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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Keystone Classic State BBQ Championship - Harrisburg, PA

This past week, the Three Dogs road show packed up for the last time in 2015 to attend the Keystone Classic State BBQ Championship in Harrisburg, PA.  This is one of our favorite contests for many reasons, number one being that the contest also takes place during the International Livestock Show.

We have been lucky this year with weather over contest weekends.  Well, it was time to pay the piper this past weekend.  Rain.  Lots.  All weekend.  Cold too.  I forgot how many times I said I was freezing.  It was so bad at times, duck hunting gear was in order to stay warm and dry.

The weather was perfect for a judge to join us for the weekend.  A friend of ours and her husband, Tammie and Rich, cooked with us for the weekend.  Tammie cooked with us to receive her master judge certification with KCBS and Rich stepped up and cooked the ancillary categories that consisted of turkey and chicken legs.  Tammie was a huge help with all aspects of the cook.  Her insights into meat placement and flavor profiles while preparing boxes were most helpful.  If you are a team and have a chance to have a judge cook with you, I recommend doing so at least once.

Rich started off with the turkey legs.  He turned in these beautiful looking legs that scored a second place overall.  Good work for a judge!

Rich's call turned out to be the highlight of the weekend as we were shut out in the standard KCBS categories.

The turn ins above netted us a 31st in chicken, a 13th in ribs, a 46th in pork, and a 50th in brisket for a total of 41st overall out of 57 teams.  Not a good weekend for sure.  Overall, I thought it was one of our better cooks for the year.  But, we hit two tables of death which did not help with scoring.  What can you do?  That just means we have some practicing to do over the winter to get back to our early 2015 form.  Congratulations go out to Checkered Flag 500 BBQ, our Grand Champion and to Meat Wagon BBQ, our Reserve Grand Champion.

Thanks to all that have supported us this year.  We hope to see everyone back again next year when we hit the road in 2016.

Thanks for stopping by,


Friday, September 25, 2015

Ellie Mae

No recipes, no BBQ competitions, no reviews this week.  It has been tough around the Three Dogs household this week.  Unfortunately, we had to send one of our kids, Ellie Mae, across the Rainbow Bridge last week.  So, sit for a spell, and let me tell you the story of Ellie Mae...

We rescued Ellie Mae the week after we rescued Jethro at a PetSmart adoption event.  We stopped by on a Saturday for something Jethro or our lizard Henry needed.  There was Ellie Mae.  Hope fell in love instantly and wanted to take her home.  Hope wanted a female dog that she could bond with since Jethro was a male and female dogs hang with female humans.  Right?  Yeah, right...  She had a limp, possibly from a torn ACL on her right hind leg (it turned out to be a sprain).  We were told that she was picked up in New Castle, PA, rummaging through trash dumpsters, looking for something to eat.  Ellie Mae was given to the local Humane Society and eventually brought to the adoption event.  We had plans, and to be completely honest, I was unsure about adopting a dog that may need surgery.  Yeah, I know, shame on me.  I told Hope, if she was there on Sunday, we could bring her home.  

Needless to say, on Sunday, Ellie Mae was there.  So, the adoption process began and 30 minutes later, for the first time in my life, I had two dogs to take care of at home.  Ellie Mae was Krista when we picked her up, but the lady at PetSmart remembered that we had picked up Jethro the week before and said, "Jethro needs an Ellie Mae."  Truer words have never been spoken.  She was Ellie Mae from the moment we left.  

Right at the start, Hope learned that Ellie Mae would not be her buddy.  Sure, Ellie Mae loved Hope, but it became pretty evident within a day or so that she would be Daddies little girl  Coming home from work was a process.  I came home and got mobbed.  I would change, lay down in bed, and Ellie Mae would jump up and lick my face and cuddle for five minutes or so.  When I went away for business trips, this process was repeated but lasted for at least 30 minutes.  She loved her Dad and I loved her.  She was always there for me.  

Some things I will always remember about Ellie Mae:

I think she was part Amish.  She never liked to have her picture taken.  I was like I was capturing her soul...

She could clean a grill grate better than any brush...

She was an ice hound.  If I needed to know where Ellie Mae was, all I needed to do was go hit the ice machine lever on the refrigerator.  Like a bullet, she was there.  

Ellie Mae also never got the concept of "Three Hots and a Cot"  Her time on the streets must have been tough because she always wondered where the next meal was coming from, even though she never missed a meal or a treat in 11 years.  

But, as all pet owners know, our kids get old and that time creeps up on us.  Sometimes faster than we want.  

Ellie Mae may have gotten gray and slow, but she was always there for me up until the end.  The end came fast and the toughest part of the whole thing was that I was on the road for work when the end came.  I will never forgive myself for that.  Ever...

So, we carry on.  Jed and Jethro are slowly getting over the change.  Me and Hope, not so fast.  But, we carry on and remember.  I do miss my Ellie Mae.  My Pretty Girl is gone...

