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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Salt City BBQ Festival - Syracuse, NY

Last weekend, the Three Dogs BBQ Roadshow packed up the trailer and headed to Syracuse to compete in the Salt City BBQ Festival.  We were looking forward to this competition as this was our first New York competition of the year.  Since we mostly compete in New York, it was a chance to catch up with old friends after the long winter layover.



We were also looking forward to this weekend for a few other reasons as well.

First, it was mine and Hope's fifth wedding anniversary.  I had some friends order a surprise cake on the sly to surprise Hope.  We loved the design!  To top it off, the cake even had cannoli filling.


Second, we added a new member this year for some of our competitions.  Our friend Dennis was a man without a team this year.  So, when his schedule permits, he is cooking with the team.  Dennis, you were a big help this weekend and we are looking forward to the rest of the year.

Finally, if you read this blog, you know that we lost two of our furry kids this past year.  When looking for a new rescue, we decided that we wanted a younger dog that would be trainable so that we could bring them to a competition.  Well, we found that dog in George.  He is a Lab Pointer (?) mix that is almost five months old.  He was great over the weekend.  Well behaved, polite, and a heart breaker.  A Rock Star was born this past weekend.


So, after dinner and some social time, it was time to get down to the business of cooking the standard KCBS meats consisting of chicken, pork ribs, pork butt, and brisket.  Here were our boxes.





We were happy with everything we cooked.  The chicken flavor was outstanding if not a little ratty looking.  We moved to thighs this year and my trimming is a bit rusty.  I promise they will look better as the season moves on.  The ribs were confusing.  Once comment card said it was the best rib they had ever had.  But, another said they were undercooked with a strange flavor.  We were not happy with the pork.  These butts took forever to cook for some reason and did not have the proper amount of time to rest.  We had to hunt for acceptable pieces to place in our boxes.  Finally, the brisket.  this was our best category of the weekend from a scoring standpoint.  I also think that is the best looking brisket box we have ever built.

Overall, we finished 18th out of 32 teams.  Not our best showing, but not our worst either.  Time to tweak some things and get ready for this week at the Roc City Rib Fest in Rochester, NY.

We would be remiss if we did not thank the owner of the building where our trailer was parked.  Let's just say that while Salt City is a good competition, they are logistically challenged at times.  We were 400 feet from the nearest water with 100 feet of hose.  The gracious building owner allowed us to run a hose through his building so that we could find a water source that worked so we could fill out tanks.  Thank you very much!


Finally, congrats to The Basic BBQ Team, our Grand Champion and to Good Smoke, our Reserve Grand Champion.  Also, a shout out to Holy Smokes for the strong showing!

We will see everyone this weekend at Roc City.  Stop by and say hi to George.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Saturday, April 30, 2016

One Last Comfort Food Post for a Dreary Day

I need to mow the lawn.  Badly.  But, I need a part and it is on order.  So, on this overcast day during a spring that seems to be swinging between opening and closing the windows along with turning the furnace on then off, I can't think of a better time to clear out some pics of a little comfort food to get me through the impending rain.

Deep Dish Pizza.  I had been meaning to try this dish for quite some time and as luck would have it, the leftovers in the refrigerator aligned themselves perfectly for a pizza pie.  We had some leftover meatballs, spaghetti, sauce, and cheese.  Time to make a deep dish pie for the first time.  Perfect comfort food for a cold winters night.

First, Hope ran a batch of pizza dough through the bread machine.

Pizza Dough

3 1/4 cups AP flour
1 tbsp yeast
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cups warm water

Put it all in a bread machine, yeast on the bottom,  and let it sit through one raise cycle.  Then pull out of the bread maker and cover with a clean towel for 15 minutes.

When handling the dough, spray your hands with cooking spray.  You'll thank me later...

Then, I pulled out my trusty Griswold #10 and Hope spread about half of dough in the skillet.  Let the layering begin!

Dough...


Cheese...


