Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Prime Rib

Merry Christmas - well... Happy New Year... or whatever holiday is nearest when you are reading this!  Christmas 2011 marked my first attempt at Prime Rib.  I've been wanting to try to cook a prime rib, but have been a little hesitant due to the cost... It's hard to experiment on a $100 piece of meat!  

First a little info on Prime Rib - or Standing Rib Roast.  This is a cut of beef from the primal rib.  It can include from 2 to 7 ribs.  The cut can be found both with the bones attached and with the bones removed.  Regardless of the status of the bones this cut will often be tied with twine to help hold the different muscles together during the cooking process.  Some will remove the bones and then reattach them with twine for cooking.  Prime rib sliced into steaks is also known as rib-eye steaks.  

I found a 5.25 lb boneless prime rib to try out my first cook.  It was choice grade meat and cost  about $60.  I then rubbed it with olive oil and then with cracked black pepper, cracked sea salt, and rosemary. I refrigerated it overnight wrapped in plastic wrap.  

I did a two stage cook on the prime rib.  I started cooking at 180 degrees in my FEC100 smoker for about 90 minutes then increased the temp to 225 degrees.  When the internal temp hit 135 I took the meat off and tented it with foil to rest for about 30 minutes.  During that 30 minutes I fired up the PG1000 to 500 degrees.  After the thirty minute rest I placed the roast on the indirect side of the PG1000 for about 8 minutes.  This crisped up the outside and gave a nice crust.  Since I didn't cook it directly over the flame it didn't char, but rather got a nice seared crust.   

So you may ask, "Why didn't you do the whole cook on the PG1000?"  I could have and usually would, however I needed to use the 2 stage cooking feature (cook and hold) of the FEC100 as I was not going to be immediately available to adjust the cooker temp.  

Overall the prime rib turned out really good.  It was more medium than medium rare, this pleased my wife who likes her meat well done (ruined) but my goal was a nice medium rare.  So... mistake made here was 1) removing from the first stage of the cook too late and 2)underestimating the "carryover" while the roast was resting (the effect of continued cooking and raising of internal temp during the rest).  Next time I would pull it to rest at a lower internal temp and hope to hit that medium-rare point.  Regardless, the meat was still juicy, flavorful, and tender. 

Rubbed and to the fridge overnight

Sear phase at 500 degrees on the PG1000

Sliced and ready to serve


Friday, December 9, 2011

Nordy's Video Debut - ABTs on the PG1000

Yes this is a repost from Feb 2011, but I wanted to add the video I recently did for Cookshack, cooking ABTs on the PG1000.  You can check out other great videos on the Cookshack Smokers YouTube Channel.

ABT = Atomic Buffalo Turd
Sounds yummy doesn't it...  Name aside these stuffed jalapeños taste nothing like a turd. Halved jalapeños filled with  a mixture of cream cheese, shredded colby-jack cheese, and hot sausage, then wrapped with some peppered bacon.  That cocoon of goodness is then smoked at low temp for about an hour, then the temp is increased to crisp the bacon, on the pellet grill.

ABTs - Post prep - Ready for the grill

ABTs on the indirect portion of the grill.  They are sitting on a 
frogmat.  Frogmats are completely non-stick mesh which prevents
delicate foods from falling through, or sticking to the grates. 

The finished product - Jalapeños plate nicely on a bread plate
The ABTs were spicy but mostly from the peppered bacon.  There is a little heat in the jalapeño but the longer you cook, the less heat they have.  Highly recommend these the next time you need some finger foods/appetizers.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

KCBS CBJ Class & Fast Eddy Competition Cooking Class

I took the weekend off from cooking this past weekend... sort of... 

Every year Cookshack offers a competition cooking class taught by BBQ legend Fast Eddy Maurin and David Bouska of ButcherBBQ who just happens to be the current third place team in team of the year points in the KCBS.  In addition to this class they have a KCBS Certified Barbeque Judge class as well.  

For those who don't know, BBQ competitions sanctioned by the KCBS are encouraged so seek out as many Certified Barbeque Judges (CBJs) as possible when they plan an event.  The approximately 4 hour class teaches people to be able to fairly judge BBQ to the KCBS standards.   Most competitions will have some non-certified judges, however most have a goal of having 100% CBJs.  