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Burnt Onion and Bacon Jam

One day a few months ago, I was scrolling through the Book of Faces when someone called Burger Mary popped up via a friends feed.  Naturally, with anything meat, I had to check the site out.  I was not disappointed.  I was treated to a meaty wonderland of resources.  Recipes, reviews, and informational articles.  Jess has immigrated to the US from Australia, settling in Austin, Texas.  I want her job.  But, since I can't have her job, I settle for reading her blog and trying some of the recipes and techniques.  The first recipe I tried was a sure fire winner.  Burnt Onion Bacon Jam.

Who wouldn't like this recipe?  Burnt and roasted sweet onions and over one pound of bacon, cooked into little bits of crispy goodness.  Lets go through the process.

You can find the recipe here: Burnt Onion Bacon Jam

The process was simple.

Start a nice hot fire in your charcoal grill.  Spread out the coals, then when they are nice and hot, place your sweet onions, skin and all, on top of the coals and cook for about five minutes.  I turned every 30 seconds or so to make sure I evenly cooked the onions.  One burnt nicely, the other not so much.  But you get the idea.

Once the onions had cooled down, I removed the outer skin, diced, and set aside.

Next, I took a pound and a half of bacon, diced, then slowly cooked in my cast iron pan until the fat had rendered and the bacon was crisp.  I removed the bacon from the pan and placed in a bowl with paper towel to soak up the grease.  Then, I removed the rendered bacon fat from my skillet, reserving just enough to cook my onions.

I turned on my burner to medium with the reserved bacon fat.  Then, when the fat was up to temperature, I added the onion and spices and cooked for five minutes, stirring every minute or so.

Next, I added my wet ingredients (I kept the optional bourbon out), increased the heat to high, and cooked for five more minutes.  Your mix will be boiling at this point.  Finally, I added the cooked bacon to the mix and let simmer 10-15 minutes, or until you reach the consistency you are looking for.  I cooked for 15 minutes and probably removed too much liquid.  Next time, I will only reduce for about 10 minutes.

Next, I placed the finished mixture into pint Mason Jars for storage in the refrigerator.

For testing, I took a small sample into work for my colleagues to try.  One is a certified connoisseur of bacon.  The other eats to live, not the other way around.  His idea of fine dining is salad without dressing and bananas that should have been used for baking and not direct eating.  Not surprisingly, the bacon lover was in heaven.  He thought this may have been the best use of bacon that he had seen in quite some time.  What about the Eat to Live guy?  No comment.  He was too busy spooning this mixture into his mouth, moaning and groaning with pleasure throughout.

The three of us discussed uses for this jam.  Omelette filling, burger topping, and a toast spread were the obvious choices.  But, the three of us all agreed, you could use this in a dessert.  I know, onions and dessert?  Well, this jam is a very nice mix of sweet and savory with just a hit of acid from the vinegar.  Bacon Lover wanted to try it on vanilla ice cream.  Eat to Live guy wanted to put it on cheesecake.  Both would work in my opinion.  I am going to experiment with apples or strawberries in the future.  I still can't wrap my arms around onions in a dessert.  The bottom line is, you need to try this recipe, especially if you love bacon.  You won't be disappointed.

Thanks for stopping by,


Monday, September 7, 2015

Finger Lakes Fire and Smoke BBQ Festival - Geneva, NY

This Labor Day weekend, the Three Dogs Road Show packed up and headed to Geneva, NY on the shores of beautiful Seneca Lake to take part in the first annual Finger Lakes Fire and Smoke BBQ Festival.  This competition was run by one of our own, Rikk Foringer from Shortsville Smokers.  Rikk runs the event as a charity to raise money and provide money for scholarships to those in the local community who need a little help to attend school.  A great cause for a great event.

As I mentioned, the venue was spectacular.  Geneva Lakefront Park was the perfect venue to have a BBQ throw down.  Great views and a cool breeze off the lake helped keep teams cool on a weekend with temperatures in the upper 80's.

Let's hope that the weekend did not turn into a "trap" and some good BBQ entries were had by all.  So, lets fire up the pits and review the weekend.

One of the worst chicken entries we have ever put in in a box.  We experienced some split skin issues this weekend.  We could not find six pieces for the box with unsplit skin.  Therefore, we had to put some pieces in ugly side up.

Chicken and ribs came in 20th out of 25 teams.  Pork netted us our only call of the day, 8th out of 25. We are trying some new methods to come up with a more consistent brisket recipe and were happy with the results, 15 out of 25 teams.  Not the weekend we were hoping for, but the results were deserved and any weekend with a walk is a good weekend.  Congratulations go out to Good Smoke BBQ, our Grand Champion and to Galloways Hellfire BBQ, our Reserve Grand Champion.

It is hard to believe, but the end of summer is almost here.  Only one more competition to go.  We will see you next month at the Keystone Classic State BBQ Championship.

Thanks for stopping by,