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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Crossboarder Blues, Brew, and Que - Wilson, NY

This past weekend the Three Dogs road show packed up and headed to Wilson, NY for the Crossboarder Blues, Brews, and Que.  This is only our second time to this competition, but I must say, this "not so little anymore" competition is one of our favorites.

For once, it was a beautiful weekend.  Dry, except for 20 minutes of rain after turn ins on Saturday.  Was it possible that the red sky at night was a prediction of good things to come...  

As Saturday dawned, the cooking heated up and we prepared our turn ins, plus two extra categories: Rethinking Chicken and Leftovers.  The Rethinking Chicken category, meant to encourage teams to turn in something outside the normal BBQ chicken, had to be turned in using KCBS rules.  The leftover category had to use one of your leftover meats with illegal garnish.  Illegal garnish means anything legal under KCBS rules.  No garnish, as it is optional under the rules, would be a disqualification.  For our Rethinking Chicken, we turned in a smoked chicken leg with a sticky Asian style sauce consisting of ketchup, honey, ketchup, sriracha, fish sauce, and lime juice.

This entry did not fare so well with the judges, coming in 22nd out of 27 teams.

Our leftover category, of which I do not have a picture, was a leftover Philly brisket grilled cheese with sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms on sourdough garlic bread with provolone cheese.  This entry scored us a walk, coming in 8th out of 29 teams.  A nice start to the day.  Next up, the KCBS turn ins.

Our boxes above were good for a 4th in chicken, 7th in ribs, 12th in pork, and 24th in brisket.  Those scores added up to a 7th place over all out of 47 teams.  Our best finish to date.  Practice is paying off for us.  We had a solid cook and can't wait on the next competition to see if we improve further.

Congratulations go out to Kiss My BBQ, our Reserve Grand Champions and to Nickel City Smokers,  our Grand Champions.

Finally, special thanks go out to Frank and Carol Tutzauer for putting on a great competition.  Sometimes, we do not thank our organizers enough.  But Carol and Frank put on a great comp, down to grillades and grits for breakfast, growlers from Woodcock Brothers Brewing with a free fill for swag, and a great line up of bands.  I didn't hear one bad band all weekend.  Great job guys.  Sign us up for next year now!

Next up for Three Dogs BBQ is the Covington Cork and Pork in Covington, VA on June 26-27th. This is a last minute entry for us and should be very interesting.  More on this contest next week.

Thanks for stopping by,


Friday, June 5, 2015

Beer and Bratwurst Pizza

With the new grilled pizza cookbook we received as well as our grill gadget pizza oven, we have been experimenting with different types of pizza.  We do run into a few pizza competitions each summer and perhaps a new creation will turn out to be a winning entry sometime in the future.  After leafing though the pizza cookbook, I was inspired by a ballpark style hot dog pizza.  Hot dogs are good.  Bratwurst is even better.  Chedarwurst, brats peppered with little bits of cheddar goodness, are my favorite.  I felt a pizza experimentation coming on fast.  Here is what we came up with one warm Friday evening.

Hope made a batch of dough.  While the dough was rising, I simmered two fresh brat links that I had picked up from my butcher earlier that day in some Penn Dark.  I always simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, or just until the casing on the link starts to expand.  At the same time, I caramelized  half of a medium sweet onion.  Finally, I took a quart of homemade sauerkraut that a friend of The Oldest makes every year and dumped into a colander to drain.  (One note should you decide to try this recipe.  Do not use canned sauerkraut.  Buy the fresh stuff that you find in the plastic bag in the meat case, or make your own.  The fresh kraut is crispy in texture and at the same time tart, but not sour like canned kraut.)  Once the dough was ready, I layered the pizza skin with a very thin coat of olive oil, thinly sliced sharp cheddar, sauerkraut, my caramelized onions, and then finally my bratwurst, sliced into quarter inch rounds.

Eight minutes in the pizza oven later, and here was the final product.

After slicing, I served with a little drizzle of spicy brown mustard on top.

Good, but not quite there.  I needed more onion, cheese, and perhaps a tough of garlic.  But, the flavors are there.  The bratwurst crisped up nicely and retained a bit of that beer infusion.  The sauerkraut started to brown and caramelize in places as well.  Perhaps some caraway seeds are in order.  This experiment was a good start.  I will be making this pie again with some modifications in the future for sure.

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Smoked Leg of Lamb Gyros

A perfect storm came together in the last few months that facilitated some experimentation with the smoker.  Number one, Costco over stocked on lamb for Easter.  The week after, they had a whole case filled with boneless legs of lamb at $4.99/lb.  Their mistake was our gain.  I snatched up one for our freezer at home.  In hindsight, I should have grabbed a few.  Number two, Hope went out of town for the weekend.  So, the menu was wide open.  Lamb falls in Hope's "too cute to eat category" and I take advantage of the times she is gone to eat from the forbidden list.  That's just more for me.

