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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Oinktoberfest 2013, KCBS Competition

Last weekend, we wrapped up the New York portion of our competition schedule by competing in Oinktoberfest in Clarence, NY.  As always, this was a great event and good fun was had by all.  Unfortunately, Saturday was a challenge.  We received three inches of rain, starting at 5:30 am and ending, ironically enough, right after the award ceremony at 5:30 pm.  After that, the place turned into a bit of a quagmire.  But there is nothing you can do about that.  I felt sorry for some of the teams that had their team sites right up against a barn.  The downspouts drained into their sites adding another layer of discomfort to an already miserable weather day.  Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Illicit BBQ dealings concerning top secret brisket rub...

Cooks meeting.  It is tough to cram 71 teams in a garage...

Guest of honor...

Niagara Falls, at least a smaller version.  I wanted to ride the Ferris Wheel...

Our good friends from Locked and Loaded BBQ trying to keep dry...

When you don't have a regular umbrella, a beach umbrella will do.  One of the guys from Buckner Brothers BBQ with a moment of lucid ingenuity...

Lets review our scores.

I am happy to report that the upward trend has continued and we couldn't be happier.

The chicken scored a 167.4400, good for 10 out of 71

Our ribs continue to kill our overall scores.  The ribs scored a 145.6456, good for 49 out of 71.  Our taste and tenderness are off.  I suppose we have to do more time in the foil and take some of the spice out of the rub.  I have some ideas for our last competition this year.

Our pork scored a 161.1200, good for 25 out of 71.  Frankly, I am surprised it did that well.  It was a bit on the dry side, but we'll take it and say thank you.

Our brisket was the shock of the weekend.  It has always given us trouble.  But, we changed a few things in the injection and made sure to cook a bit longer.  When we were tasting, we knew it was the best we had ever made.  But, it doesn't matter what we think.  How did we do?  172.5828 and 5th out of 71.  We didn't even win our table!  I just hope we can keep the brisket quality this good.

Overall, we came in 17th out of 71.  That was a point total of 646.7884 again improving over our last competition in Hudson Valley.  Full contest results can be found here.

For the year, Three Dogs finished 34th in the Empire State BBQ Championship.  Hopefully we can keep improving next year.

Congrats to Smokin' Hoggz BBQ, our Grand Champion.  I'll say it again, they have been on a tear since winning the 2011 Jack.  Keep up the good work.  Congratulations are in order for Fatty MacBarbeque, our Reserve Grand Champion.  You have been on a bit of a tear since winning Boston Hills.  Keep it up!

Also, we would like to thank the contest organizer, George Booth, for putting together a great contest at a great venue.  How about we skip the rain next year?

Thanks for stopping by,


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Copeland's New Orleans Restaurant and Bar - Kenner, LA

Well, it has been a busy few weeks around here.  Two work trips sandwiched around a competition.  Time to catch up on some posts.  First, we'll start with a visit to Copeland's New Orleans Restaurant and Bar.

I usually end up in Louisiana every so often for work.  Cajun and creole food are one of my favorites.  What is not to like about butter, cream, and seafood cooked up in a Cajun style.  Copeland's has a diverse menu of Cajun and creole classics.  Seafood, fried and broiled, raw bar, crayfish, and lots of creamy pasta meals.  I started with their Crayfish Bread appetizer.

This plate is a half of a French loaf, sliced in half, and topped with a thin layer of Alfredo sauce, spinach and artichoke dip, Monterrey Jack cheese and sauteed crayfish, all baked until hot and bubbly.  The flavors are great. But, the texture reminds me a bit of frozen French Bread pizza.  Also, it is a bit light on the crayfish.  I think an improvement to the dish would be to use sliced baguette rounds to add some crispiness to the dish.  Overall, this appetizer gets a B.

My main course was Sauteed Tasso Ham and Shrimp with Cajun Parmesan cream sauce served over bow tie pasta.

This dish was outstanding.  The perfect ham to shrimp ratio.  Cajun spices made a perfect Parmesan cream sauce even better.  The pasta was a perfect al dente.  I ate every last bite.  The surprise on this plate was the drop biscuit you see at the top.  It was light and airy with a great biscuit flavor, perfect for sopping up the remains of that great cream sauce.  This dish gets an A in my book.

One great aspect of this meal was the price.  Usually, you pay top dollar for this quality in the Big Easy.  But, this dinner, with two Abita Amber drafts and tip was only $35.  You can't beat that!

Overall, Copeland's gets an A.  I will be back for sure.

Thanks for stopping by,


Monday, September 23, 2013

Easy Poultry Brine

I always use this brine when I am smoking chicken, turkey, or any thing with wings.  It really does tenderize the meat and take out all of those bad juices.  I always reference this recipe in my poultry posts.  So, I decided to make my life (and yours) easier and make a separate link.

Here is the recipe:

BOS's Chicken Brine:

1 gallon Water
¾ cup Kosher Salt
¾ cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Granulated Garlic
2 Tbsp Chili Powder
¼ cup Orange Juice
⅛ cup Worcestershire Sauce

Mix and bring to boil.  Cool and place in frig overnight.