Our class was taught by Merle Whitebook, Master Judge from the KCBS.  He did a great job educating us on the KCBS BBQ standards, how to judge, and most importantly how not to punish cooks for things out of their control!  I thought I understood what the rules and standards were, however Merle offered tons of examples and anecdotes which made many of the "rules" more tangible and real.  

The class consisted of a lecture and Q&A time followed by judging a simulated full contest, complete with lots of good food in all 4 categories of Chicken, Pork Ribs, Pork Shoulder, and Brisket.  After each category we discussed the various scores and "scenarios" which were staged such as a box which only had 5 instead of the required 6 portions of food, or illegal garnish etc. 

Overall, great class.  I would recommend anyone interested in BBQ to seek out a KCBS class and become a CBJ and get out and judge some contests!

Stuart and Red prepping some boxes to be judged 
Photo Credit: Frank Diaz - of Tin Hut BBQ

Merle teaching future CBJs
Photo Credit: Frank Diaz of Tin Hut BBQ

One of the 3 pork Boxes during our judging training.
Photo Credit: Frank Diaz of Tin Hut BBQ

The second day of the class is when things got real serious.  This was an 8AM-5PM of competition BBQ teaching.  Fast Eddy and David Bouska did a fantastic job of covering planning, purchasing, trimming, cooking, and winning!  Fast Eddy has been around the BBQ world for years and complements teaching his great knowledge of BBQ with some of the many uh... "stories" from his many years on the BBQ circuit.  David Bouska's team, ButcherBBQ is currently 3rd in the KCBS Team of the Year standings and his anal retentive... uh... I mean attention to detail, leaves no question as to how he attained that ranking.  Both Fast Eddy and David provide not only their recipes for championship BBQ, but teach you HOW to cook them in the intense world of BBQ competition.  We did a little hands on cooking ourselves, cooking chicken and ribs all on the Fast Eddy line of smokers by Cookshack.  Needless to say... the samples of each BBQ category provided by Eddy and David were quite possibly the best part of the weekend.  

I would highly recommend this yearly December class to anyone interested in competing in BBQ, currently competing in BBQ, or even those just interested in beefing up their backyard skills.  Check the Cookshack website for announcements of next years class. 

David prepping ribs while Fast Eddy watches.

(Sorry I was too busy scribbling notes and eating BBQ to take many pictures of the Competition Class!)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey

It's that time of the year again!  Turkey time!  Thanksgiving comes around every year and stimulates everyone's interest in smoking turkey.  Here is my cook for 2011.

I cooked 3 turkeys varying from 12.5-14lbs.  I cooked these on my new pit a FEC100.  They were first brined for about 48 hours using Smokin's Holiday Brine. Then were rubbed with butter and Cookshack Spicy Chicken Rub. One was rubbed with ButcherBBQ Honey Rub.  They were then cooked in the FEC100 for about 4 hours, until the temp in the breast was about 165 and the thighs were about 180. 

Turned out great!

 A fantastic source for information and recipes is the Cookshack Turkey Forum.  Here you will find yearly reports and recipes from some great cooks. 

The FEC100 getting fired up for the cook
Birds in the smoker
Wrapped in cheesecloth drenched in butter
Bird #1 - This one is headed to my sisters house
 Birds 2 and 3... these are 1)Thanksgiving dinner and 2)Leftovers
The pick for carving
Ready to eat!
Jenna loving a "leftover" turkey leg

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Experimenting With Ribs

After attending the American Royal, I had all kinds of new ideas for flavor profiles.  So what better way to test them out then to make a bunch of ribs in different styles and feed them to my buddies to judge which is best.  So I made a rack of spares and a rack of baby backs for each recipe for evaluation.  6 racks in all.  Two were made purposely "toned down" for my kids to eat for dinner and the other 4 racks were full on high intensity competition flavor etc.

Below you can see 6 racks of ribs cooking on a rib rack on my PG1000.  All of the racks turned out pretty good, but there was a clear winner which will become the baseline comparison for future "enhancements."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

American Royal 2011

I had never been to a BBQ competition... so why not make my first experience the BIGGEST of all BBQ competitions?  American Royal 2011 - Kansas City, MO.

475 teams assembled around Kemper Arena in Kansas City the first weekend in October for one thing... BBQ... Well not everyone was there for BBQ, some were there for the crazy parties on Friday night, or just there hanging with friends, or even there to try to sneak a few secrets, photos, and if lucky a bite of some good BBQ.  First off, I have to thank the team from Cookshack, Stuart and Jessica Powell (a father-daughter tram) from Ponca City, OK for allowing me to tag along and cook with them all weekend.  I'd also like to give a big thanks to Fast Eddy and Kathy Maurin for letting me invade their cook site as well over the course of the weekend.  

The "weekend" for many began as early as Wednesday as people began to load into the parking lots at various cook sites. I arrived Friday and met up with Stuart and Fast Eddy.  Friday at the Royal is known for two things.  Parties and the beginning of the Invitational part of the cook-off.    The invitational competition is only for those teams who have qualified by being crowned Grand Champion at one of the qualifying "State Championship"  competitions throughout the year.  This year 141 of the best teams in the nation competed in this portion of the competition.  But more people participated in "the biggest party in KC" which is the Friday night of the Royal.  Thousands of people converge at various private and public parties around the Royal site. There were multiple live bands playing around the area, as well as DJs and other forms of entertainment, such as  a mechanical bull and a hot tub with scantily clad women (anyone have a picture of that?!?).  People watching on Friday night is a great form of entertainment... I wish I had taken more pictures/video... 

Saturday is when the BBQ fun starts for most people.  475 teams spend the day prepping meats which will go in the pit later Saturday night or early Sunday morning.  We spent much of the afternoon Saturday prepping meats and talking with the visiting "Tours of the Royal" who were stopping by throughout the day.  Stuart and Eddy do a great job of sharing part of the Cookshack story and discussing the Fast Eddy line of Cookshack smokers.  We also prepared chicken and some steaks for each of these tours to sample as they came by. I enjoyed cooking the chicken, but also enjoyed listening to Stuart and BBQ legend Fast Eddy discuss  the history of the Royal and Cookshack.  Here's a video of Stuart and Fast Eddy doing one of the tours.

Late Saturday the briskets and pork butts go on the FEC100 smoker for Sunday's competition. The Saturday night festivities are much more subdued as the teams are starting their cooks for the competition.  Due to the ease of cooking on the FEC100 we then all hit the hay for a few hours.  

Sunday AM, let the games begin!!! Brisket and Pork finish up and are put in the hot box to hold.  Ribs and Chicken are prepped and cooked.  Turn ins start at noon and every 30 min a different meat is turned in, first chicken, then ribs, then pork, and finally brisket.  Then it's in the hands... or mouths... of the judges.  

A couple of hours later everyone gathers for the awards ceremony before heading home.

We didn't do that well in the opinion of the judges... but we cooked some great food and had a great time all weekend.  
Friday night at the Royal
Parties on the "DarkSide"

Cookshack Cook site
Fast Eddy's Cook site - (If you look closely there is a new prototype pellet grill in this picture)
Fast Eddy and Stuart presenting for a "Tour of the Royal"
Saturday Night FEC100 Getting ready for brisket and butts
Brisket and butts on the pit 
Stuart prepping ribs - (Dude on the left is a restaurateur from England)
Stuart continues to work... While Jessica watches...
Stuart and British guy working on parsley garnish for turn-in boxes
Stuart inspecting the work 
Jessica prepping chicken thighs
Thighs cooking on the PG1000 - Fast Eddy Pellet Grill 
Brisket turn-in box
Jessica turning in brisket.  Behind that curtain are the 500 BBQ judges 
Fast Eddy after winning Reserve Grand Champion (2nd place) in the Legends Division (those who have cooked more than 20 years at the Royal) Congrats Eddy!
Pelletheads.com team and a few other "Pelletheads"
Pellethead = BBQ Cook who cooks on pits fired by wood pellets
Credit to Pelletheads.com moderator Bentley for this picture!