Thursday, September 29, 2011

Spare Ribs...Competition Style

Let me toot my own horn for a second when I say I have gotten really good at cooking ribs.  However, I am constantly looking for a bit of a challenge.  I have read a lot about peoples experiences with competition ribs and what is involved with making ribs look as good as they taste.  One of the common practices amongst competition bbq'ers is trimming the ribs. This is done to make the ribs look perfectly rectangular when done.  When trimming spare ribs you end up with a nice hunk of meat trimmings that cook just as well as the ribs.  I decided to give trimming a shot with my most recent rib cook.



Prep:
After removing the membrane for the slabs, I cut off the sternum bone and rib tips leaving a nice rectangular slab of ribs.  I rubbed the ribs and tips with Conecuh pork rub MBH bought be and then cut the slabs in half.


Trimmed and ready for some rub.


Cooking:
I set the egg up for indirect cooking at 225º and used soaked apple wood chips for smoke.  I place the halved slabs on the lambda rack and employed the 3-1-1 cooking method as I have previously.  I employed the same method for the rib tips. After the ribs and tips were done cooking I let them rest for an hour and a half before cutting into more manageable groupings for serving.

I don't know why but it will only let me post the meat tower pic this way. (weak)

Served up.

Though it is not easy to see here, the ribs had a pretty decent smoke ring.
I might throw in a wood chunk next time to get an even more well-defined smoke ring.

I added a little Williamson Bros BBQ sauce and enjoyed some baked beans.


Notes:
Next attempt at competition ribs will require a bit more of a challenge.  One of the presentation techniques used is to ensure the entire slab of ribs is intact.  This means I will have to lose the safety net of the lambda rack and halved slabs for the full slab flipping method.  Look forward to a post on this in the near future.  In all, the ribs were very good.  The tips were excellent as well and some favored them over the ribs.  Maybe one day I will be good enough to enter a BBQ competition...one day.

Monday, September 26, 2011

BBQ Chicken Pizza

It has been a while since I have flexed my pizza muscles on the egg and MBH and I were craving it recently.  She found a recipe for a BBQ and blue cheese pizza and set off to collect the ingredients.  We decided to use the publix brand dough to save some time and the remainder of the rotisserie chicken we used for the tostadas.  I already had plenty of Williamson Bros BBQ sauce and most of the other ingredients so I began prepping the pie.



Prep:
I set the large dough ball out to rest and rise for about an hour. I sliced the dough into two pieces before placing the dough back in the fridge for another 30 minutes.  Finally, after another 30 minute rise at room temperature, I stretched the dough to form my pizzas.

I try to get them as thin as possible.
I am going to try rolling them next time.


The toppings.
On one pie I spread the barbecue sauce, chicken, sliced red onion, sliced red pepper, blue cheese crumbles, queso fresco, and sliced tomatoes.


One the second 'za I added everything as I did before with the exception of replacing the queso fresco with sharp cheddar cheese.

The second pie ready for action.
 Cooking:
Before lighting the grill I did a bit of cleaning of the egg to make sure I got proper airflow for the high temp cook.

I preheated the egg to 500º and cooked the pizzas with the same setup I have used previously.  I cooked each pizza for approximately 10 minutes on parchment paper and 1 minute directly on the pizza stone to crisp the crust.

Notes:
These were two of the best pies I have made yet.  The crust was perfectly crisp and the fresh ingredients made the pizzas very good.  I am not a huge fan of tomatoes but they worked perfectly with this combination.  I am going to try to make thinner crusts in the future.



Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chicken Tostadas

This is one of those cooks I debated posting on here but since I have so far documented everything I have cooked on the egg it must be shared.  MBH found a nice little chicken tostada recipe in one of the million Cooking Lite magazines floating around our house (it makes us feel better if we are looking at Cooking Lite while eating cheeseburgers and pizza).  The reason I debated posting this is because the recipe called for rotisserie chicken and I bought one instead of cooking one.  So though not all of this meal was egged I did as much as I could while the grill was hot.




Prep:
MBH carved up the rotisserie chicken and prepped the avocado dressing.  I soaked some de-husked corn in water for about thirty minutes while the grill was heating up.  I covered the corn with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.




Cooking:
I had the egg setup for direct cooking at 400º and threw on the corn, some halved onions, yellow bell peppers, and halved jalapenos.  I let them cook until they each had a chance to absorb the smoke flavor and get a nice little char.  I pulled them off and de-cobbed the corn. I diced the onions, bell pepper, and jalapeno for the tostadas and set them aside.


Everyone is on and warming up.

Getting close!

De-cobbed corn.
(I may need to add this to my salsa in the future. It smelled and tasted fantastic)
After I had all the toppings ready, I brushed some olive oil on flour tortillas and threw them on the egg for about 2 minutes per side.  If you haven't figured it out yet, our tostadas were essentially everything I listed above, queso fresco, tomatoes, and some lettuce piled on to one of these bad boys.


Notes:
These were good but not great.  Something was missing.  Obviously the healthy element comes from grilling the flour tortillas instead of using fried corn tortillas.  The flavors were all fresh and smokey but I like my Mexican foods with a little kick.  Next time I would add some jalapeno seeds to heat up the tostadas a bit.


Here is the spread of toppings.