Last year I prepared a rack of lamb for me and The Youngest to devour.  This year I was looking for something different.  My choice was a smoked leg of lamb gyro.

First, I prepared an injection for my lamb.

"Greek" Style Lamb Injection

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brine from the olive jar
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves of garlic, diced fine. I also ran the spices through my coffee grinder to make them fine. I injected and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day I prepared a rub to season the leg of lamb further.

"Greek" Style Lamb Rub

1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper run through the spice grinder to make fine.

I massaged some olive oil onto the surface of the lamb and coated liberally, making sure to apply the rub to all of the cracks and crevasses in the meat.  Then, I let the lamb sit on the counter top to come to room temperature.

I was going for pulled. so I smoked at 250 with grape wood as was intending to take the leg to 195 F internal temperature.  But, it was late when I started smoking the lamb and by 7 pm I was ready to gnaw my arm off.  So, when the lamb was at 165 F internal temperature I abandoned the pulled lamb idea. I removed the leg from the smoker, let rest for 20 minutes, then sliced.

I made some homemade tzatziki sauce and served with onion, tomato and spring mix. The bread was store bought pita flat bread. Believe it or not, 30 seconds in the microwave between two damp paper towels and it was just like a gyro store pita.  Soft and chewy.

Oh yeah, this is what I was looking for, a high quality gyro made with smoked lamb.  Much better than your "Elephant Leg" mystery meat.  The next time the store puts lamb on sale, I will have to be sure to pick up more to make these in the future.  

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Roc City Rib Fest 2015: BBQ and Blue Angels

Last weekend, the Three Dogs Road Show packed up and headed to Rochester, NY to compete in the Roc City Rib Fest.

A field of 57 strong teams from all along the Midwest, East Coast, New England, and Canada in both the World Bacon Championship on Saturday and the KCBS sanctioned BBQ contest on Sunday.  What more could you ask for?  Well, how about and airshow with biplanes, parachuters, and World War II vintage planes?  Check.  What about highly trained fighter pilots performing death defying feats?  Check.  When walking out of the trailer on Friday afternoon, I was treated to the Blue Angels, screaming over the Gennessee Valley Park in tight diamond formation, feet separating all four.  This could be a very distracting weekend.

After putting the aerial fun behind us, we started to focus on our Saturday competition, the New England Barbecue Society sanctioned World Bacon Championship.  The four categories were:  Bacon in a Box, Breakfast that had to contain egg in some form, Turkey, and Dessert.

Our breakfast turn in was a sweet pepper stuffed with scrambled egg, onion and bacon.  The turkey offering was a white wine brined turkey breast with a basil pesto and bacon stuffing.  Dessert was chocolate lava cakes with a candied bacon topping.  I thought the turkey dish was outstanding, but we only came in 29th out of 38 with our offering.  Bacon in a Box came in 25th, breakfast in 33rd, and dessert in 35th.  This was good enough for a 34th place overall finish.  Lets face it, we do not do well in the WBC.  But, we keep trying and some year, we just might find what it takes.

Also on Saturday was the Roc City Rib Cookoff, a non-sanctioned event that benefits the Roc City Rib Fest charities.  With some poking and prodding, I talked Hope into cooking our turn-in for that contest.

As you might remember, Three Dogs BBQ was the 2014 Grand Champion in this contest.  We were hoping to repeat.  Unfortunately, we did not.  We came in 43rd out of 54.  More importantly though, I think Hope did very well and turned out a nice box for her first time cooking.  Hopefully, I can get her to try her hand at cooking more often.

In the Sunday KCBS competition, we fared a little better.

Overall, we came in 29th out of 57 teams.  So, no swag for the weekend.  Two positives to take away are that we increased our total score over the prior week in Syracuse with three of our tables falling into the lower half of the scoring for the day.  Also, our brisket and ribs continue to be strong this year.  It looks like our winter time practicing is paying off this summer.  Also, our chicken has picked up where it was last year.  Just a few tweaks with our pork and we will be happy for sure.

We would like to thank Brian, Kelly, and the rest of the Roc City crew for putting on another good festival.  I don't know where you get your bands, but they are always rocking the house.  Finally, congrats to Luke and Kim from Old Virginia Smoke, our Grand Champions and to Bill, Shaune, Alan, and their Jack Russell sidekick Shakes with Smokin' Hoggz (reigning American Royal Invitational Champs) our Reserve Grand Champion.

It is time to take a bit of a rest.  We'll see you in a few weeks in Wilson, NY for the Crossboarder Blues, Brews, and Que.  If you have never attended, I highly suggest that you make some time to go Fathers Day weekend.  The bands are great and the beer at Woodcock Brewing is outstanding.

Thanks for stopping by,