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12 days of BBQ Christmas

On the first day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
A smoker and some hickory

*

On the second day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Two tubs of rub,
& A smoker with some hickory.

*

On the third day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Three bags of Charcoal
Two tubs of rub,
& A smoker with some hickory..

*

On the fourth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Four cases of foil,
Three bags of Charcoal,
Two tubs of rub,
& A smoker with some hickory..

*

On the fifth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Five bottles of Jack,
Four cases of foil,
Three bags of Charcoal,
Two tubs of rub,
& A smoker with some hickory.

*

On the sixth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Six butterflied chickens,
Five bottles of Jack,
Four cases of foil,
Three bags of Charcoal,
Two tubs of rub,
& A smoker with some hickory..

*

On the seventh day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Seven chili peppers
Six butterflied chickens
Five bottles of Jack,
Four cases of foil,
Three French hens,
Two tubs of rub,
& A smoker with some hickory..

*

On the eighth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Eight first place trophies,
Seven chili peppers,
Six butterflied chickens,
Five bottles of Jack,
Four cases of foil,
Three bags of Charcoal,
Two tubs of rub,
& A smoker with some hickory..

*

On the ninth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Nine probe thermometers,
Eight first place trophies,
Seven chili peppers,
Six butterflied chickens,
Five bottles of Jack,
Four cases of foil,
Three bags of Charcoal,
Two tubs of rub,
& A smoker with some hickory..

*

On the tenth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Ten perfect scorings
Nine probe thermometers,
Eight first place trophies,
Seven chili peppers,
Six butterflied chickens,
Five bottles of Jack,
Four cases of foil,
Three bags of Charcoal,
Two tubs of rub,
& A smoker with some hickory..

*

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Eleven racks of ribs
Ten perfect scorings,
Nine probe thermometers,
Eight first place trophies,
Seven chili peppers,
Six butterflied chickens,
Five bottles of Jack,
Four cases of foil,
Three bags of Charcoal,
Two tubs of rub,
& A smoker with some hickory..

*

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Twelve , Grand Championships!!
Eleven racks of ribs ,
Ten perfect scorings,
Nine probe thermometers,
Eight first place trophies,
Seven chili peppers,
Six butterflied chickens,
Five bottles of Jack,
Four cases of foil,
Three bags of Charcoal,
Two tubs of rub,
& A smoker with some hickory!


 


Looking for something homemade for Christmas? How about giving some bbq rubs…. Some of the best gifts are not store bought but thoughtful homemade presents …

Mason jars with tight fitting lids make a great place to start. Available everywhere and in many sizes …..

Simply assemble some of your favorite recipes for rubs with fresh spices….

Add a nice recipe card…lots of templates available online..

Rub Recipes:
Diva Q Cajun Rub
Diva Q Basic Beef Rub
Diva Q Basic Chicken Rub
Kansas City Rib Rub
Memphis Style Rib Rub
Carolina BBQ Rub
Brisket Rub

Top the jars with some cute flame ribbon

Happy Gifting !!


 


These are a few of my new favorite things from this past year!

Colins Creek Barbecue Savory Pecan Rub

I love this rub. Its really an exciting blend of spices that pairs well with so many meats and seafood. Chris Jones Pitmaster from Colins Creek gave me a bottle to sample earlier in the year and I liked it so much I got a case of it. (love the rib rub too!)

Plowboys has long been a favorite rub company of mine. This year they came out with Fin and Feather. Delicious on lots of items from seafood to chicken.

Also a Jerk rub thats awesome !

You can get these items at Great Lakes BBQ Supply Company~! I have shopped with them many times and their customer service is top notch!

Jamaica Pimento Charcoal

I picked up a case of Jamaica Pimento Wood Charcoal to play with earlier this year from Ontario Gas Barbecue
For the first time in the Canada, PIMENTO WOOD CHARCOAL!
While I will always use Basques all Natural Hardwood Charcoal for day to day use it is fun to play with unusual charcoals to add a different flavor layer to your food!

