This past August I finally had the opportunity to do something I had been dreaming about for a very long time, compete in a BBQ competition with my very own team. My BBQ team name is "Gettin' Saucy With It" and consisted of my Dad, who was an assistant cook myself as Chief Cook. We competed in the Worth County Smoke Off BBQ competition on August 3-4.
Here's my pride and joys that I have built myself. I do plan on making a few changes to the black one, it doesn't hold the temps like the red one and the bottom grate is to close to the fire basket.
It was not long after I put the chicken thighs on the cooker that a pretty nasty thunderstorm rolled through. It took out almost every shade canopy at our end of the field and left the other end unscathed, lucky for them I guess.
See those two drum smokers setting there? Well I found out later that guy who built them and was competing was the same guy whose YouTube video played a part in me deciding to build my UDS in the first place. I learned a lot from him at this competition, he did win Grand Champion so he knows what he's doing. I look forward to see him at future BBQ Competitions.
Here's the aftermath of the storm when we dug in and tried to salvage what we could of the meat in hopes of having something to turn in to the judges. Here's the chicken which was probably the best chicken I have ever cooked, but more on that later.
My ribs were good, but they weren't quite done and just a little to chewy to have done well. I placed 11th out of 12 teams.
Here's the pulled pork which was not as good as I would of liked but the judges still scored me pretty well, I placed 4th.
And last, well not that bad, I took 10th place in this category. Going in to this competition I spent hours coming up a cooking plan, but in a last minute decision I changed my plan and put both the brisket and pork butts on 4 hours later then planned. Now had the storm not rolled through I may have been able to come up with a better product, but I don't know that for sure. I plan on practicing these two categories some more to have a better handle on my cooking times for the next competition.
Well here it is, the wild dream fulfilled. I took first place in chicken!!! I was completely shocked to hear my BBQ team name called, much less the fact that it was for first place! I was even more shocked when I found out later that I placed 7th overall, not bad for my first competition, and had beat out the Grand Champion in this one category. I can't even begin to explain how excited and proud I was of my team.
I have to give a HUGE thank you to my Dad, who with out I would not have been able to even afford to go to this BBQ competition. I also have a HUGE thank you out to my Wife, Jennie, and My daughter, Sammie, who helped support me in doing this, put up with the hours of planning, the practice cooks, and me being gone for almost three days straight while at the competition. I also want thank the Lady's Auxiliary of the Worth County Fire Department for hosting the BBQ competition.
I have been wanting to try and make jerky for a long time, and I finally gave it a shot; well two shots anyway. My first attempt was on my Ugly Drum Smoker, it was a failure. It cooked the meat instead of drying it out and left me with a dried out flavorless strips, as you can see. The second go was a success! I did it in my big ugly grill I built this year. I used one of the charcoal baskets from a weber to help hold the charcoal, it have me the best way to keep the temp under 200 degrees F and around 150 degrees at the grate. I seasoned them with a rub that I LOVE on hamburgers. Making jerky is so easy I hope you give it a try.
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix with fingers. Makes about 1/3 of a cup.
Some cure their jerky or marinade it to help prepare it for dehydrating. I started with a bottom round roast and trimmed it of all the fat. I then sliced with the grain at 1/4 inch thick. Once I had sliced the whole roast, I applied all of the Hamburger Run and tossed the meat to make sure it was well coated. I then went outside and started one small basket of charcoal, it's about 20 briquettes and tossed on one chunk of hickory to add some smokiness to the jerky. Now it was time for the hard part. Keeping the temp below 200 degrees for 4-6 hours and watching the delicious jerky take shape. The jerky is was done at 6 hours and was a deep burgundy color and firm to the touch.
Finally setting down to type about how I spent my Father's day, the day where Dad get's to be lazy. If he wants to spend the morning in an easy chair with a cup of coffee and his paper it's his right! Well I'm not that type of Dad and my dream day was spent playing outside with my daughter while my Drum Smoker helped me cook up some great BBQ. I fixed ribs and chicken, as they only take the afternoon to cook and I wanted the practice for an upcoming competition my Dad and I have entered, but more on that later.
That's my barbecuing hat! My wife hates it and calls it my really goofy looking hat, which my daughter loves the hat and is usually trying to steal it off my head so she can wear it.
The ribs were a delicious and had amazing flavor, so that recipe is set for competition. I just need to work on my timing to get the right tenderness for competitions, which these were very close in that regards.
The chicken thighs were great, but I may change up how I marinade them for competitions. I did however have great flavor on them and I nailed the bite through skins, which I was really happy about.
I had a great day cooking for a family BBQ and every one that showed up had plenty of positive feedback and left with bellies full of good food. I can't think of a better way to spend Father's Day.
Earlier this month I got motivated to build a huge grill out of a steel drum. To be honest it was just an excuse to use my welder building something instead of practicing on scraps. I had a blast building it and learned all kinds of things. Like the way I split the drum and framed it out with angle iron leaves gaps all the way around the grill, not good for temperature control. It cooks great as an open grill, but not so great for keeping lower temps. I am looking for another barrel to cut the door out of the side and re use all the metal from this one. In the mean time I will make to burn barrels from the two halves, one for the backyard and one for my dad to use with his camper.
It's time for more tasty photo's of what I've been cooking outside on the BBQ pit and today I've got some BBQ chicken. I fixed these up with some of my own homemade BBQ rub and BBQ sauce, both of which were a smash hit. I am thinking of keeping both a secret so that it can possibly become a hand me down family recipe some day. I started making my own rubs and sauces last year, but have really taking to trying some new things and dialing them in for what I like. It all really started though with it being so much work to find out if the stuff I'm feeding my daughter is peanut free and safe for her. Since I started making my own sauces for her to enjoy I always have her be the first to try them and tell me what she thinks, there have been a two shes turned her nose up to. If you haven't tried making your own rubs and sauces, I highly recommend it. It's a lot of fun to make, you can make it to fit your taste buds, and when someone asks what you use you can tell them it's a secret family recipe. Which always seems to make everything taste better.
We celebrated our little girls 3rd birthday this past April, yes I realize that it's been almost two months since then, but my procrastination has been in high gear.....or is it low gear? Anyways about the cake. For her birthday party she wanted a dinosaur party complete with a dinosaur cake. Well the cake came out great, but the icing.......well I obviously am clueless when it comes to that. The great part was that Sammie jumped up and wanted to decorate her cake, which after I failed miserably I figured what the the heck! Well here it is, the dinosaur cake decorated by the birthday girl herself. I think she did a fantastic job and she had a blast doing it, which completely overshadows my lack of frosting skill.
Chocolate Cake (with beets)
Recipe from Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
/4 cup canola or vegetable oil, or trans fat-free soft tub margarine spread
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 cup beet puree (I used canned beets and pureed in a food processor)
1/2 cup low-fat (1%) butter milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablesp0on pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the brown
sugar with the oil or margarine until creamy. Add the whole egg and egg
whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the
melted chocolate, beet puree, buttermilk, and vanilla.
3. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and beat until smooth.
the batter into the pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean when
inserted into the center, 35 to 40 minutes. Let the cake cool 5 minutes
in the pan before turning it out onto a rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the frosting. Beat the cream cheese with the
confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla until smooth. Slice the
cake in half horizontally. Spread the frosting over the top and between
the layers of the cooled cake.
6. Refrigerate in in airtight container for up to 4 days.
Makes one cake.
Summer is here and I thought I would share some of our grill favorites. This one comes directly from the fire house, but I have lightened it up a bit to make it a little easier on the waist line for those who care how they look in a swim suite. The recipe will fill up a 9"x12" pie pan and three of us finished it off with no left overs, it was that good. I have found this is a great way to get my three year old to eat veggies, she absolutely tore up the squash, onions, and peppers.
2 yellow squash
2 medium onions, what ever kind you like
2 bell peppers, I use red and green because I like their flavor a little better
1 Smoked Turkey Kielbasa
1/4 cup of butter
Favorite seasoning, I used my BBQ rub but you could use some creole seasoning or even seasoned salt, be creative its a great way to mix up the flavor.
Preheat grill to around 400º-450º F. Slice all veggies and the sausage, make sure the slices are sort of thick , about 1/4". Place in a 9"x12" foil pan, slice up a 1/4 cup butter and lay over the top of the veggies, season with your favorite seasoning and place on the grill to cook. Cook tell all veggies are tender, don't be afraid to give them a stir and reason if you like. Cook time should be around 25-30 minutes depending on how thick the veggies were sliced.