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Sunday, January 20, 2019

My New Competition Addiction - SCA

In 2018, the Three Dogs team entered the world of Steak Cookoff Association (SCA) competitions.  The SCA is a sanctioning body for steak cook offs and ancillary categories such as ribs, wings, dessert, Bloody Mary's, and much, much more.  SCA is based in the Fr. Worth, TX area and sanctions contests in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan.  The SCA is a great way to enter the competitive cooking world with minimal investment.  Let's take a minute and delve into the pros and cons of competitive steak cook offs.


Lower entry fees when compared to KCBS.  Most entry fees for SCA run $125-$175 per contest.  Most contests pay $1000 to the winner and usually pay out to the top five teams.  Ancillary contests run about $25 to enter.

The contest provides the steaks.  This is a bonus on many fronts.  One, you do not have to go out and buy the best cut of meat to compete.  The organizer provides you with two steaks, boneless ribeye, choice grade or better.  Two, steaks are chosen via a randomly pulled draft.  If you pull number one, you go first.  Then your second steak is chosen in reverse order.  A nice level playing field for all.  No need to go spend $100+ on prime or waygu steaks, adding cost.

Competitions are only one day.  You show up in time for the cooks meeting and steak draft, 8 am in most cases.  Generally turn ins are at noon and they have you headed home by 4-5 pm.

A lot less equipment.  All you need is a grill, your tools and knives, a cutting board, seasonings, a thermometer, a canopy for shade, and a cooler with lunch and drinks.  20 minute set up, 20 minute break down.  What's not to like?

Low stress atmosphere.  Mingling between reps, judges, and teams is encouraged.  Everyone talks and has a grand old time.  Then, about 30 minutes before turn ins, the judges disappear and you get down to cooking.  As for turn ins, the window is 30 minutes.  Easy peasy.

No garnish.  No need to spend cash on kale, parsley, or lettuce.  The steak goes into a 9x9 box with a foil disk on the bottom for cutting and to make sure the box doesn't melt.

Overall cost.  We can do 10 SCA competitions for the total cost of two KCBS competitions.  Win, win, win.


No comment cards.  Doneness for steaks is graded on the following chart:

Medium is what you are striving for.  You can't cut your steak before turning in to be judged.  If your score is anything other than a 10, you do not know if you were over or under cooked.  Knowing would be helpful.  Also, some general comments would be nice, but not needed.

Not many comps in the Northeast.  But, that is changing.  It is looking like in 2019, this will drop off of the con list.

As you can see, the Pros way outweigh the Cons.

In 2018, Three Dogs entered three SCA competitions.  In our first two outings, we finished in the bottom 10%.

Our first steak was a bit under trimmed and my guess is that it was a bit overdone due to a raging hot grill.

In our second competition, our steak was trimmed a bit aggressively and perhaps a little underdone.  

Some research was needed.  I picked a few brains, hit the Internet for articles and videos, and held a few practice cooks at home.  In September, all of the research and practice payed off...

Three Dogs won the first SCA event in the Pittsburgh area at the Grill Your Ace Off held by Williams Ace Hardware in West Newton, PA.  With this win, we get to attend the World Steak Championships in Fort Worth, TX in October and perhaps the 2019 World Food Championships to cook in the steak category.  

Over the past year, Three Dogs has found the SCA to be a nice, relaxing, low cost way to participate in the world of competitive cooking.  We will never fully quit cooking KCBS competitions.  But, considering the ever escalating cost to compete in the world of competitive BBQ, I think that over the next few years, we will be participating in fewer BBQ contests and transitioning into more SCA cook offs.  

So, if you happen to see a SCA competition in your neck of the woods and you think you cook a mean steak, you just might want to throw your grill in the back of the truck, grab your seasonings, and see how your steak stacks up against the best.  

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Back to our Regularly Scheduled Programming...

Hello everyone!  We are back.  I know it has been quite some time since we have posted.  But, as stated before, life got in the way, we ran out of ideas, etc...  But, people have asked where the blog went.  It seems that people actually did read it from time to time.  So, after the time off, I figured that now is as good a time as any to fire the keyboard back up.

2018 was a good year for Three Dogs BBQ.  With 8 contests, we finished ranked 14th in the country in chicken, 116 in ribs, 41st in pork, and we won't talk about brisket.  Overall, we were 114th in the country for KCBS.  This is out of 2335 teams that competed in 10 contests or less.  Not too shabby for a team just winging it over the summer.  In addition we finished 4th in chicken and 5th in pork in the Mid-Atlantic Barbecue Association Team or the Year standings for Tier II (Best 5 scores out of 8 contests or less).

In addition, Three Dogs started competing in Steak Cookoff Association sanctioned contests.  After a dreadful start, we did manage to win our final SCA contest in September at Williams Ace Hardware in West Newton, PA.  That has earned us a trip to the SCA World Championships in Ft. Worth, TX in October 2019.  We are definitely looking forward to that road trip!

