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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Roc City Ribfest - KCBS Event

Well, now on to day three of our Roc City Ribfest adventure.  After the soggy and muddy start, the final two days were full of sunshine.  The mud puddles even started to recede a bit.

One of the best aspects in the competition world are the friendships that you make over the years.  We primarily compete in New York, and this was the first competition of the year in the Empire State.  So, it was great catching up over the weekend on everyones lives.

Mitch is exactly where I left him last year, taking a nap.

Hollywood Butt Doubles working on their ribs.

Lets get down to business.  Scores and turn in boxes.

At first glance, it was not a good day for us.   But our overall score, 628.5828, was 20 points higher than last year and good for 42 out of 86 teams, two spots higher than last year.  

Our chicken was good for a 163.9884 and 29 out of 86.

Our grand champion ribs from Saturday were not so grand champion on Sunday.  146.2628 and 73 out of 86, plus a comment card saying they were over done.  I tend to agree.  Some days you are the windshield and some days you are the bug.  We were the bug.

Our pork scored a 155.4744, 55th out of 86.

Our brisket rebounded a bit from Annapolis, 162.8572, 28th out of 86.

Overall, we were happy with our cook.  But, after scanning the scores, we lost at table roulette.  We were on three of the toughest scoring tables of the competition.  Not much you can do there.  It is just luck of the draw.  Judging was tough this weekend.  Some very good teams had some very tough weekends.

Congrats to Priorville, our Grand Champions and to Aporkalypse Now, our Reserve Grand Champions. We had a side bet this weekend as well.  One six pack of craft beer to the overall chicken winner.  Our contribution was Dogfish 90 Minute IPA.  Keith with KC and the Smokeshack Band was the winner and walked home with 91 bottles of fine brew.  Will you be bringing some of your hoppy bounty to Cross Boarder?

Would also like to send congrats to our good friends at Locked and Loaded BBQ.

They had a very good weekend with a sixth place chicken entry.  Also, Caleb entered the Kids Q competition on Saturday.  This years entry was steak.  Caleb cooked a beautiful looking strip steak to perfection and a second place.  Good job Caleb.

Finally, huge kudos go out to Brian, Jon, Kelly, and the rest of the Roc City crew.  You always run a first rate competition and this year, you did so in fire fighting mode.  Finding places for everyone in soft and muddy conditions and providing them with electric and water was a miracle.  We will see you next year.

Next up, Cross Boarder Blues, Brews, and Ques.

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

World Bacon Championship - Roc City Ribfest

BPart of the day one festivities at the Roc City Ribfest is a NEBS sanctioned contest with a theme: The World Bacon Championship.  This year, the four categories consisted of; Bacon in a Box (no garnish, no applied seasoning or rub), Your take on a BLT, Beef Burger with Bacon, and Bacon Dessert.  This year we teamed up with Sandy from Locked and Loaded BBQ to compete as Three Dogs BBQ for the NEBS contest.  Lets go right to the entries.

First up, Bacon in a Box:

Who doesn't like bacon?  Well, apparently the judges do not like ours.  We placed 41st out of 44 teams.  We did not do well last year as well.  We have just used bacon bought at specialty smokehouses.  To be honest, we are going to have to cure and smoke our own bacon next year.  You are allowed to add seasoning during the cure process.  Lots of teams cure and smoke their own bacon for this competition.

Next up, our take on a BLT:

We went the stuffed tomato route.  I sliced roma tomatoes and scooped out the pulp and seeds.  Then, we coated with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  I placed them in the smoker at 350 F, skin side up, for 10 minutes to get some caramelization on the tomato.  Then, I filled with a mixture of crumbled bacon (cooked on the smoker), diced romaine, thinly sliced green onion, and mayonnaise.  Once filled, we sprinkled panko bread crumbs on top.  This was good for a sixth place out of 44.  Our best showing of the day.

Next was the beef burger with bacon.  This category was open platter, open garnish:

Slider sized burgers, grilled to perfection.  We topped with bacon, BLT dip, and topped the bun with a dill chip.  This entry scored 38th out of 44.

Finally, the dessert category:

Peanut butter, banana, bacon pie, topped with chocolate butter cream frosting, chocolate drizzle, and crumbled bacon on the butter cream.  This scored 19th out of 44.  Not bad considering desserts have been an issue for us in the past.  We may not have won a ribbon, but at 1200 calories a slice, we at least facilitated a visit to the cardiologist for six judges.

So, overall, we placed 31st out of 44 teams.  Congratulations go out to our Grand Champion, Delivering Smoke BBQ from Niagara Falls, Canada.  They also scored a perfect 180 on their burger entry.  Also, congrats to Diva Q, also from Canada, our Reserve Grand Champion.  She scored a perfect 180 for their BLT entry.

As always, the fairgrounds were alive with the smell of bacon.  Just imagine 44 cook sites focused on cooking four bacon dishes.  It is a beautiful thing.

Finally, we would like to thank Sandy from Locked and Loaded BBQ for joining the Three Dogs BBQ crew for the day.  It was a great time working with you.  Let's do it again next year.

Thanks for stopping by,


Monday, May 26, 2014

The Perfect Rib (For a Day at Least...)

This past weekend, Three Dogs BBQ packed up the road show and drove up to Rochester, NY to take part in the festivities at the Roc City Ribfest.  There are two days of competitions at this festival.  On Saturday, the World Bacon Championship, a sanctioned NEBS grilling competition, and the Roc City Rib Cookoff, a non-sanctioned charity rib cook off, were held at the Genessee Valley Park.  All 86 professional teams are entered into the rib contest and we were joined by 30 backyard teams, 116 total teams, to determine the best rib in Rochester.  The rules and scoring system is KCBS, but the event is non-sanctioned.

Each backyard team pays $40 to enter and the public can pay to judge for $20.  All of the money raised for the rib cook off is donated to two charitable foundations in the Rochester area: Rochester Childrens Hospital and The Ronald McDonald House.

If you follow this blog, you know that ribs have been our nemesis over the years.  But, over the winter, we have put a lot of time into improving our rib scores.  Our prior entries have scored us a 74th and a 47th place.  So, this was our first try with the revamped recipe.  The only thing we did differently was we cooked our ribs 30 minutes more in foil than usual.  Other than that, the recipe was the same that has been posted here.  Why longer in foil?  I was told that for public judging, the judges prefer a rib with fall off the bone meat.  Remember, KCBS judges want their ribs bite through with a little tug. So, that is what we did.

Here was our entry.

Nice color.  Good shine.  How were they?  Well, I give you the perfect rib.  It wasn't a perfect 180.  We scored a 176.5716.  But, on this day, with these judges, at this event, it was good enough to be be perfect.  We are very happy and proud to say the Three Dogs BBQ are the Roc City Ribfest Rib Cook Off Grand Champions.

It is nice to know that hard work, tips from your friends (Chilebrown and Hutch, you have a little bit of this trophy), and patience can pay off in the long run.

Congrats to the Reserve Grand Champions, Shortsville Smokers.  You guys are a class act and fun to be around.  Also, the Rochester Childrens Hospital and Ronald McDonald House are winners as well.  As has been tradition in the past, the winning teams donated back their prize money for these great causes.  Finally, congrats to all of the participants of the Roc City Rib Cook Off.  We will see all of you next year.

Thanks for stopping by,


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Is this a Good Omen?

I got home from work today and my wonderful wife had the trailer packed and ready to go for the weekend.  All we had to do was tie down the smokers and turn the beast around.  Moving a 24 foot trailer in limited space can be a challenge.  But, I am full of myself after todays feat.

I backed that bad boy up in one swing between the well head and our dogwood.

Then I pulled forward and down the driveway.

In one swing, I backed the trailer into its spot, turned around and ready to go for tomorrow.

Hope was quite impressed with me.  So was I.  Is this a good omen for the weekend at the Roc City Ribfest?  Lets hope so.

Thanks for stopping by,


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Happy Anniversary Hope!

Three years ago today, I married my wife.  It was one of the best days of my life that I will always remember.  She is my partner and my best friend.  Best of all, she indulges me in my BBQ habit.  As a matter of fact, she may be more passionate than I am.  Last Saturday we went out for our traditional night on the town for a perfectly cooked steak.  This year we chose Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.

We started off the evening with a perfectly dirty martini.

Then followed that up with carpaccio that is to die for.  Ruth's serves with a garlic aioli, torn romaine,  shaved Parmesan, and garlic crostini toast.  The thinly sliced tenderloin just melts in your mouth.

I also ordered a sampler of oysters on the half shell.  Good eats here.

The main course were perfectly rare (and mooing) ribeyes.

For dessert, we ordered the bread pudding that came with a message.

Our waitress, Kim, was top notch.  Just what you would expect from a high end steakhouse.

Is a steakhouse old school?  Perhaps.  Is it pricey?  A bit.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.

Happy Anniversary Hope.  I love you.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Smoked Spam: The Great American Mystery Meat

Over Mothers Day weekend, I was looking for a quick appetizer idea.  A quick bite before the steaks were put on the grill.  Preferably, it would be something I could throw on the smokers as I was burning out the built up gunk on the inside before our next competition.

So, I took a quick inventory of the kitchen shelves for something quick, easy, and that would be good.  Low and behold, look at what I found.

Spam, that mystical, mystery meat from our childhood.  I had a lot of bologna and chipped ham sandwiches back in my childhood days, but occasionally Mom would slide in some Spam, or Spam's first cousin, Treat.  For those of you who do not know what Spam is, here is a quick summary of Spam.

Basically, Spam is spiced, canned ham.

I seem to remember the outside being encased in gel?  Is this a kinder, gentler, lower fat Spam now?Anyway, some joke that Spam is made from leftovers from the pig after processing.  Lips, hooves, everything but the oink.  My Mom usually pan fried slices and served on squishy white bread with sliced onion, perhaps a tomato, American cheese, and mayonnaise.  Others pan fry and serve with eggs.  I decided to try and elevate this premium ham product and go the smoked route.

So, I took the "fillet" of processed ham goodness and scored the top with crisscross knife slices.
Then, for the rub, I dusted all sides of the Spam with a liberal coating of Dizzy Pig Pineapple Head rub.

Hawaiians serve their Spam with grilled pineapple garnish, so why not a pineapple rub?

Then, I placed the Spam on the top rack of our smoker at 350 F with a piece of hickory wood in the ash pan for some smoke.

Thirty minutes later, the rub was forming a nice crust on the outside and the scored cuts were opening up, making this hunk of Spam look like a premium ham.

At this point, I squirted some Blues Hog Tennessee Red BBQ sauce on the top to glaze our Spam.

After adding the BBQ sauce, I let our appetizer cook for 15 more minutes to set the glaze.  Then, removed from the smoker, and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

How was it?  Surprisingly good.  The heat added a nice crispy crust on the outside.  The pineapple rub and tangy BBQ sauce provided this piece of Spam with a nice acidity to counteract the fattiness of the Spam.  One negative was that I forgot how salty Spam was.  Overall though, it was good.  This is not your Mothers Spam.

Don't be afraid, don't turn up your nose.  Embrace your childhood memories and give this recipe a try.

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Smoked Rack of Pork

When you get down to it, a rack of pork is one big pork chop before the butcher slices them up into individual chops.  I love roasting this cut of meat on the smoker at high heat so that the outside gets crispy and brown and the inside says nice and juicy.

How do you get to here?  Well, read on...

First, I take my rack of pork, rinse with water and pat dry.

Then, after a thorough massaging with olive oil, I liberally apply rub to all surfaces of the meat with whatever flavor I am in the mood for that day.  In this case, I used Dizzy Pig Raging River Rub.  This rub is a nice combination of citrus and maple flavors.  It really does pair well with pork.  But, you could use whatever you have on hand or whatever you are in the mood for that day.

I fired up my smoker to 375 F, then placed the pork on the top rack with some apple wood in the ash pan.  I cooked to an internal temperature of 140 F, then pulled from the smoker and let rest with foil tented over the meat for 15 minute.  At this point, to slice, I remove the bones, then slice the roast part of the rack.

The high heat smoking locks in the juices and makes for a nice, juicy and fork tender piece of pork.  One of my favorite methods for preparing this cut of meat.

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Chili Lime Rubbed Red Drum and the First Asparagus of the Year

Every year since he retired, our good friend Jerry heads down to the Florida Gulf Coast to go fishing. Jerry is like Captain Ahab, sitting in his boat, trolling in relentless pursuit of its plentiful bounty.  This year, we were lucky enough to score some care packages of sea trout and red drum.

At the same time, the asparagus in our garden was ready for its first trimming of the year.  I honestly thought it was still frozen after this past winter.  This is the latest our asparagus has ever peaked its head above ground. But, Hope happily trimmed our delicious green stalks to have with our ocean treat.  Off to the grill we go.

I am a minimalist when it comes to grilling fish.  A light rub, or perhaps some blackening spice, and some olive oil as usually all that a fresh fillet will see around here.  We chose the red drum for dinner on this evening.  Red drum is a nice, firm white fish with a mild flavor.  It will hold up to the grill nicely.  

I used to use Stubbs Chili Lime Rub, but our store no longer carries this product.  So, on short notice, I settled for Mrs. Dash Salt Free Chili Lime Rub.  Anyway, I put 2 Tbsp of the rub in a bowl with some salt and pepper, then added enough olive oil to make the rub mobile, and the juice of one lime.  Into a plastic bag and about one hour of marinade time.

For the asparagus, we whisked some granulated garlic, salt, and pepper with some olive oil and let everything mingle in a plastic bag.  Then, I lit my charcoal and prepared a nice, hot fire.

The asparagus went on first.  I placed the spears on direct heat, moved them around a bit, then moved after five minutes off to the side. 

Then, the drum fillets were placed on direct heat.  I flipped after about four minutes and let cook for about four more minutes, eight minutes of total cooking time.  The fish was starting to flake, a sure sign of doneness, when I removed the fillets from the fire.  

This grilled red drum was some of the best fish I have ever had.  Firm, meaty, with a nice blacked exterior and a juicy interior.  The chili lime flavor was nice, but I hope to find a better rub.  If anyone has a recipe for a good chili lime rub it would be appreciated!  The first asparagus of the year never disappoints.  Slightly caramelized on the outside, tender crisp on the inside and sugary sweet.  This is the gift that will keep on giving for a month.  

Thanks for stopping by,


Monday, May 5, 2014

Naptown barBAYq Contest and Music Festival: A Nice Start to the Season

With great anticipation and a chilly morning, we hooked up the trailer last Friday and drove down to the Naptown section of Annapolis for the Naptown barBAYq Contest and Music Festival for our first competition of 2014.

After negotiating the PA Turnpike traffic and construction and the traffic that only the Greater DC area can bring, we finally arrived at the Anne Arundel Fairgrounds and found our spot.  It was a pull through spot, so no turning around and backing the trailer into our spot.  Things were shaping up nicely.

We set the trailer up, put everything in its place, rubbed and injected our butts and brisket, then sit down for a bit to hydrate.

Proper hydration is key...

We then stopped by the BBQ Guru tent to pick up some new pit probes.  

Same price as online, but no shipping.  So, another win.

After sunset, we fired up our smokers and waited to put on our larger cuts of meat.

Everything is running fine at midnight, so off to bed for some sleep.

We awoke to a beautifully smokey sunrise and enjoyed some coffee.

Said good morning to our neighbors over at Lo and Slo BBQ.

Prepared the ribs and brined the chicken, it was time to get down to some serious BBQ.

Here were our scores.

Now the breakdown:

Our chicken entry was good for a 167.9884 out of a possible 180 and 11th place.  A team best for chicken score.  As you might imagine, I was dumbfounded when I saw the 5 for appearance when the other 5 judges gave 8's and 9's.  We probably didn't deserve 9's, but that box is better than a 5.  But, they throw out the lowest score, so I got over my issues and moved on.  

Our ribs were good for 161.6800 and 21st place.  Again, a team best for total rib score.  They could have been a little more tender.  But, we'll gratefully take this score.  Thanks for the help Hutch and Chilebrown.  

Our pork box was good for a 159.4056 and 32nd place.  I thought these butts turned out so good that for the first time, we were confident enough to add pulled, chunks, and money muscle to the box.  But, some may have been a hair over done and it may have been a bit under sauced.  But, overall, I was good with this score.  

Finally, the brisket.

The above box was good for a 153.1544 and 33rd place.  I have to say, I am really proud of this score.  Why?  That flat was downright dry.  Not overdone, just dry.  Then, I remembered Lee Ann Whippen on BBQ Pitmasters resuscitating a dry brisket with her injection and 15 more minutes on the smoker. Guess what?  It works.  Lee Ann, if you happen to ever read this, thanks!

So, overall we scored 642.2284.  This was good for 22 out of 60 teams.  This was our second highest point total ever.  Not bad for the first time out in 2014.  Congrats to 3Eyz BBQ, our Grand Champions and to Lo-N-Slo BBQ, our Reserve Grand Champion.  Full results from the KCBS website.

We would also like to say hi to our new friends Chip and Sally with Big Chippers BBQ.

Chip, that is one sweet trailer!

Finally, thanks to our BBQ Groupies, Deb and Jerry for the moral support and letting us crash at their place on the way home.

Overall, we were very happy with our showing this weekend.  Hopefully we can mike some minor changes and improve on our scores as the year progresses.  

Next up, the Roc City Ribfest in Rochester, NY on Memorial Day weekend.  Hope to see you there.

Thanks for stopping by,