Search This Blog


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Salt City BBQ Festival - Syracuse, NY

Last weekend, the Three Dogs BBQ roadshow packed up the trailer and competed in our second competition of 2015 at the Salt City BBQ Festival in downtown Syracuse, NY.

This festival was set up to benefit Phoenix Philosophies, an organization that purchases and renovates homes to house homeless veterans in Syracuse, NY.  A fine charity to help raise funds for their cause.

The competition was held in Clinton Square, so the competition areas were a bit tight.  But, after some slick trailer work, we were ready to fire up the smokers and get ready for the upcoming festivities.

We were looking to rebound from our less than stellar performance in Annapolis two weeks prior.  But, we didn't let a steady rain overnight on Friday dampen our spirits.  Our friends Sean and Adriane from Red Valley BBQ were in the site next to us and their sense of humor helped to get us through the soggy night.

After a long night of the smokers rolling smoke, full of meat, Saturday dawned clear and mild, making up for the rainy evening.

I even had a chance to get a quick shower when clearing the trailer awning of accumulated rain water.  If I only had thought to grab my shampoo...

After drying off, it was time to buckle down and prepare for our upcoming turn-ins.  Would we improve?  Would we slide back further?  Here are our turn in boxes.  You be the judge.

So, how did we do?  Well, our scores were very satisfying.  We received three top ten's: 4th in brisket, 8th in ribs, and 10th in pork, along with an 11th in chicken.  That added up to 9th place overall, good enough for our first top ten finish.  Needless to say, Hope and I were very happy.  But, BBQ is a lot like golf.  For every step forward, you tend to take two steps back.  But, like a birdie on the 18th hole, we will take these results and move forward, hoping to improve further.

Congrats go out to Priorville, our Grand Champion and to Good Smoke BBQ, our Reserve Grand Champion.  We would also like to congratulate Pig Iron BBQ on their strong 5th place overall finish, Galloways Hellfire BBQ for their first place ribs, and to Red Valley BBQ for their strong finish as well.

No rest for the weary this week.  Time to prepare for the Roc City Rifest this upcoming weekend in Rochester, NY.  If you happen to be there, stop by and say hi.

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Smoked Pork Roast Braised in Bloody Mary Mix

Sometimes you go out for dinner and the dish you order is so good you want to try it at home.  Last August, while traveling to the Hudson Valley Rifest, we spent the night in Bloomsburg, PA and went to the Turkey Hill Brewing Company for dinner.  I ordered the special: Pork shank, braised in Bloody Mary mix.  It was very good.  So good that this instantly hit my re-creation list at home.  It may have taken nine months, but I finally got around to giving this recipe a try at home.  I must say, I think I did pretty good.

I cannot find pork shank in my little neck of the woods.  So, I substituted a bone in pork roast, about three and a half pounds in size.

Next, I diced the following: half of a sweet onion, two ribs of celery, two peeled carrots, and four cloves of garlic.  I tossed this mix in two tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp rosemary, 1/2 tsp sage, and some salt and pepper.  Once mixed, I spread into the bottom of my nine quart cast iron dutch oven.

Next, I ground 1/4 tsp each rosemary, thyme, and sage in my "coffee" (spice) grinder.  Then, I massaged some olive oil onto my pork roast and a applied this spice mix along with a light grinding of salt and pepper.  Once complete, I placed the pork roast on top of this bed of veggies.

While I was prepping, my smoker was lit and coming up to a temperature of 350 F.  Once I was ready to start cooking my roast, I threw two chunks of apple into the ash pan for smoky flavor.  Once I had some thin blue smoke rolling, I placed the dutch oven in my smoker, lid off, too cooker 60 minutes.  Here is how the roast looked after an hour.  Perfect.  A little bit of brown on the roast and the vegetables were starting to caramelize.

Next, I added four cups of store bought Bloody Mary mix (that's one bottle) and two cups of dry white wine into my dutch oven for my braising liquid.  Then, I put the lid on top, lowered my smoker temperature to 325 F, and walked away for three hours.

When I returned three hours later to retrieve the dutch oven and bring inside, the smell emanating from the smoker was intoxicating to say the least.  I could not wait to get inside and slice this pork roast for dinner.  After resting with the lid on for 20 minutes, I removed the roast and started slicing.

There was a little bit of everything on this piece of pork.  The meat near the bone was pull apart tender and the bulk of the roast was sliceable.  Tender, juicy, and cuttable with a fork.  The wine, bloody mary mix, and spices came together to make a sauce packed with flavor.  The veggies on the bottom were thoroughly soaked in the flavor.  

The one minor issue with the Turkey Hill offering was they they served their pork shank on a bed of roasted root vegetables.  Good, but not great.  This sauce screams for something creamy, mashed potatoes or perhaps even grits.  I opted for grits.  So, I whipped up a batch of grits for my sauce.  I even sautéed some mustard greens for the side as well.  

I was more than satisfied with how this re-creation turned out at home.  I can't wait to make this dish again.