So, as we re-launch the blog, we are open to ideas for content.  We will be going back to recipes, restaurant reviews, etc...  But, if you have any ideas, we are more than open to your suggestions.

Happy New Year!


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Grilled Chicken Wing Dip

Super Bowl Sunday was upon us and I was feeling a little indifferent to the whole event.  Our Steelers "spit the bit" as they are prone to do from time to time and we really didn't have a horse in the race.  I wasn't rooting for the Eagles.  More like, I was rooting against Darth Belichick and the evil empire known as the Patriots.  I needed something to get me into the game.  So, instead of the usual spread, I focused on preparing some dips for the evening.  I had a hankering for some buffalo chicken dip, but I was looking for something other than the usual canned chicken, cream cheese, raw Texas Pete all mixed up kinda thing.  So, as I am prone to do, I did a little experimenting.  Off to the kitchen we go.


Chicken Wings.  Ultimately, I used 6.
Adobo Seasoning with Pepper

For the Wing Sauce:

2/3 cup Texas Pete
1/3 cup butter
3 cloves of garlic minced

For the Base:

1, 8 oz pack of cream cheese, softened
8 oz of sour cream
2 tbsp of ranch dressing

The Rest:

2 ribs of celery, finely diced
1/4 cup of carrot sticks, roughly diced
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese plus more for topping
Bleu Cheese crumbles for topping

The night before, I seasoned both sides of my wings with the Adobo seasoning, layered them in a pan, and placed them in the fridge to dry brine.

 Dry brining removes the moisture from the skin, promoting crispiness when cooked.  More on that in my next post.

The next day, I fired up my grill to cook the wings.  While the charcoal was getting ready, I prepared my sauce, the dip base, and the veggies.

For the sauce, I melted the 1/3 cup of butter and lightly sautéed my garlic.  Then I added the Texas Pete and let simmer for about 10 minutes to slightly reduce the sauce.  When reduced, I removed the sauce from the heat and set aside for use later.

Next, I took the softened cream cheese and incorporated the sour cream, ranch dressing, and the wing sauce using my hand held mixer until the mixture was smooth.

When the grill was ready, I placed the charcoal off to one side for indirect grilling.  I placed the chicken on the grill and covered with the lid, vents wide open.  Every five minutes I came out and rearranged the wings so those that were close to the fire did not burn.  I continued this process for about 40 minutes until the skin was crispy and the meat was cooked.

 After removing the wings from the grill, I brought them inside and let them cool down for 15 minutes.  Then, I pulled meat from the bones and roughly minced until I had two cups of meat.  This amounted to six whole wings, deboned.  I also included some of the skin as it was nice and crispy.

Next, I took the meat, diced veggies and 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella and folded into the cream cheese mixture.

Then, after spreading into a 8 inch pie pan, I topped with mozzarella cheese and bleu cheese crumbles.  

Finally, I baked in a 350 F oven for 30-40 minutes when the mixture was melted and the cheese on top was brown and bubbly.  

Then, I served hot with tortilla chips and crackers for dipping.  The dip was everything I was looking for.  The grilled wing flavor came through very well.  All of the flavors mixed well.  The celery and carrot were tender crisp and not over cooked.  The next time around, I am going to add a little more wing sauce and perhaps a little more ranch dressing.  I will be making this dip again.

Thanks for stopping by...

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Checking out this Sous Vide Thing...

Hello everyone.  We are back.  New year, new computer that works in real time.  Time to get caught up.  While we were away, we were cooking and experimenting.  One technique that we tried was Sous Vide on a nice, thick bone in ribeye that I picked up at Costco over the holiday season.  

I had been wanting to try this cooking technique, but was hesitant to pull the trigger on a piece of equipment cost over $100 dollars without knowing how the process worked or if it was worth the money.  Then, I remembered that The Oldest had cooked a Sous Vide venison back strap a few years ago using the hillbilly Sous Vide method.  Hillbilly Sous Vide you say?  Yep, one Igloo cooler and a tea kettle of hot water.

First, I lightly coated my steak with some olive oil and lightly seasoned with kosher salt, cracked pepper, and granulated garlic.  The steak was then vacuum packed and placed in the cooler below. 

Next, I filled up a tea kettle with water and heated it to a temperature of 150 F.  To properly submerge my steak, it took about two tea kettles of water.  Once the steak was swimming in its whirlpool, I closed the lid and walked away.  Every 30 minutes or so I added more hot water to keep the temperature around 150 F.  I allowed the steak to "cook" in the water bath for about 3 hours.  Here is what the steak looked like after its spa treatment.

I had to admit, I was a little worried.  The meat looked like boiled steak.  But, I had my trusty grill heated up with a roaring fire.  

I placed the steak over the coals and cooked for four minutes a side.  Then I brought the steak inside, allowed the meat to rest for 5 minutes, then I cut it in half.

I am sold.  This steak two and a half inch monster was perfectly cooked.  Rare in the middle with the perfect crust on the outside.  I think it is time to spring for a Sous Vide gadget and start experimenting more.   

Thanks for stopping by,