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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Roc City Ribfest 2012

This past weekend, we competed in our first competition of 2012, the Roc City Ribfest in Rochester, NY.  We had a great time even though we did not do as well as we had hoped we would.  In Saturday's Rib Cook off, we finished 54 out of 109 teams.  In the Sunday KCBS competition, we finished 74 out of 80 teams.  We did well in pulled pork, brisket, and chicken.  Our ribs did not turn out very well.  I think I know what we did wrong and will improve for our next competition.

As you can see from the pictures, we had a beautiful site right on Lake Ontario that made for cool breezes and a great sunrise...

Most importantly, we had fun and that is what counts the most.  There were a lot of big teams with lots of competition seasoning and sponsorship.  Hopefully over time, we can get good enough to give them a run for the money.  

Hope you enjoy the pics.  Full results on the competition schedule page.

Thanks for stopping by...


Friday, May 25, 2012

The Great Ginger Garlic Paste Experiment

A friend of mine brought a bottle of this stuff in for me to try in recipes:  Ginger Garlic Paste...

There is so much garlic in this stuff, you can smell it through the seal.  Here is what is looks like inside...

It basically looks like prepared horseradish.  Anyway, I decided to make a marinade for chicken.

Ginger Garlic Paste Marinade:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp honey
1 tsp Sriracha sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
S&P to taste

Place the chicken in a plastic bag with the marinade and let sit for about an hour and a half...

Tossed on the grill.  Indirect heat for about 30 minutes then about 5 minutes of direct heat to crisp up the outside...

Good stuff.  Moist, tender, with a nice ginger garlic taste.  The sriracha gives a nice kick as well.

You'll be seeing this paste in other recipes in the future.

Thanks for stopping by,


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Caramelized Onion, Cheddar, Bacon and BBQ Sliders

We have to do a burger competition for the Boston Hills event in June.  This is not our final recipe, but it is a start.  I have a few others to try, but this is very good for a start.

1 Medium Sweet Onion, sliced.
Burgers, cut down to the bun size.
Egg Knot rolls.

Grilled the bacon, then crumbled:

Put a thin layer of olive oil in a cast iron pan, then caramelized the onions:

Added enough Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce to coat the onions:

Put the burgers on the grill.  Flipped after 4 minutes.  Topped with cheese and bacon, then covered for 4 minutes to melt the cheese:

Put the burger on the bun, topped with onion mixture, then put the lids on the top:

Even made a practice box to see if 6 will fit.  I think they will:

The sliders were nice and juicy with a nice bacon, cheddar, BBQ taste.  The caramelized onions added a nice sweet touch.

What would I do different?  I would fry the bacon the the skillet and use the fat to caramelize the onions.

Thanks for stopping by...


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Metropol Restaurant and Bar, Carolina, San Juan, PR

From time to time, my travels for work take me to Puerto Rico.  The first time I visited, and every time after, I always make it a point to go to Metropol Restaurant and Bar for lunch or dinner...

It is a local chain that serves home style Cuban favorites.  When you first sit down, they start you out with a basket of fresh pressed Cuban bread with butter and enough garlic to knock a buzzard off of a manure wagon.  Just the way I like it...

For starters, I had the Black Bean Soup.  Their version has bell and jalapeno peppers for some nice heat.  They also use smoked ham hocks in their broth that give a nice full flavor.  The beans are velvety and cooked to perfection.

My 2 favorite dishes there are either the 1/2 Cuban Smoked Chicken or the Fiesta Cubana.  I had the Fiesta Cubana platter this time...

This is a perfect way to try all of the Cuban favorites.  Clockwise from the top:

Cassava Root: (AKA Yucca Root).  Perfectly steamed with light spice.  It tastes like a solid form of grits.

Pot Roast:  Good stuff.  Slow cooked in traditional Cuban Spices.  Fork tender and melt in your mouth.

Sauteed Cuban Veggies

Diced and Pan Fried Pork with Onions:  Crispy pork fat with Caribbean spices?  What's not to like?


Shredded Beef in a Spicy Tomato Based Sauce:  Good stuff.  The Cuban version of BBQ beef.

Congri:  (Black Beans and Rice).  Basically, this is their Black Bean Soup poured over perfectly steamed rice.  Tastes good and helps cut the fat in the meat.

As a nice accompaniment to your meal, they serve Habenaro Pepper Vinegar.  The pepper mellows out the vinegar and adds a big kick.  Also, the garlic in the vinegar adds a nice taste as well.  The perfect condiment.  I am going to try and make some for pulled pork.