I usually brine my legs and thighs for two hours, bone-in breasts for four hours, whole birds get an overnight swim.  

I hope this helps.  Thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Thyme

I know the thought of eating cauliflower can prime the gag reflex on even the most adventurous of eaters.  For me cauliflower is a take it or leave it proposition.  On its own, it has a bland taste.  I usually add liberal amounts of butter, salt and pepper.  Or I smother it in cheese sauce.  But, our friend Joanie introduced us to roasted cauliflower.  Roasting caramelizes the cauliflower, bringing out a nutty, rich flavor.  Here is how I made it last weekend.

After picking up a nice head of cauliflower at the local farm market, Hope broke it down into medium sized florets, washed, and dried.  I added 1/2 of a thinly sliced sweet onion.  Then, I made a olive oil slurry to coat the cauliflower:

Enough olive oil to liberally coat your florets.  I used about 1/4 cup for this head
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp of rubbed, whole thyme
A generous grind of sea salt and pepper

Joanie added hot pepper flakes to her olive oil mix.  You can do so if you like some heat.  I imagine you could experiment with any spice mix that you desired.

I took the olive oil slurry, poured over the cauliflower and onion, tossed to coat everything, then spread into one layer on a cookie sheet.

I then placed on the top rack of our smoker at 350 F and roasted for 1.5 hours.  After 45 minutes, I went out and mixed up the florets on the sheet to promote even browning.  Here is what they looked like when they were done.

The pieces with the most brown were the best.  Sweet and caramelized with a bit of crunch.  This roasted cauliflower tastes nothing like its steamed cousin.  Go ahead, give it a try.  You won't be disappointed.  I eat this stuff like buttered popcorn.

In the coming weeks, I will be posting some other recipes that you can create with this roasted treat.  Check back to see what we will do.

Thanks for stopping by,


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pork Belly Burnt Ends

I've been wanting to try this one for awhile: making burnt ends with fresh, uncured, pork belly.  I was hoping to get a nice, thin layer of crispy skin with melt in your mouth pork flavor.  How did we do?  Well, here are the results.

First, I took at pork belly that was about 3.8 pounds.  I trimmed the back to even out the meat.  Then I slathered in yellow mustard and dusted both sides with Oakridge Secret Weapon Pork and Chicken rub.

I then let the rubbed belly sit on the counter while I fired up the smoker and brought to 250 F for smoking.  For smoke flavor, I added apple, hickory, and pecan wood into the ash pan.  Once the temperature stabilized in the cooker, I placed the belly on the top rack and cooked until it reached 175 F internal temperature.  Then I placed in an aluminum pan and foiled tight. Here is what the belly looked like at 175 F, just before it went in the foil pan.  It took about 3 hours to reach this temperature.

In the pan getting happy.

I then cooked until 195 F internal temperature, removed from the smoker, and let rest for 30 minutes.  After resting, I pulled from the pan and cut into one inch cubes.  Then, I dusted with more rub and added about 3/4 cup of Blues Hog Regular BBQ sauce with Blues Hog Tennessee Red.  Then, back into the pan and back on the smoker at 350 F for 30 more minutes.

Here is what they looked like after 30 minutes at 350 F.

How were they?  Well, the taste was excellent.  The fat was slightly crisp, but not perfect.  Unfortunately, the meat was a bit on the tough side.  But, still good.  Just not that melt in your mouth texture and flavor that I was looking for.  After some research after the fact, I have found that you should take pork belly to 150 F for a nice tender piece of meat.  Next time, I will try the lower temperature when trying to make these burnt ends.  If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to submit comments below.

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Going Whole Hog

We have some down time until our next competition.  In a change of pace, someone cooked for us instead of us cooking for friends or the judges.  Yesterday, we were invited to an old fashioned pig roast.

The above cooker has been in action for over 20 years I am told.  Is is constructed of your basic home heating oil tank, cut long ways with hinges placed on the back to form the lid.  Wheels were added to one side to allow for ease of moving.  Notches were also cut in the lid to accommodate the spit and motor for turning the guest of honor.  There are two pans that run along the bottom of the cooker on each side that hold charcoal for cooking.  It is a simple, effective design for sure.  I think I might have to look for an empty metal tank to add to our BBQ arsenal.

Today's guest of honor was a pig, that after dressing, was 75 lb.

This specimen of pork perfection took about 8 hours to come to 170 F internal temperature.  As you can see, the skin was a perfect crispy golden brown.  I could not wait to start sealing pieces off of this beautiful looking hog.

Hope volunteered to help our gracious host, Jimmy, pull the meat from the pig for the starving guests.  Fortunately, I was wearing a t-shirt that was quite instructional for our pig pulling duo.

The head was removed and a pork pulling frenzy broke out.

This pig was liberally injected with a creole honey butter for added flavor and to ensure a moist, tender end product.  Hope was happy to report that there was not one piece of this pork that was dry.  I sampled from various parts of the hog and as advertised, the jowl meat was the most tender.  I also liked the crispy strands that came from the belly area of the hog.  The meat was placed in containers and lightly sauced with Sweet Baby Rays.  This was some of the best pork I have ever had.  We just might try one at home.

Thanks for stopping by,


Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Never Ending Quest for the Perfect Rib

While we seem to have figured out our pork recipe for competition, ribs have been a nemesis as well this year.  So, off the the R&D labs to search for some improvement.

First, I took some spares, removed the membrane from the back, slathered in yellow mustard, and applied an even coating of Oakridge BBQ Secret Weapon Pork and Chicken rub.

Due to my friend Mark's suggestion, I am now going to cook my spares on this handy rack from now on (more on why later).

I then lit our Stretch and brought to a temperature of 250 F.  I then added apple, hickory, and pecan to the ash pan for some flavor.  Then, the ribs went on the smoker.  Here is a picture after an hour on the counter.  I let them sit out to come up to room temperature and to give the rub to make a nice coating on the rib.

I cooked for three hours, then placed the racks in a large foil pan.  Our cooling racks fit perfectly.  Then a added a mix of 1 cup peach preserves and 1 cup of apple juice to the top of the ribs and evenly distributed.  Then, I placed foil on the top and put back in the smoker for one hour.  Here is how they looked after that hour.

I then added our Blues Hog rib sauce and placed back into the smoker for one more hour.  Here the ribs are after saucing and before placing on the smoker.  I am loving that red color.

Here is the final product.

With the higher temperature (we were cooking at 235), we are now getting a product that is more tender.  Maybe even boarder line "too tender" for KCBS judges.  We will probably go back to 45 minutes in foil.  As for the taste, it was good, but I did not care for the peach preserve taste.  We will be moving back to our Tiger Sauce recipe.  Cross your fingers and wish us luck.

Thanks for stopping by,


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Moo Cow Ribs

I may be sacrilegious here, but I prefer a beef rib over any pork rib.  If cooked correctly:  crispy, rendered fat, the perfect rub creating a nice bark, lightly sauced or not, a beef rib can be heaven.  As a matter of fact, there is a place around here that takes the ribs from their weekend prime rib special, roasts them with some rub, and serves them as a special on Monday.  Outstanding.

Unfortunately, It is hard to find a full rack of beef ribs.  You usually get short ribs at the grocery.  Those are beef ribs cut across the bone.  They can be tough and hard to cook.  Or, you can get shorties:  single bones that are just not made for grilling or smoking.  For a full primer, check out this post from Amazing Ribs.

The last time we went to Restaurant Depot, they had full racks of beef back ribs.  So, into the cart they went.  We cut into racks of four bones and cyropacked for later consumption.

Don't those look beautiful?  I didn't know whether or not to smoke them or make the best pot of beef noodle soup ever.  I decided to smoke them, but soup in in the future this winter.

After pulling the membrane off of the back, I placed a light coat of rub on the underside of the rack.  Then, I flipped over and massaged some olive oil on the top, then placed a liberal coating of rub.  I used Oakridge Special Ops brisket rub for this cook.

While the ribs rested at room temperature, I brought the smoker up to 250 F and placed pecan in the ash pan for flavor.

The ribs took about 4 hours at 250 F to come to 184 F internal.  The probe was sliding through the ribs like butter.  This sweet spot can happen anytime between 180 and 190 F.  Once I hit this BBQ sweet spot, I pulled and let the rack rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

No sauce today.  I was looking for a nice, smoked beef flavor accented by a good beef rub.  I did not want to hide those tastes in even a light coating of rub.

Served with some fresh corn, this was a great holiday weekend treat.

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Grilled Chili Lime Shrimp Tacos

We love grilled shrimp around here.  We also love fresh, homemade salsa.  So, one lazy Sunday we decided to combine the two into a grilled taco.

First, we prepared a batch of our our now locally famous and frequently requested Fresh Homemade Salsa:

4 Cups Roma TomatoesDiced
¼ Cup Sweet OnionDiced
2 Jalapeno PeppersSeeded and diced fine
3 Cloves Garlic Minced 
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Dried Parsley
1 tsp Cumin
½ tsp Kosher Or Sea Salt
1 LimeJuiced

While the flavors in the salsa were mingling, I made a batch of Chile Lime marinade:

2 tsp of Stubbs Chili Lime Rub
Juice of one lime
Enough olive oil to make mobile

Then, I peeled, deveined, and cleaned some fresh 21/25 count shrimp.  Once complete, I placed in the marinade for one hour.  After the marinade time, I skewered the shrimp for the grill.

The shrimp were placed over hot coals for 1 1/2 minutes a side.  Once the cooking was complete, I placed the shrimp on the upper rack, away from the heat to keep them warm.

I then took some taco sized flour tortillas and grilled to slightly crisp on both sides.

Then, the assembly begins.  On each tortilla, I placed four of the grilled shrimp, followed by salsa, then a sprinkling of grated queso blanco.

These shrimp tacos were outstanding.  The shrimp was perfectly cooked with the grill taste adding a nice component to the over all flavor.  The salsa was fresh, adding a nice heat and slight tang to the overall dish.  The queso blanco added a creamy component that you would expect from a Mexican cheese.  These tacos were outstanding.  We will be making these again for sure.

Thanks for stopping by,