The finished product.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Good 'ole Fashioned Bugers

I regretfully missed the first week of college football due to going off the grid and camping out for the Atlanta Nascar race a couple weekends ago.  Therefore this past Saturday weekend was my opportunity to catch up on all things football.  I forewarned MBH that I would most likely be in front of some form of tv taking in as much football as I could possibly handle.  I would like to believe that I accomplished my goal as I don't think I missed a single televised game.  Saturday night I decided to do a bit of grilling to celebrate the day's games and prep for the 7pm Tech game.  I have been craving a good ole fashioned burger and quickly convinced MBH that she wanted them too.



Prep:
I mixed some store-bought 80/20 grass fed ground beef (still waiting to get my meat grinder so that I can grind my own burgers) with chopped onions, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper in a large bowl and formed 5 burgers.  I covered them liberally in Weber's New Orleans Cajun rub and set them aside.  I also soaked some corn in the husk for about thirty minutes while the girls fried up some bacon, sauteed some onions, and made mac and cheese.



Make sure to indent the center of the burgers
to keep them from shrinking inward.
 
I usually soak the corn for 30 minutes
or however long it takes the egg to get to temp.

A little olive oil and Tony's Chachere's on the corn
and everyone is ready for the grill.


Cooking:
I preheated the BGE to 400 and placed the corn directly on the grate first for about 5 minutes before putting the burgers on.  I kept and eye on the burgers flipping once after about 8 minutes and again after another 8 minutes before applying cheese.  I put some chipotle Gouda on my burger and some American on one for a friend that was dining with us.

During the cook it must be noted that I missed absolutely no football due to my new outdoor tv setup.  I built a small table to match the BGE table for a tv to sit on and use a cheap tube tv with a grill cover to protect it from the elements. Conveniently, the table just happens to be the right size for the small egg I hope to get in the future (shhh don't tell MBH).


My new outdoor tv setup in all its glory.

Everybody get on the grill while I sit here and watch some football.

Toasted some buns and we were ready to serve.

Notes:
Interestingly enough, MBH, myself, and our guest had partaken in a little bit of drinking before this meal and in turn we ended up with a feast.  The old fashioned burgers hit the spot.  I added some sauteed onions and bacon to mine along with a little mayo and ketchup.  Along with the burgers and corn we had a wedge salad with blue cheese crumbles, dressing, and bacon along with some mac and cheese MBH was craving.  No man woman or child was left hungry and we enjoyed watching GT roll on to an easy victory over MTSU.

What a feast!
(That is my burger under the pile of onions.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Alder Planked Salmon Fillets

I recently drafted one of my fantasy football leagues and a buddy and I decided we should be in the same room to do it so that we could srategerize (it turned out we were just in the same room to make fun of each others picks more quickly than we would have over the interwebs).  For the festivities I offered to throw something on the egg for a pre-draft meal.  We invited his fiance too so that Megan would have something to do during the draft (gab about wedding stuff while we were trying to focus). I grabbed two salmon fillets from BHFM for the occasion with plans to plank cook them.

Prep:
I began soaking an alder plank in water for an hour.  I trimmed all of the skin and dark fatty meat from the fillets (the dark fatty meat has a strong fishy smell that can overtake the flavor of the fish).


Great color on these filets.
I seasoned the fishies with DP Ragin River Rub and set them aside until the grill was ready.


Seasoned and ready for the grill.

Cooking:
I set the BGE up for direct cooking at 400º and placed the soaked alder plank on to preheat for about 5 minutes.

That BGE logo probably doubled the cost of this particular plank. 
After 5 minutes of preheating, I flipped the plank and brushed on some EVOO.  I placed the salmon on the plank and closed the lid letting them cook for about 15 minutes.

Gettin happy.
After 15 minutes of cooking I sprayed the fish with a butter spray and then brushed on some Italian dressing.  I closed the lid for one more minute before pulling out the plank.

This picture does not do these fish justice. 
They looked amazing when I pulled them off.
Notes:
I definitely made the right move trimming the fish the way I did.  I had never used Alder wood for cooking and was pleasantly surprised at the flavor it imparted on the fish.  The cooking time was perfect and the fish just melted in my mouth.  I love some good salmon.


A few bites in.
Plated with salad, potato salad, pasta salad, and garlic green beans.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Crab Cakes

No, I am not dead and I have not been neglecting this blog.  In fact, after some travel and a busy schedule it had been about 3 weeks since I fired the egg up.  So, coming back to it, I decided I needed to do something a little different and very interesting.  On a recent trip to visit some family on the gulf coast we acquired some lump crab claw meat for a very good price.  We kept it frozen and brought about 4lbs back to ATL.  I decided that the first pound must be dedicated to crab cakes.



Prep:
MBH prepped the cakes by mixing the crab meat with some diced red peppers, mayo, and chives.  We scooped them using a large spoon and formed the cakes.  One pound of crab created 10 cakes which we then sprinkled bread crumbs on before placing in the fridge.


The star of the show.


The cakes getting mixed.
The cakes ready to go on.

Cooking:
I preheated the egg and cast iron skillet to 400º and put two tablespoons of olive oil in for each round of cakes.  I let them cook for four minutes per side before pulling them off.



The first batch on.  A couple fell apart.
 
All of the cakes ready to eat.
 
I also threw on a couple of lettuce wedges to get some smoke on our salad.




Notes:
The cakes and salad were excellent.  I had a problem with a few cakes falling apart.  The remedy for this would be to let the cakes sit in the fridge to set for a while.  I will do these again and will let them sit in the fridge for a while longer to avoid any falling apart.  Other than that I would change nothing.


Plated with an MBH created yogurt based crab cake sauce and
an MBH made green goddess dressing on the wedge.


Bonus picture from last night's Tech game 63-21 baby!: