Posts Tagged ‘fun’
Smoked Bacon Wrapped Meatball Tree
I thought it would be a nice idea to try a new presentation for my bacon wrapped meatballs.
I have made many traditional Crockenbouche for past Christmas events and I thought the design would be super festive for meatballs. This worked really well and it was fun and easy to make.
This was fun to do and everyone at our annual Christmas party.
I started with an 8” foam core tree shape and wrapped it in foil.
I used extra-long “Clubhouse sandwich” toothpicks. The meat balls were 2 boxes (almost 3 lbs) of Angus Beef Meatballs from Sobeys that are pre-cooked. I wrapped them each with 1/3 slice of bacon each then sprinkled with Smoky Mountain Smokers Chipotle rub. They were smoked on my Traeger for just over an hour at 225F. I used Hickory & Oak pellets. When I removed them I glazed them with Garland Jack’s Secret Six Hickory Spice BBQ Sauce.
Pretty simple after that point just poke them in tightly until the tree is full. I also made a bacon star that took me a few tries to get right btw a super cute when done. The star bacon shape was baked on a silpat sheet to keep it flat. I did the star at 225F and it took 3 strips of bacon to make.
All of the bacon I used was 18/22 slice size.
The tree was simply garnished with the last sprigs of rosemary from my garden. It was a great appetizer for my Christmas party guests who have a serious love for all things bacon & BBQ.
I often get asked for advice about starting a Competition BBQ Team. Its a never ending process. I learn something at every contest.
Here are a few forms I use for each and every competition
Here are some helpful tips to get you started as a competition team. Remember Having fun is a big part of it but planning it can make it a whole lot better.
Practical tips & advice for new competition BBQ teams
Keep practicing until you get completely comfortable within competition timelines. Practice until you are sick of eating bbq. When you practice at home follow the same timelines as a real competition. Set up like you would a real competition (no running back into the house).
Ask your friends to critique your food. Ask them to rate it just like at a competition. Give them score cards. After a competition analyze your scores. Find out what the judges didn’t like. It’s not personal. It’s just competition. Learn from it.
- Good Notes are worth their weight in gold
At every contest and for every test cook keep notes and take lots of pictures. In addition your expenses should be tracked as well. How much you spend on all of the items you need and what it cost to get there. Be practical. You can’t do every contest (unless you are a millionaire) so pick and choose carefully based on your income and comfort level in spending money on a hobby.
Things to take note of:
Temperature outside, and inside your grill
Placement on the grill
- Change one thing at a time.
When making changes to your flavor profiles, cooking temperature or any other competition change – only change one thing at a time. Measure the results and adjust accordingly. If you change too much you don’t know what you are measuring.
- Clean as you go.
When you finish a turn in clean up and set up again for the next category. Don’t leave this till the last minute. A clean and de-cluttered competition table makes for an easier environment to work in.
For easier cleanup I like to use Smoky Mountain Smokers Disposable Cutting Boards- they make cleanup lot easier and there is much less chance for cross contamination.
- Consistency Consistency Consistency
Set up the same at every contest. Set your grills up, your tables up even the drink coolers in the same location. Do things on schedule at the same time. You should plan what you are doing every hour of the contest. Saves valuable time when it comes to turn in crunch time.
- Have a back-up plan
If you use electrical based grills- have a generator and make sure you have gas. Same for electrical appliances – be prepared. If the contest runs out of power how do you recover? Make a plan.
- Be Considerate, have fun and play nice.
Introduce yourself and your team to other teams. Don’t play your music too loud. Don’t encroach on your neighbours’ competition site. Ask before entering anyone’s site or wait to be invited. Share electricity and water fairly. Mind your own kids- don’t let them run all over other people’s sites. Offer to help someone if you can. Ask general questions but don’t ask specifics i.e. – what’s in a competitor’s sauce or rub. Everyone remembers the idiots.
- It’s a lot cheaper to party at home.
Drinking to excess at a contest really doesn’t make that much sense. It is a pretty darn expensive party. Save the liquid libations for after the last turn in time and when the packing and cleaning is done. It’s not a pretty sight to have to clean up BBQ gunk and grease when you are hung over. Plus if you play make sure you stay the night or have a designated driver.
- Taste trumps everything.
Taste is the #1 most important factor in scoring for KCBS. Keep that always in mind that you should be spending more time on taste than appearance- always.
- Be Prepared
Find out what the weather is going to be like well in advance. Search the contest location on Google maps. Take note of where the water and electricity is. Find out who you should contact in case of an emergency.
Have an inventory list of all the items you use in competition. For sauces and rubs make sure you have enough for each contest. Order regularly to ensure freshness.
- Share with your competition neighbors.
Wherever possible try other competitor’s entries. Write down what you taste. Make notes on their turn ins. Ask for honest feedback from them. Its good – doesn’t tell you much. Ask them to be specific.
- Shorten the learning curve.
Before the contest read the Competition forums on the net. Watch you tube videos. There is lots of great information out there on box presentations, rubs, how to videos and sauces. Take a class from an experienced competitor. Take a judging class. Judge a contest. See what is being turned in. All of these will help shorten the learning curve.
- Shut up Pay attention and listen.
Pay attention to your competitors and what they are doing. Listen to experienced bbq’ers on the competition circuit. Ask the contest reps for advice. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion. Often the best advice received is not the advice that was solicited.
- Edit delete and remove.
After a contest take a look at what you packed and what you actually used. Always go back and edit your notes, delete anything unnecessary and remove anything you didn’t use. Packing too many just in case items just adds up to a much longer competition clean-up. For example I love these heavy duty bus pans. They serve multiples of purposes. i use them to pack items in them. Then when I arrive at a contest I line them with bags to prep- then finally as a dish pan. Three purposes one item to pack.