Then leftover spaghetti, sauce, some onion, black olives, sweet pepper, diced meatballs, and pepperoni...


Finally, a thick layer of cheese...


I threw the skillet into an oven preheated to 450 F and baked until the crust was brown and the cheese was nice and bubbly.  Total bake time was about 20 minutes.


The moment of truth.  Would it stick?


Properly seasoned cast iron?  I got this.  No problem.  This pie slid out of the cast iron.  We sliced it up and dug into this feast.


Why had I not tried this earlier?  I don't know, but we will be trying this again in the future.  I think I see a use for some leftover competition pulled pork.  More on that later.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Paella on the Grill

Part of the festivities last weekend at The Ironman BBQ competition was a friendly, informal Paella cooking throw down between a few of the teams.  No cash or trophies were on the line.  Just bragging rights.  Sometimes, bragging rights are enough.  The only problem, I have made Paella exactly twice before in my life.  Once on the stove and once a month or so ago on the grill to prove to myself that it could be done.  My grill experiment was a partial success.  Based upon those results, I dove into the competition headfirst.  What else is there to do the night before a BBQ competition, right?

I decided on a seafood Paella.  Scallop to be precise.  Here is the ingredient list:

Three Dogs BBQ Grilled Scallop Paella

1 lb. Frozen Dried Bay Scallops
1 16 oz. can of Clam Stock
1 16 oz. can of Chicken Stock
1 lb of bulk Chorizo sausage
2 cups of Arborio or other short grain rice
1/4 cup of minced Sun Dried Tomatoes packed in oil
1/2 Tablespoon of oil from the Sundried Tomatoes for sautéing
1 Small to Medium Sweet Onion, roughly diced
4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
2 Pinches of Saffron Threads
2 Tablespoons of quality Spanish paprika.  I used the smoked variety
2 Teaspoons of Garlic Powder
2 Teaspoons of Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon ground black pepper
1 Teaspoon of Sea Salt
1/4 Teaspoon of Cumin
A couple dashes of Thyme and Oregano
One Jalapeño and about 1/2 cup of thawed Peas for garnish
Garlic Parmesean Aioli for garnish

To start, I lit one chimney full of charcoal and placed about 1/2 a chimneys worth of charcoal off to one side of my Weber kettle.  Once the coals were ready, I spread them off to one side, put the grill rack in place, and heated up my nine quart cast iron dutch oven with 1/2 tbsp of the tomato oil.  Once the oil was hot, I added my chorizo.  I stirred the sausage until it was starting to turn brown and crumbly. At this point, I added the minced garlic, onion, and sun dried tomato and sautéed this mixture, stirring fairly constantly, until the onions were getting translucent.


Next, I added the rice and allowed the mixture to cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Finally,  I added the dry spice mixture and sautéed this mixture for five more minutes.


Next, I added the clam and chicken stock along with my scallops, stirred the mixture thoroughly, placed the cover on the Dutch Oven and the grill, and walked away for 30 minutes.  While waiting on the rice to absorb the liquid, I thinly sliced my jalapeño and prepared my aioli.

Garlic Parmesean Aioli

1/4 cup of mayonnaise
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp of grated parmesan cheese
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp of ground black pepper
Enough olive oil to make the mixture mobile

After 30 minutes of simmer time on the grill, the rice mixture was almost done.  At this point I added my sliced jalapeño and peas and replaced the cover on the Dutch Oven for 10 more minutes.  Then, I removed the Dutch Oven from the grill and let sit for 10 more minutes.  Then, I drizzled my aioli over the top of the Paella.  Wallah, done!


The other two entries for the evening were a Chicken Wing Chorizo Paella prepared by Terry West with 270 Smokers:


And a Shrimp and Rabbit Paella from the guys at Plum Crazy BBQ:


The judges, assembled from the ranks of our hosts at Mason Dixon BBQ Supply, sampled and deliberated for an eternity.  At least 15 minutes...


The results were:

1. 270 Smokers
2. Three Dogs BBQ
3. Plum Crazy BBQ

It was going to be hard to beat the Paella King, Terry West.  As the judging was open, comments were offered to the three chefs.  Our comment was that Three Dogs would have won had we had some crust, or Socarrat, on the bottom of the pan.  Close, but no cigar.  Terry may have won this time, but we will meet again.  Well done.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Ironman - Greencastle, PA

"This is Intense!"  That is a direct quote from a former elite athlete.  A four year starter on a three time NCAA Champion Soccer team.  If I ever had a doubt that competition BBQ was a sport, they were erased in that one comment.  So, with a bang, the 2016 Three Dogs BBQ competition season started at the Go Naked Ironman BBQ competition in Greencastle, PA.

Why the name?  I am glad you asked.  The rules are a bit different for this competition.  You have two choices.  You can pay a ridiculous amount of cash to enter and be able to use all of your gizmos: electronically controlled forced draft devices, electric knives, Bluetooth temperature probes, and all the meat you want to cook.  Or, you can pay the standard fee to "Go Naked": no forced drafts, no electric temperature monitors or knives, and be restricted to seven pieces of chicken, one rack of ribs, one pork butt, and one brisket.  Get caught with any of the above and you either cough up the extra cash or get disqualified.  You were only allowed to have an electric Thermapen to temp your meats for food safety purposes.  A true test of a Pitmasters skill.  There was good and bad involved for sure.  Mess up that one rack of ribs or see a little skin blow out on your chicken and you had nothing to fall back on to put in your box.  On the good side, there was no fretting what went in the box.  What you cooked was turned in regardless of what you thought.  How did we do?  Well, ok I suppose for our first time in this format.

First up was our chicken:


A fine looking box with nice flavor, but dinged a bit from two judges on tenderness.  I figure those were the judges that received the larger thighs.  This box was good for 29th out of 54 teams.  The take away here is to trim the chicken just a little more uniformly so they are all the same tenderness.  

Next were the ribs:


Again, nice appearance and taste scores but a little low on the tenderness scores.  This rack of ribs could have used about another 15 minutes on the smoker as they were just a little tight.  This box was good for 26th overall.

Next up was our pork box:


Great appearance and taste scores, other than one judge who commented that the sauce was too sweet.  The same judge commented that the meat was a little chewy.  Both comments were fair.  Our pork placed 33rd.

Finally, our brisket:


Again, good appearance scores.  But, taste and tenderness is where scores are weighted the most. The flat was spot on tender.  The burnt ends, a bit chewy.  We also received a comment that there was an unknown, unpleasant flavor.  This box was good for 35th overall.  Add up all of the scores and our finish was 30th out of 54 teams.

For our first competition of the year, I was somewhat happy.  This contest was a bit of an experiment as we tried some new recipes.  With the judges comments we can adjust accordingly for our next competition.  I know where I went wrong with the burnt ends, so that can be corrected.  I think we are ready for our next time out in May.

I would be remiss if I did not thank Tim from Spittin Feathers BBQ.  He substituted for Hope this past weekend and I could not have asked for better help.  If you have a BBQ team and you have not cooked with a member of another team, you are missing out.  I learned so much from Tim this past weekend.  Sometimes it is good to get another perspective.  Tim was a big help and for that, I am in his debt.


I would also like to thank Jeremie and Matt (the soccer champion) for coming down to Greencastle and cooking our Peoples Choice wings.  You might not have placed but they tasted pretty good!


Finally, we need to thank Eric Forrester with Mason Dixon BBQ Services for the great hospitality and running a great competition.

Congratulations to 3 Eyz BBQ, our Grand Champion and to Brown Liquor BBQ, our Reserve Grand Champion.  Also, congrats to all who heard their name called.

Next up for us is the beginning of our New York swing at the Salt City BBQ Festival in Syracuse, NY
If you are in the area, stop on by and say hi.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill