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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hudson Valley Ribfest 2014: KCBS Competiton

The Three Dogs BBQ road show packed up and headed to New Paltz, NY this past weekend to compete in the Hudson Valley Ribfest for the weekend.

So, after picking up some provisions at Dave's Country Meats...



... and some other odds and ends, we hit the road for the long drive out east.


We were the first team on site Friday, so it was easy to back into our site.  Was this a good omen?


The smoke was rolling on Sunday morning...


And we had a rather large dancing chicken next to us as well.


How did we do?  Well, the scores tell the story.


In the "it tasted better than it looked" category was our chicken box.


I've never had so may legs with split skin.  These were our best looking six legs.  But, the taste and tenderness was good enough to net us a 9th place out of 60 teams.  A good start to the day.

Next up, our ribs.


We switched to baby backs for this competition and the change paid off for us.  We garnered our best KCBS score of the year, good enough for a 12th place.

Then, the pork box...


We should not have put the money muscle in the box.  It was underdone.  But, my heart won out over my brain and we paid for the decision.  We took 45th place with this box.  Lesson learned.

Finally, our brisket.


After a bit of struggling this year, we changed our cooking method this time around and it helped for sure.  This box came in 7th.  Add it all up and we came in 17th place overall out of 60 teams.  Our pork definitely kept us out of the top ten and maybe even the top five.  It was just not to be.  What can you do?

Hudson Valley was our first competition in 2011.  This competition holds a special place in our heart since it was our first.  Also, Rolf and Stephanie do a wonderful job organizing this competition.  Keep up the good job guys.

Finally, congrats to all who walked.  Team Eatapedia, nice to see you end your mini slump and Shortsville Smokers on their top 10 overall.  Also, big congrats to our Grand Champion Ack-Que and Reserve Grand Champion Blazin Butts BBQ.

We are already planning our trip for next year.  See you then.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Grilled Flank Steak with Orange-Ginger Marinade

We are currently running a Chest Freezer Dysfunctional Inventory Reduction Project.  I found this steak towards the bottom of the freezer.  Bingo.  Dinner!  We love flank steak around here.  Our butcher always has good looking steaks of high quality and low fat.  So, whenever he has them on sale, we stock up for those nights when we are looking for some good beef without all the fat.  The only problem is that a flank steak can turn into shoe leather if not cooked properly.  A good marinade is the solution.

I am partial to Asian flavors when cooking flank steak.  I just like how the Asian flavor mingles with that rich beefy taste.  Today, we are looking at a concoction with orange and ginger flavors.

First, I thawed the steak, rinsed well, and patted dry...



Then, I mixed my marinade:

1/2 cup Orange Juice (the acid helps to break down the proteins in the meat, helping to tenderize)
1/4 cup of Moores Beef Marinade.  We like this as it is one of the lower salt marinades on the market.  Soy sauce will work here as well.
1 Tbsp of Garlic Ginger paste.  Available at any Indian market.
1 Tbsp of Sesame Oil

I whisked it all together and combined in a plastic bag with my steak...




Every time I walked into the kitchen I flipped the bag over to ensure an even marinade.  The longer you let the meat sit in the marinade, more flavor will be imparted in the end product and the meat will be  more tender.  This one marinaded for about 5 hours.

To cook, I got a screaming hot grill and placed the steak directly over the coals.  I closed the lid, then flipped after 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes on the second side, I pulled from the grill and let the steak rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes before slicing...





Still medium in the middle.  I could have pulled this one a little earlier.  But, still moist and tender with hints of orange, garlic, and ginger.  We served this with a side of ginger accented rice pilaf.

For the pilaf, I sauteed sweet onion and celery in some olive oil, then added 1/2 tsp of ground ginger powder to the saute at the end...



This mixture was placed in 2 cups of beef broth and 1 cup of uncooked rice.  Brought to a boil, covered the pot, and simmered for 20 minutes..




While the rice was cooking, I lightly toasted some pine nuts in a skillet on low heat.  You do not need to add oil to the skillet, but you do need to keep your eye on them so they do not burn...



When the rice was cooked, I added the toasted pine nuts and served with the sliced flank steak...




Thanks for stopping by...

Bill

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Feta Cheese with Pickled Banana Peppers

John Thomson is the pit master for Team Eatapedia, a competition BBQ team based in Ottawa Canada.  He was preparing a wide range of bacon dishes for his appearance in BaconFest that was held in Ottawa a few weeks ago.  In the interest of public health, one of Team Eatapedia's offerings was a bacon wrapped cheese curd.  In this evil concoction a cheese curd, not known as low fat by any stretch of the imagination, was wrapped with bacon and then smoked until the cheese was gooey and the bacon was crispy.  My heart skipped a beat just looking at the picture.  It was a sheer genius pairing of porky goodness and creamy dairy.  I wanted to try this creation at home as a smoky treat.  Unfortunately, I have no idea where to find cheese curds in the Pittsburgh area, other than at an A&W where they are battered and deep fried.  So, I did a little research on what cheeses have a high melt point.  After scanning my options, I settled on feta cheese.  Creamy, tangy, and a very high melt point.  Perfect for my little experiment.