Made from the wood of the Jamaican Allspice tree, this lump charcoal is all natural.
No fillers or chemical binders! Lump charcoal burns cleanly with no chemical after taste.

These 9 lb. boxes are a 50/50 blend of Pimento Wood and Log Wood. Why the blend? Production of Pimento Wood Charcoal is minimal. A scarce resource! Most street vendors in Jamaica use this combination of charcoals to give that unique taste to their dishes. If you crave original Jamaican Jerk, Pimento Wood & Log Wood completes the authentic island flavour.

The Charcoal Room at Ontario Gas BBQ is so much fun. They are always trying to bring new and interesting charcoal.

Strube briskets are delicious. Kobe-Style Wagu Beef. Strube Ranch is a family owned and operated business with 100 years experience raising beef. I had a lot of fun playing with these briskets this year. Available from Big Poppas Smokers.

Onyx Oven from the BBQ Guru

My competition equipment lineup changed a bit this year. An Onyx Oven was added thanks to the folks at BBQ guru. I have had so many enjoyable BBQ experiences with it. The very first time in competition it scored a 180 (perfect KCBS) in brisket. Love using it. Love the fact that paired with the Digi Q it can run on very little charcoal for hours. It helps make great meat!!

Custom heavy duty fabricated rib racks for my Traeger. I got them as a gift for Christmas last year and used them throughout the year. They are so much better than any other rib rack I have owned. A lot easier to clean as well. Available at my favorite Brantford Butcher Strodes by fabricator Mark Offenhammer. These are a wise BBQ investment.

 

Global Chef Tweezers

These tweezers were given to me by my Sister in Smoke Angie Quaale from Well Seasoned. They were awesome for box adjustments while competing.

Cast Iron Pig Soap Dish – Business Card holder.

Shelly from Desperado’s BBQ told me about this awesome business card holder from the Mast general Store in South Carolina. By the end of the day every BBQ’er around had snapped them up in a flash. Perfect for any BBQ lover.

Paella Pan

Love using this on my charcoal grills. So much fun.

Southern Style All Natural Unbleached White Grits from Old Mill of Guilford NC.

Grits and BBQ go together like PB&J. Love these for their texture and flavor!!  I always thought I hated grits until a few years back I had real grits instead of instant. I have been hooked ever since.

I love Pork. So why not use a Pork that’s chock full of Omega 3 & raised without antibiotics .  Willowgrove Hill has terrific pork and pork products.

Char-Broil America Grills. I received this cookbook from Chef Barry Martin earlier this year at the NBBQA convention in South Carolina. I adore this guy.

His enthusiasm for all things grilling and BBQ is wonderful to behold. This book is full of mouthwatering recipes and pictures you want to eat they look so good.

Little sugar piggie sprinkles/quins  for sweet stuff. Why ? They are pigs. They are cute and they are adorable. Plus add them to some pig candy bacon cupcakes and it rocks. Mine came in a three pack with chickens and cows too!

Firefly sweet tea bourbon

Deliciously indulgent. This stuff is perfect for sitting back relaxing and having a wonderful time doing nothing but stoking some charcoal and watching meat grill.

Jack Daniels Tennesse Honey 

I fell in love with this libation earlier this year. Many a bottle was used this past year in the Diva Q camp. (of course it was for sauce making………. yeah sure…we will go with that.) Try one of my favorite cocktails – I call it the Long Weekend made with JD Honey.

 

 

 


 


Maybe you won the lottery.. Maybe you bought microsoft stocks years ago…. Maybe you were a long lost relative of Steve Jobs and he left you a load of cash in his will… or maybe just like me you just have to dream….for now

Here is my ultimate BBQ Christmas Wish list….