Thanks for stopping by,


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Naptown BarBAYq Contest and Music Festival - KCBS Competition

Last weekend the Three Dogs BBQ road show headed down to Annapolis, MD for our first competition of the year at the Naptown BarBAYq Contest and Festival.

The festival is held at the Anne Arundle County Fairgrounds and features the BBQ competition, food vendors, bands, and a judging class on Sunday.  In all 64 teams were competing for awards and bragging rights for the year.  The contest was also a opportunity for us to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.  Here are some pictures from the weekend.

The highlight of the weekend was being able to sign the banner honoring our late friend, Bill Allen, who passed away earlier this year at a BBQ competition.

If you are competing in the MABA region this year, look for this banner at the Smokin Foolz cook site and stop by to sign.  Smokin Foolz will present the banner to Kathi Allen, Bill's wife, at the end of the season.

As for our cook, we did not get off to the start that we wanted to this season, ending up 47th out of 64 teams.  Here were the pictures of our turn in boxes.

Our timing was off from the start, the skin pulled back on the legs, the ribs were slightly over done, the brisket was slightly under done.  Not a good weekend at all.  But, we'll learn from the weekend and move forward.  We can only go up from here.

Thanks to Doreen Vavrek (a Pittsburgh girl!) for putting together another great competition.  Congrats also go out to 3Eyz BBQ on their back to back Grand Championships at Naptown and to Chix, Swine & Bovine BBQ, our Reserve Grand Champion.

We hit the road next in two weeks at the Salt City BBQ Festival in Syracuse, NY.  If you are in the area, stop on by and say hi.

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Grilled Pizza The Right Way

Recently, we were fortunate enough to receive a few cookbooks to peruse and review.  One of the books that stood out was a cookbook on different ways to gill pizza:  Grilled Pizza The Right Way by John Delpha.  From John's biography, he is a former Army officer and helicopter pilot turned chef.  His first professional job as a chef was at Al Forno in Providence, RI where he learned the art of grilling pizza.  In addition, he is a member of iQue, a championship cooking team won the 2009 Jack Daniel's World Barbecue Championship and the associated the "I Know Jack About Grillin" two times.  I think he might know a little something about grilling pizza.

The book is broken down into nine sections, covering everything from the basics of dough and sauce,  classic style pizzas, seafood, veggie, dessert, and flatbreads.  There is even a section titled "The Masqueraders" where John recreates sandwiches in pizza form.  Two examples are the Thanksgiving Pizza and The Reuben Pizza.  In addition, there are some great recipes in the book for various sauces.  More on the sauces later.

I was instantly drawn to the Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, Pecorino, and Mozzarella Pizza.  At the same time, I made batch of the Basic Tomato Sauce to make some traditional pies for the less adventurous.  But, lets go to the beginning and start with the dough.

Now, I hate working with dough.  But, the recipe is simple.  Dissolve yeast in warm water with some sugar, let sit five minutes, add your dry ingredients, knead in a mixer with a dough hook, then bam, you have some dough.  I went outside the box and tried the recipe in our bread maker.  Dissolved the yeast and sugar in the warm water, added my dry ingredients, and pressed start.  I let the dough go through one knead and raise cycle, then I removed and let the dough sit in a bowl covered with a towel until I was ready to make pizzas.

Guess what?  It works and it works well.  I actually like this dough better than my go to recipe.  This dough made a nice, easy to handle, thin and crisp crust.

Next I made the Basic Tomato sauce.  When reading the recipe, it took me back to conversations that I have had with my Italian colleagues concerning the correct way to make sauce.  How is that?  Garlic, olive oil, salt, and peeled tomatoes.  Period.

Good stuff.  Add some basil and you have a quick sauce to put over some pasta as well.

For the Brussels sprout pizza, I followed the directions exactly:

Clean and thinly slice your spouts:

Saute in olive oil at high heat until the smaller pieces get crispy and the larger pieces start the caramelize, about three minutes.

After frying some bacon just past limp but not quite crisp, I assembled my pizza.  First you brush your stretched out dough with some olive oil, add your mozzarella, sprouts, and bacon, then top with the grated pecorino.

I slid my pie onto the grill and turned about half way through a total cook time of about four minutes.

How was it?  Better than I could have imagined.  The spouts caramelized even more.  The bacon added flavor that only bacon can add.  My friends were even more surprised at how good this pizza was.  I even had to make one to go for a late night snack.

Then, we broke into the more traditional pies with the tomato sauce and our other toppings.  This pizza was sauce, mozzarella, mushroom, onion, and bacon.

I cooked this pizza following the instructions above.

One of the better pizzas I have had in a while.  Usually our homemade sauce is filled with Italian herbs and spices.  But, this simple sauce does well on its own.  It reminded me of pizzas I have had while visiting Italy on business.  Simple, but full of flavor.

If you have ever wanted to try grilling pizza, but were not confident of your skills, this is the cookbook for you.  With the detailed methods, step by step pictures, and multitude of recipes, I am confident that even a beginner grill master could produce a pizza much better than any your could buy.      The recipes in this book sound so good, you could even make them in your oven in the dead of winter.  Stay tuned for more recipes from this cookbook as spring turns to summer.

Thanks for stopping by,