Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Worth County Smoke-Off 2012 BBQ Competition!

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.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Beef Jerky and a Burger Rub

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.

Hamburger Rub
3 tsp salt
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp mustard powder(optional)

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.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Father's Day BBQ

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.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Building a grill

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.

Friday, June 15, 2012

BBQ chicken

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.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dinosaur Birthday Cake!

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.
2. 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.
4.pour 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.
5. 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.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Grilled Veggies and Sausage!

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 zucchini
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.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012


The warmer weather has arrived and with it comes fresher produce at the store. Which makes everybody happy and kabobs are a smash hit at our house. I love fixing them because their so simple to put together and even easier to cook. The ingredients in our house is pork tenderloin, because it's really tender and loaded with flavor, bell peppers, usually red and green, and an onion. When it comes to assembly I just mix and match to what ever hits me and then season it up with my favorite BBQ seasoning. Then it's on the grill direct over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes each side. To serve we slide the meat off the skewers and eat buffet style. The great thing is their kid approved and there is rarely any left overs.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fiesta Beef & Black Bean Enchiladas

I love my Kraft Food & Family Magazine, in fact I keep every issue just in case I feel the need to look back though them and try something new. Which is exactly what I did here, this one comes from their Holiday 2010 edition and it's a great family recipe that we all loved.
Prep 20 minutes
total 50 minutes
Makes 6 servings

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. Velveeta pasteurized Prepared Cheese product, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, divided
1 1/4 cups Taco Bell Home Originals Thick 'N Chunky Salsa, divided
1 cup rinsed canned black beans
12 flour tortillas (6 inch)
1/2 cup Breakstone's or Knudsen Sour Cream
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Heat oven to 350ºF.
Brown meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in half of the Velveeta and 1/2 cup salsa; cook 5 min. or until Velveeta is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring frequently. Stir in beans.
Spoon 1/4 cup meat mixture down center of each tortilla; roll up. Place, seam-sides down, in 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake enchiladas, uncovered, 10 min. Top with remaining Velveeta and salsa. Bake 20 min. or until enchiladas are heated through and Velveeta is melted. Top with sour cream and cilantro


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Syrup

I have tried a few grilled veggies before, but mostly peppers, onions and green beans. But when I received a copy of Weber's Charcoal Grilling The Art of Cooking with Live Fire and saw this recipe for grilled asparagus, I figured I should give it a try. My wife and I have been wanting to try asparagus for some time and since BBQ does make everything better why not try cooking it on the grill? I'm glad we did, because it was delicious and the whole family loved it. The end result is a very delicious complex flavor of sweet and sour that really had my  tongue hungry for more.  I will be repeating this one and will likely be making a double batch since the little bundle of asparagus we bought was not enough for three people.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Grilling time: 4 to 6 minutes

1/2 cup inexpensive balsamic vinegar
2 pounds medium asparagus (40-50 spears), each about 1/2 inch thick at the stem end
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Prepare a two-zone fire for medium heat.
2. If you plan to do this next step on an indoor stove, turn on the fan in the stove's hod. The simmering vinegar creates a pungent aroma. In a small saucepan bring the vinegar to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat until a few bubbles are just  breaking through the surface. Cook at a slow simmer until about 1/4 cup of vinegar remains. As you get close to 1/4 cup, the vinegar will cling to the back of a spoon and it will coat the bottom of the sauce pan when you rock it back and fourth. The total cooking time will be roughly 10 minutes, but keep an eye on the vinegar. If it cooks to quickly or it reduces to much, it will turn bitter rather than sweet. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool to room temperature (the syrup will continue to thicken as it cools).
3. Remove and discard any tough, woody ends from the asparagus spears. Peel the ends of the asparagus, if desired. Lightly coat the asparagus with the oil. Season evenly with the salt and pepper. Brush the cooking grate clean. Lay the asparagus perpendicular to the bars on the cooking grate. Grill over direct medium heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until lightly charred and crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes, rolling the spears a couple times and swapping their positions as needed for even cooking.
4. Arrange the asparagus on a platter or individual plates. If the syrup is stiff, wam it briefly over medium heat. Drizzle some of the syrup over the spears (you may not need all of it). Season with more salt, if desired. Server warm or at room temperature.

Makes 6 servings

As seen in Weber's Charcoal Grilling The Art of Cooking with Live Fire


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Grilled Pizza

I have been bouncing around the idea in my head for a while and I finally got around to cooking a pizza on my Ugly Drum Smoker. My first attempt was not with out incident, I managed to burn my hand pretty good while trying to get a good fire going in the fire basket. I believe I will go ahead and do some more work to the basket so i don't do that again. Anyways back to the pizza, it was delicious! It had a wonderful touch of smoke and a very nice crispy crust, the three of us devoured this pizza. I do believe I will be buying a pizza stone specifically for the grill so I can get even more of that wood stove flavor. 

I did also learn that you will either want to let your wood chunks burn down or simply use plain lump  charcoal, the smoke coming from even one small piece of wood could be to much when baking breads this way.

Pizza dough

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal


Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed mixer bowl. Add salt, olive oil, and 2 1/2 cups flour. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 1 minute.

Continuing on Speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Knead on Speed 2 about 2 minutes longer.

Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down.

Brush 14-inch pizza pan with oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Press dough across bottom of pan, forming a collar around edge to hold toppings. Add toppings as desired. Bake at 450ºF for 15 to 20 minutes. 

As seen in the Kitchenaid Instructions and Recipes book.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012


We love Calzone's, well my wife and I do, my daughter wasn't so big on it. I think it was due to not being a big fan of crust, and Calzone's are pretty much all crust. We did have a blast making these and I am definitely going to be buying a pizza stone exclusively for my UDS, because I would love to have on of these wood fired. I followed the pizza dough recipe, but simply put all my toppings on one half of the pizza dough and folded it in half to make a calzone. Then baked for the same amount of time, I believe I will try doing either an egg wash next time to try and brown up the outside a little more, I like a nice crunch to the crust on my calzones.
Pizza dough
1 pachage active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed mixer bowl. Add salt, olive oil, and 2 1/2 cups flour. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 1 minute.

 Continuing on Speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Knead on Speed 2 about 2 minutes longer.

 Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down.

 Brush 14-inch pizza pan with oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Press dough across bottom of pan, forming a collar around edge to hold toppings. Add toppings as desired. Bake at 450ºF for 15 to 20 minutes. As seen in the Kitchenaid Instructions and Recipes book

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Double Smoked Ham

Every Christmas the fire department I work for buys us a holiday ham, which usually doesn't excite me much as I'm not a big ham person. Well when I was in the mood to do some cooking on the UDS I had this huge ham staring me in the face every time I opened the freezer. I decided I would cook the ham on the UDS and see how it turns out, I was not disappointed. I cooked the ham for about 5 hours at 350º, which the temp was perfect but it was a little long and the ham began to dry out and lose some of its cure. I had taking and wrapped it in foil for the last hour and put a nice thick cap of brown sugar on top of it. The end result was a very delicious ham and I'm pretty confident that I will be cooking the hams for most of the family get holiday parties.

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