Everyone is friendly, like everyone on the island.  Everyone at the one in Carolina speaks excellent English.  From my experience at the Barcenolenta location, some rudimentary Spanish would help, but is not necessary as the menu is in English as well.

If you make it to Puerto Rico, you will do good by yourself to make it here for a meal.  With a Mojito or cold beer, this should be on your bucket list.  Overall, 3.5 out of 4 stars.

Thanks for stopping by...


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Oink, Cluck, and Moo... Last Full Practice on Ole Blue...

Did a full practice on ole Blue yesterday. I would say everything turned out real good...



Brisket and Butt...



I am staying with the baby backs. My butcher gets some beautiful ones that are good and meaty...


Going with legs and pulled chicken. The pulled chicken is a big hit for sure...


I was never a Dodge fan, but my friends new Challenger is Bad... I think the bra ruins the look. Any other opinions?





Friday, May 11, 2012

Competition Style Chicken

After seasoning Ole Blue, I threw some yardbird on the racks for some chicken practice...

We use thighs for competition.  They are nice and juicy and full of flavor.  The only problem is, they take a ton of work.

So you get bite through skin, you need to remove the skin and scrape the fat off of the back side...

I use a single blade, disposable razor.  Just hold one end of the skin and pull back...

I used to use a butter knife, but it tends to rip the skin if you are not careful.  The razor is perfect.  It is a tough job that in my opinion, is the worst in the competition BBQ world.  You would not believe the amount of fat that comes off of 10 chicken thighs.  Nasty!

Anyway, after scraping the fat, I trim the thigh to ensure the skin will wrap around the meat.

I am also trying some legs to see if I can get nice bite through skin on them with less work.

So, I tossed the chicken and a fryer in a batch of Poultry Brine and let them go for a 6 hour swim.

I seasoned the thighs and legs with Butchers Honey BBQ rub, then wrapped the skin back around the thigh meat.  I also did a beer can chicken as we would like to try and add some pulled chicken in our boxes this year.

The thighs and legs go on the top rack at 250 and the beer can chicken went on the bottom rack.  I used a 50/50 mix of hickory and peach for this cook.

30 minutes on the rack, dunk in sauce, 30 minutes in a pan, then 30 more minutes on a rack with a sauce glaze...

Beer can chicken is looking nice and brown...

Finished product...

Nice color, good taste, and bite through skin on both the thighs and legs.  A very successful practice.

As for the pulled chicken, we mixed some dark meat in with the breast, then lightly sauced and tossed to mix it all up...

Nice taste and very moist.  We might just put this in a box this year.  We are not 100% there, but we are very close...

Thanks for stopping by...


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Stumps Junior

Well, our final piece was delivered the other day.  Our Stumps Junior.  Appropriately named, "Ole Blue"... ;)

The best part...

A nice sized ash pan that will fit 12 inch splits of smoking wood...

A chute that held a 15 lb bag of Stubbs Charcoal with room to spare...

3 racks, 21 x 21, perfectly spaced...

The racks will fit 2 half pans with no problem...

Capacity wise, the Junior will hold:

3 full packer briskets or 6 flats, maybe more.

9 butts comfortably, 12 if you squeeze a bit.

12 full racks of spares.  Not sure about baby back capacity.

The cooker has a baffle system that circulates the air evenly throughout the smoker.  A grease funnel system that drains into a drip pan on the bottom.

With a rack out, more than enough room for a beer can chicken with the top rack in use...

Overall, the Junior is a cooking machine.  Easy to use like all Stumps products.  A quantum leap over the Baby.  If you are in the market for a Stumps, this is a perfect intermediate sized smoker.  It gives you that room you sometimes wished you had with your Baby, but not too much.  Perfect for a small caterer.

Thanks for stopping by...


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chops, Asparagus, and Grilled Pineapple

It has been a busy cooking weekend, so lets start with Friday night...

I was in the mood for some nice pork steaks, but, my butcher didn't have any.  So, I went with the next best thing:  Grilling chops.  He cuts a great, thick chop that is perfect for grilling.

First, I used Stumps Pork marinade for the chops...

It adds a nice citrus flavor with some heat.

Then I took some asparagus and coated with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Then, I coated fresh pineapple with olive oil, about 1/4 tsp granulated garlic, salt and pepper...

Everything marinaded for about an hour while I got the grill going.

I threw the chops on the grill, then flipped after 5 minutes.  At that point, the asparagus and pineapple were placed on the grill...

The pineapple got about 3 minutes a side, the asparagus was grilled until it started to brown, and the chops had a total of 10 minutes, 5 minutes a side...

The chops were just past medium, the asparagus was tender crisp, and the pineapple was great.  Sweet, savory, slightly salty...  I will be doing the pineapple again...