Pitmaker Pits are absolutely gorgeous. Incredible cooking machines and fabricated to incredible specs. I have seen many of their pits in person. Awesome paint jobs tricked out to the 9’s with pop up LCD tvs, deep fryers and if you can dream it they will build it. Wicked cool.

Extreme BBQ trailers

To be able to design a trailer and have it custom made would be a dream. These are some of the most beautiful trailers I have seen.

 

Now if I am dreaming I may as well get a new truck too !! 2012 Super Duty F-450 King Ranch. It would have to be black

But its going to need this grill:


 

I have had the pleasure of working on this great BBQ more than once.The Traeger COM 200. It has 50 square feet of cooking space. Love the capacity and ease of use. Its a dream to cook pork butts on the traegers and the color and flavor just rocks.

Mack Daddy Outdoor Kitchens. Who wouldn’t love to cook outside in one of these? Down to the last brick I have one figured out. Now if I can just find the property and cash to make it a reality.

The FEC 500 is really an amazing cooking machine. Double walled insulation & double walled stainless steel interior. I have enjoyed cooking on a few of the smaller FEC100’s and they do an excellent job.

I ? Texas. I would love to own a big a$$ Ranch in Texas and get a real experience in cattle farming. Then BBQ out under the moon and the stars!!

I would think that spending a weekend with this guy would absolutely be wickedly awesome. Wouldn’t it be cool to just load up on groceries fire up some grills and cook with this guy. Steven Raichlen is a legend in BBQ. With multiple successful cookbooks and tv shows he knows BBQ and grilling.

Speaking of legends there are lots of awesome BBQ people that I would love to spend a weekend with too many to mention in fact……

Now to get around to all those Legends of BBQ and the legendary BBQ joints all over North America, to travel to every competition possible I am going to need one of these:

Prevost Luxury Centurion RV

There are lots of toys out there and lots of options to dream these are just a few of mine :-)


 


Trimming and tying your own beef tenderloins is a really easy process. We do quite a few of these each year for various holidays caterings etc.

Start by removing the tenderloin from the cryovac.

Running your finger to the one side you can part out most of the chain.  Then slice off the chain and set aside.

Peel off any excess membranes and bits of fat.

Scrape off all membrane and fat from the silverskin.

Insert the tip of your knife under the silverskin and run the knife pointing upwards along the length of the tenderloin to remove.

Turn the tenderloin over and trim hard pockets of fat off.  Trim any remaining fats and membrane from the tenderloin.

Flip the tenderloin back over and tuck under the thinnest end so that the thickness of the tenderloin is even.

Tie the roast with butchers twine at 1-2″ intervals.

Ready for the grill. Use the scraps to make stock or grind for some delicious hamburgers.

Check out this excellent video for more tips on trimming & Tying a Beef tenderloin.


 


MMMM Steak!

 

Back in 2009 I posted these pictures about how I like to do my steaks. I have found it is more juicy and much more beneficial to reverse sear steaks.  A friend of mine that writes a fantastic blog Greek Food & Beyond asked what steaks we prefer (my fav is a porterhouse- truly the best of all world).  It reminded me of this post I had done.

Start with an indirect method for charcoal. Maintain a grill level temp of between 225-250F

PLace your steaks on the indirect side of the grill. Close lid and bring the temperature of the steaks up to 115F internally.  Depending on your steaks thickness this can be 20-25 minutes.

 

Remove steaks and tent lightly with foil.  Bring your grill up to 400-500F

Return steaks to grill directly to form a great crust on both sides and an internal temperature of  125F Rare or 130F for medium rare.

Remove from grill and rest for 5-10 minutes.  As you slice into the steak you will notice that it is pink from top to bottom with no “gray line” .  The crust will be well developed. It will be much more juicy and flavorful throughout. I really encourage anyone to do this method and compare it side by side to a traditionally cooked steak seared first then with lower temperatures.

Enjoy!


 


I have a well noted serious love affair for my thermapens. They make it onto my Christmas giving list each year.

I have 3 of them. One is red, another is orange and the newest is pink. One stays in the trailer during competition season. One is always at the house and the other stays in my purse. You never know when you may want to temp something. Also in 5 years I have only had to change the batteries once. I use them often they have been through a lot and I am impressed with their durability and endurance.

What? You don’t know what a thermapen is?  Here is the breakdown right from their website:

The Super-Fast™ Thermapen™ has been a favorite among restaurant chains, health inspectors and quality managers worldwide. Hundreds of thousands are in use. The clever fold-away probe and the simple pocket design replace more costly and bulky handheld thermometers while using the same professional thermocouple technology. This new generation Thermapen™ introduces a robust, splash-proof design with molded-in seals to protect the thermometer from wet hands and kitchen splashes.

Speed & Accuracy
Even more accurate than before and slightly faster! Our proprietary circuit yields accuracies better than ±0.7°F. That includes all errors! (many competitors don’t include the probe error in their spec.) Each unit comes with a NIST-Traceable certificate of calibration showing test results for the individual thermometer. Resolution is now 0.1° over the full range. Improvements in the probe technology now yield a blazing fast speed of 3 seconds to a full temperature reading.

No Cables! 
The components most likely to fail in a commercial thermometer are the cable and its connector. Also, the typical handheld meter and probe combination requires two hands. What do you do with the cable when you’re through with it? The competition want you to wrap it around the meter, which is time consuming and a natural trap for grime and bacteria! The one-handed Thermapen™ eliminates frayed cables, snags, germ traps and wasted time while freeing your second hand.

Simple Operation
Just open the probe and the Thermapen™ comes on. Close it and it shuts off. No buttons or switches to catch germs, confuse staff and cause errors. Configuration settings in the battery compartment allow management to easily set the Thermapen™ for °C or °F, read in tenths or whole degrees (0.1° or 1°), and disable the auto-off for continuous readings till the probe is closed. Although likely to never be needed, a calibration trim button fine-tunes the Thermapen™ calibration at a single temperature such as an ice-bath.

Incredible Value 
The closest commercial competition for the Thermapen™ sells for about $200. Other meter and probe combinations sell for up to $250! In most cases, you can buy a whole new Thermapen™ for about the price the competition charges for just a replacement probe. Compare speed, convenience, accuracy and the new durability of the Splash-Proof Super-Fast™ Thermapen™ and you’ll see how you can save significant money while improving your own product quality.

BBQ friends and I talk on twitter back and forth through the day. One of them Wayne Brown from Big Wayners BBQ Blog.

You can find him on facebook, on twitter and his own website. We finally got to meet at the Jack this year and we had a blast:

Photo credit: Wayne Brown

We talked about thermapens and a new shipment he had received and I said they really need to come out with one with flames. I mean yes they have the beautiful assortment of colors but flames would just be awesome. Within minutes Wayne sent this picture back to me:

I want this.

 

I think thermapen needs to make this happen. Send them a tweet if you agree! Post on their facebook!


 


The road to Lynchburg. Its been 3 years. You know you have to pinch yourself to see if it is real. As we left our hotel and headed to Lynchburg it was almost surreal. Wow. We are heading back to the Jack. It is incredible to be here again. The last couple of days have been so overcast and rainy. As we drove towards Lynchburg the weather brightened the sun was shining and it was just lovely. I got goosebumps seeing the Lynchburg signs. Exciting at the same time.

As we approached the competition area we took it all in. Traffic jam at the entrance gave us a chance to see our friends from MR. Bobo’s travelling all stars BBQ team and the Burnside BBQ team from Canada.

We got to our site and we were introduced to Jim Johnson who was doing an International dinner in the pavillion where our site was to be. We set up what we could and we headed to the town square where we picked up our Jack merchandise. I could drop a lot of coin at the store. So many fun Jack Daniels items.

At 1pm we had reservations at Mrs. Mary Bobo’s

The meal was delicious and we had a great time. It was the first time the entire team has been together. There are 8 of us and since we all live in different cities etc. it is hard for us to get all together prior to the Jack.

The rest of the evening was a great get together with all of the International teams as they chowed down on catfish fries and a whole lot of other food from Jim Johnson. It was a lot of ppl to feed.


 

The rest of the night was spent drinking and fraternizing and having a really great time with so many folks we don’t get to see often enough. (No pictures LOL)

Now we head off to the hollow overnight to BBQ our very best. Ill catch the blog up on Sunday since Internet in the hollow is not that great. Make sure to check the twitter feed for updates throughout the next 24 hours. …


 


 

We went to this contest as a family. It was a super nice change from the Royal. I love being with my family at BBQ contests. The route to and from PA was spectacular with all of the fall foliage.

Vlad the happy driver!

The contest was a KCBS & MABA event. KCBS categories Chicken Ribs Pork and Brisket and MABA categories Weavers Bologna, Bell Evans Chicken Wings Bell Evans Leg and thighs plus dessert.

I got the shock of my life when we received our products to use in the auxiliary categories.  The Lebanon bologna was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It is much closer to a sweet summer sausage. I had no idea what to do with it. My plans went out the window as soon as I saw it. I had never entered a bologna contest ever. Both the bologna and the wings were submitted on Friday night so it was a busy evening.

 So I cubed it up and slathered it with Sam Dog BBQ Mustard Sauce and a few other ingredients. Placed it in one of the Traegers and let it smoke for 4 hours until all the sides were caramelized. Lets just say it wasn’t pretty, but it was super tasty. We put it in our individual containers added a shot of Forty Creek whiskey as a chaser and sent it off to the judges.

We also competed in the wing category.  I love categories with open plating and we had a lot of fun with this one. We decided to give the judges some of our Yeungling beer as a side to the wings. I mean really who doesn’t love wings and beer?? I wish we could have tried one of teh wings but we had so few to work with (Meat was supplied) that we just had enough to barely fill the plate.

The rest of our Friday night was spent socializing. There are a lot of teams we got to catch up with including one of my Sisters in Smoke Jenny from Black Cat BBQ.

I believe there may have been some tequila involved. Really really good tequila from the fine folks Chip & Sally at Red Lion Spicy Foods one of our neighbors.

After a few libations I headed off to bed for a couple of hours. It was a lovely albeit cold evening.  Perfect for me.

When I woke up one of my other neighbors was up and stoking the fire in his Jambo. Mike Richter is an uber BBQ competitor. Currently ranked #3 in the KCBS TOY. He is super kind and nice to chat with I am glad to call him a friend.  I don’t get to see him or Barb often enough.

Then as the sun rose I took a bit of a walk about. Got to visit with the Smokin Gnomes, Tim, Tiny’s BBQ, and a whole lotta other terrific people.

The time got away from me a bit and I put on my Bell Evans best legs contest meat a bit late. Grill Grates came to the rescue and we turned in grilled chicken. It was tasty chicken. Much different from our normal KCBS chicken.

I can blame the time getting away from me on one thing. Donuts. Seriously damn good donuts. The biggest box of donuts ever that was provided to the teams along with coffee too!  Like a moth to a flame I was entranced….

The rest of the entries including dessert last went off without a hitch. They went in the boxes fine but the brisket was dry and I tried a couple of new presentations that I was thinking of doing for the Jack next weekend.  I figured if the brisket came in above DAL well then the judges were going to be very generous.

The awards ceremony time came and we headed off.

To my absolute shock we got a 1st place in bologna. LOL still makes me giggle.

We also took a 3rd in dessert 4th in wings and a 4th in Pork. The judges were uber generous and gave us 39/47 in brisket. They didn’t like our ribs 23/47 or our chicken 24/47 overall coming in at 21/47. Ugh. The Bell Evans BEst legs I am not sure where we ended up as they only reported to 5th place.

Huge congratulations to Aporkalypse Now (aka Myron of the North) for their GC and to Lo & Slo BBQ on their RGC and to all who competed!

So that’s it for regular comps for the year for us and we are now packing for the Jack next weekend. Hopefully we come home with at least 1 of these again :-) that would be spectacular !

I just need to get through catering a wedding and a baby shower this weekend plus a couple of soccer matches with the kids- a presentation at school and then driving there for 18 hours. I’ll sleep when I am dead. God bless the staff at Starbucks. They are keeping me upright with all the caffeine I am consuming.


 


 

Wow. What a trip. What a challenge. I am still sleep deprived and catching up on blog posts……

 

I flew into Kansas to compete in the American Royal Invitational and the Open. It was a blast. Absolutely exhausting and completely absorbing.


My illustrious site. One 10×10 tent 1 table and a really cool Q Kitchen equipped with an FE and a mack daddy char-broiler.

I am lucky to have some great friends all over. Truly once again let me repeat BBQ people are awesome. They do anything and everything to help. So with friends like Andy & Kim Groneman and the Early family, I had everything I needed to compete. Bare bones but all of the essentials. A complete kitchen with an FE and a charbroiler, a Tent a cot, some coolers and friends to help. I had stocked up the previous day with Kim at BBQFans, Liberty Fruit and the hen house and I was all set.

 

 

However I will say my site had to be one of the worst possible locations ever. Horrible would be an understatement. I was right along the end of the entrance (AKA  HALLWAY OF HELL! – see below)  for the folks heading into the dark side and when they wanted to drag their drunk obnoxious loud asses home they had to go right by my site again.

Then there was the lovely* cleaning crew located right around the corner that seemed to take great joy every morning at 3am waking all of us up with their noise. They didn’t stop till well past 7 or 8 am.

Total sleep for 2 days less than 6 hours. Total times I wanted to throttle someone — ———– I can’t count that high.

My super comfy cot with Big Poppas Smokers Sweater pillow.

Just an example of two of the drunks that stumbled by.  Freak clowns. I should have just set up a video camera.

Sleep deprivation aside it was a challenge. I have only cooked on an FE 3 times prior to this. Thank fully I had taken Butcher BBQ and Plowboys class and they covered how they run their meats in their FE’s In addition Andy was uber helpful. Anytime you do 2 contests back to back it is a challenge :-)

I got to spend some time socializing with friends and thats a big part of getting to go to the Royal


I also had a couple of Texans – Chris Jones and David Henry plus Neil Strawder with me to run boxes and to help where they could. That was a really fun part of the weekend. Loved hanging with the guys.

I also got to spend time with a Legend and dear friend of mine Dave Raymond from Sweet baby Rays. I love this guy. He rocks.

The Royal is an interesting contest. On day one for the Invitational I came in 88th out of 141 and in the Open 81st out of 498 . Not stellar by any means. It was a challenge and I am really glad I did it no matter what the results.  It was an excellent personal challenge just to get through it all. I know I made some good BBQ.

Another huge highlight for the weekend had to be participating in a steak throw down as part of the KCBS tour !I got to compete against Heath Hall of Pork Barrel BBQ Fame. We had a blast with this and it was tons of fun!!

I had a huge surge of patriotic Canadian pride seeing 2 of my fellow countrymen Tim Brown and Daryl Maybanks from Can’t Stop Grilling take Reserve Grand Championship in the open!! They had a rough Invitational and came out on top HUGE congrats to them both and for also using Kingsford as it doubled their prize money!! WTG guys!!

Congratulations to all who got their name called and to everyone who just survived the Royal again!!

Results for both Days Invitational (Congratulations Tippycanoe BBQ Crew GC!) and Open (Congratulations Motley Que Crew GC!)