- Show me the money!
Remember that you don’t write the check. You don’t give out the scores. What you like to eat and the flavor profile you enjoy- doesn’t matter. The only people that matter are the judges. It’s their opinions and taste buds that put you on the podium. You should taste test everything with a clean palette (no smoking or drinking anything but water) but remember just because you love 5 spice powder with a heavy hot sauce doesn’t mean the judges will.
One little tweet. Thats all it took for the BBQ community to get all in a kerfuffle about a new Season of BBQ Pitmasters
2 days later a post on the BBQ Forum provided a link to the information:
BBQ Pitmasters is back!
Season 3 begins shooting in March!!
Good Luck to everyone sending in their audition tapes!! I had a blast doing the show in Season 2.
Of course the debate about BBQ on tv continues on. Well documented by one of my favorite BBQ blogs
The BBQ Brethren
Lots of discussions are going on here.
Pig Candy is a truly versatile ingredient in recipes. You can serve it up whole, add it to cookies, cakes, ice creams and everything in between.
This time I decided to make a fun pretzel with it.
Super simple easy and absolutely bad for you deliciousness. You can make it as spicy as you would like. This time I traded the chipotle powder for 1/2 cup Piri Piri hot sauce. It was a good change and I really liked the results.
- 2 lbs pig candy (finely chopped)
- 2 cups Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips (or substitute dark chocolate) melted
- 1 bag Great Value Honey twist pretzels 283gr
Well I am really behind in my blog posts but I thought I should share a few pictures and results from the Canadian National BBQ Championships in Whistler BC as well as my trip overall.
I flew out earlier this summer to spend some time with my BBQ BFF Angie Quaale teach at her incredible gourmet food store Well Seasoned and while I was there compete.
It was a culinary indulgent trip for sure. BC is where my Mom was born and I have not been since I was just a few months old. The first thing I said after getting off the plane was holy crap those mountains are huge.
*Please note this picture was taken by Ralph Maughan
You see no picture does them justice to get their magnitude and their impressive size and beauty. Gorgeous breathtaking and majestic don’t seem t do them any justice as an adequate description.
Also I have to state the people of BC are seriously laid back. They take their relaxation very seriously. Shortly after getting off the plane we headed to Granville Island. Now this was an incredible place to spend the day just hanging out eating some of their delicious local fare and well of course having a few cocktails.
Wandering around the streets of Vancouver afterwards with my hosts Dennis and Angie was a whole lot of fun. There is so much to look at and see taste and experience that it is a bit of sensory overload.
After spending the day being tourists we proceeded to the beach at English Bay for the evening to watch one of the most incredible fireworks displays at the Symphony of Fire from Team Spain. We had a very long extended and relaxing meal with a whole lot of cocktails.
Here is part one of some video from the event.
It was an incredible way to end my very first day in BC.
The next day was all about relaxing kicking back and just getting caught up.
To top it off we went to a comedy club contest. This was held in a not so savory part of the city and was an adventure in itself. Some of the comedy was so horrible it was funny. The highlight was a friend of Angies – Art Factora who was funny, truly funny and kept us laughing long after he came off stage. they also served PBR a favorite beer of mine.
I also held a couple of recreational BBQ classes while I was there. I taught a class on ribs and also a class on BBQ desserts. Well Seasoned has had chefs from across the world come and teach at the store everyone from top TV Chefs to local favorites. Their course calendar is packed to the hilt with culinary excellence and opportunities to learn.
On another day we headed out to lunch with Anthony Sedlak famed Chef and star of the MAIN on the Food Network. Funny guy who likes to stand on his head. A lot. He was great company to have lunch with and I am really looking forward to seeing his various projects come to fruition. We tried a new burger place Romer’s Burger Bar and by the descriptions on the menu I was really looking forward to my burger. Sadly the burgers lacked in taste texture and overall appearance but the company I had more than made up for the poor meal.
One of the all time best meals I actually had during my stay was in Angies and Dennis’ backyard. we had a truly divinly decadently delicious halibut that Angie crusted with Salt & Vinegar potato chips. It was incredible. Dennis had caught the halibut himself. Paired with some fresh veggies, salads and a couple of bottles of wine this was by far my favorite meal from the entire vacation.
We also did girly things like get pedicure and one other thing I never ever thought I would do … we got tattoos. Yup. Tattoos. You see I have been calling Angie and I and a few other ladies of BBQ sisters in Smoke. Angie one day called me a said in her ever so exuberant voice you know we should get tattoos when you come to BC….. and so we did. She got hers on her leg and I got mine on my wrist. I won’t kid you it hurt like heck at first but the pain went away and I am so happy I did it. There are a few other ladies now that have plans to get the same tattoo as well and thats going to be pretty awesome.
We had to prep and get supplies for the competition in Whistler so we ended up doing some shopping and of course did a little trip to Washington as well. One of the great things about BC is the availability of incredible produce and meats everywhere you go.
I have to go into more detail about one of the places at the Granville market.
Oh My goodness this place is an amazing culinary feast. We went back to Granville to stock up on munchies for Whistler. This is where I fell in love with an incredible charcuterie place called Oyama Sausage Company.
They make everything themselves. Pate’s, hams sausages terrines salamis cured smoked meats you name it they have it and its all delicious. I want to go back and try every single thing they make. Everything.
This is the picture of the brand new Traeger 300. It is really cool and I get to play on one next month. I can’t wait. Monday I’ll post more specs on it. Its going to be awesome.
Theres a new website online for sharing videos, BBQ tips and creating more BBQ communities:
Check it out and upload, watch and share your BBQ!