First, I purchased a block of feta and measured out my cube width before cutting with a strip of bacon.


I cut off my row, then cut into cubes that would accommodate one strip of bacon.


I placed my feta cube on one end of the bacon, topped with a pickled slice of banana pepper, rolled up, and held it all in place with a toothpick.



I placed these future nuggets of joy on a wire rack, then placed on the middle rack of my smoker.  The smoker temperature was 225 F and I had some hickory wood in my ash pan for some flavor.  Then, I cooked until the bacon was crispy.

One hour:


Two hours:


Done, about two and a half hours.


The cheese was hot and creamy on the inside.  The feta also formed a nice smoky crust on the exposed edges.  The banana pepper added some acid that helped to cut through the creaminess of the cheese and a nice spicy bite as well.  The bacon brought it all together like a nice crispy bow.  This appetizer will be making frequent appearances in the future when our smoker is chugging along on those long cooks.  Thanks for the idea John!

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Jet Engine" Steaks

I have seen a lot of talk lately about "Cowboy Style" steaks.  This is where you light your lump charcoal, and when the coals are red and ready to go, you place you meat directly on the fire to cook. Generally it is for two and a half minutes a side.  Word has it that your steak comes out crispy on the outside and rare on the inside, just the way we like our steaks around here.  While it sounds good in practice, I am not that you do not get ash on your steak.  Wouldn't that be a little off putting?  Then, I remembered an episode of Alton Brown's Good Eats where he cooked porterhouse steaks under a chimney of lit coals.  Fast forward to today where, after some research, I have heard of the Jet Engine method.  Basically, it is the Alton Brown chimney method, but you just put a grate on the top of your chimney full of lit coals, and cook your steaks for two and a half minutes a side.  That, I was willing to try.  So, ladies and gentlemen, please buckle your seat belts, return your tray tables and seat backs to their full and upright locked position, it is time for this flight to takeoff.  Sitting in cattle class is encouraged.

The first time I tried this our butcher, Dave's Country Meats, had a great deal on some beautiful beef fillet.  Nice and thick, I thought there would be some leeway for mistakes and help prevent over cooking.


I brushed the outsides with melted butter and seasoned with granulated garlic, salt, and pepper.  Then, I let the meat rest on the counter top to come to room temperature.


I filled the chimney full of lump charcoal, and let them get nice and hot.  When ready, I shook the chimney to settle the coals, then placed the rack from my Smokey Joe on top to get hot as well.


Then, the moment of truth.  I placed the fillets on the grill.


Big time sizzle.  But, after two minutes, I was a bit afraid they would be undercooked.  So, I decided to go three minutes a side.  Here they are after the flip.


When done, I brought them inside and let them rest for about five minutes, then we dug into this meaty feast.


We paired with some sautéed collard greens and kale.


Mine was perfect medium.  A bit past what I was looking for, but still, very good.


Hope's was perfect medium rare as her steak was a bit thicker than mine.


Both were very good.  And, all of that talk about steakhouse quality is true.  You could have put that in front of me at Ruth's or Morton's and I would not have complained one bit.  The plus is that we had  steakhouse quality steaks for two for under $25.  You can't do that at a mega-chain restaurant.

So, after some talking in the BBQ community, I was told you have to put them on refrigerator cold.  That would get you the rare cook that I was looking for.  So, the steak special of this past week was NY Strips.  I am ready to take this flight again.

Brushed with butter, seasoned with granulated garlic, salt, and pepper, then placed the meat back in the refrigerator.


Started my charcoal and placed my rack in place.  A friend of mine was even kind enough to provide me with a round grilling rack that fits nicely on my chimney starter.


Since NY strips are thinner than fillet, I decided upon one and a half minutes a side and I was sticking to it, period.  On the steaks went.


After the flip.


Inside and resting.


This time, we served with some grilled tomatoes topped with mozzarella cheese.  It is a big meaty smile!


The verdict?


Perfect rare.  Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside.  The high heat really helps to sear the outer layer of meat, locking those juices inside.

I am very happy with the "Jet Engine" method for cooking steaks.  I may never cook one any other way.  The Internet rumors are true, you do get steakhouse taste and quality.  Adjust your cooking times to get the doneness that appeals to you.  Now, go buy a chimney starter and some lump charcoal and enjoy your flight.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill