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WhiteTrash BBQ -- Real Pit Barbecue from New York City. This is the story of a fire obsessed guy, living in Brooklyn, with a dream of producing award winning, competition busting, real Barbeque. Come live the dream as I compete around the country in the KCBS Championship Barbecue circuit.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Judging Harpoon

I know that I owe you all a post about judging barbecue at Harpoon, but time is catching up with me and remembering the specifics of the various dishes is getting harder and harder with each passing day. Oh, how I long for the days when you could photograph the food. I think the next time I judge, I'll bring a notebook with me to take notes.

While this may be a bit of a cop out, but I'm going to try my best to give you the full run down of what remains in my mind. I can't remember enough about any one entry to give you the full process of scoring that particular piece of meat.

First up to be judged, is chicken and it's my favorite. We received six samples and the first thing I noticed was that the turn-ins have taken on a new look. After a class by the Smokin' Triggers last year, many of the teams have begun submitting their food on a putting green of parsley. It's very pretty and offsets the meat beautifully, but looking at box after box of parsley gets boring quick. I know you don't judge the garnish, but c'mon folks. Show some creativity here!

A few judges at my table complained about having to scrape the parsley off their meat before sampling it. One judge said that if it sticks, he eats the parsley because that's the way the cook presented it. He then said that he scores the meat down because the taste of parsley takes away from the flavor of the meat.

The chicken submitted was almost exclusively thighs, but one entry was the middle, two bone section of chicken wings. That entry was the unanimous favorite at my table.

Ribs were next with most entries composed of baby back ribs, but my table received two spare rib submissions. Nice! One entry of spares was badly burnt and over cooked, but apart from that nothing stands out in my mind.

Pork came in third as it always does and again, nothing stands out in my mind.

Brisket was the final category and by the time this arrived, I really didn't want to eat any more food. It's always the case. One judge and I were discussing that he felt the same way. He and I wondered if brisket scores are affected by it being the last food category turned in. While it's the most difficult of the competition meats to cook properly, does it get the respect and fair shake it deserves coming after the judges are too full to eat? Would brisket be better served if it was judged first?

My brisket samples ranged from OK to almost inedible. One piece was so tough that I couldn't bite through it. Another was so dry it actually snapped in half when I lifted it off the plate.

There are a couple of new trends that I noticed. One, teams are only finishing one side of the entry. The side that lain on the parsley or lettuce was often left un-sauced or seared. It's interesting, but I wonder why a team would do that. When putting the meat in my mouth, I usually keep the top up. With the sauce only on top, all those flavorings are not the first thing my tongue experiences. Did that affect the scores? Maybe.

Another was that this was the year of Blues Hog sauce. It seemed that every other entry in every category was sauced with Blues Hog. As a judge, it got pretty boring and I had to fight the urge to score the teams down for this. It wouldn't be fair to penalize a cook because 10 other teams used the same sauce.

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with the food at this year's Harpoon. There was a conformity to the entries as if they were all prepared by the students of one teacher. There was very little uniqueness to any entry. Even the guys over at iQue noticed it...

"One take-away thought I had was so many teams are cooking in a similar fashion its getting harder to standout. I think I saw a Backwoods Smoker and a bottle of Blues Hog sauce at almost every contest site at Harpoon."

The grilling contest the next day was a real disappointment. At last year's event, I had some of the best food I've ever eaten. It was the first time I've ever given perfect scores. Maybe it was just the luck of the draw, but nothing stands out as great this time.

The categories in the Summer Sizzler (the grilling contest) were: fish, beef, lamb and chef's choice.

I remember a really good Chilean sea bass with a ginger touched sauce as being my favorite of the contest. Two of the beef entries looked like melted hockey pucks in the box and most of the lamb submissions didn't taste like lamb. The one exception was iQue's lamb pictured in this post. (Thanks for the photo guys!)

I thought the grilled lamb medallions, only cross hatched on top, were the best meat I had all weekend. One judge noticed that the medallion he sampled was not cooked evenly as the side that was cross hatched on the grill was more "done". Mine, however was cooked perfectly. Unfortunately, the pulled lamb in the box was boring and didn't help the score.

So that's it. One man's experience of the event. Harpoon was a lot of fun and the food was good, not great and a bit boring as too many folks are using the same flavors. But I can't wait to get back. It's a great contest. There's something very unique about Harpoon and well worth the trip.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

KCBS Judging

I'm back from judging Harpoon and let me tell you the Harpoon is a great event. It doesn't pay much, it only holds about 45 teams, it's not in the best location, it doesn't have indoor facilities, it usually rains, but the Harpoon has a great vibe. Something, besides the free beer, encourages the teams to put out their best.

One great thing about the Harpoon is that it attracts a couple of top teams from outside the Northeast. One team there this year was TheSlabs.com and another was Smokin' Triggers. Both are legendary on the KCBS circuit, but don't visit Yankee territory very often. Unfortunately, with KCBS judging being blind, I have no idea if I got to try any of their food.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I take my judging responsibilities seriously, as does every judge I know. I think long and hard about my scores before I commit them to paper. I always makes sure that I eat from various parts of the samples trying the middle, top and bottom, left and right sides.

I always sample whatever the cook puts in that box. If there is sliced and pulled pork, I sample all of it. If there's dark and white meat chicken, I sample all of it. I believe in giving the cook the best shot at a perfect score.

It's not always easy. Like it or not most competition barbecue is just "average." One of the most common discussions amongst cooks and judges about the judging criteria is "What is average?" "Can you define average?"

Many cooks believe that by simply getting a box in on time they deserve an "average" score. I disagree, but can average be defined? Most people say no, but I'm going to try.

A quick flashback to the points awarded in competition judging: Nine (excellent), Eight (very good), Seven (above average), Six (average), Five (below average), Four (poor), Three (bad), Two (inedible), One (disqualified). All items are judged on three criteria: Appearance (of the meat only -- not how it is presented), Taste and Texture.

So what determines an average score? Here's my take, your mileage may vary....

To receive an "average" score, a meat must meet the KCBS definition of its category. It must be barbecue. It must be properly cooked, presented well and seasoned properly. The judge must be able to taste the meat as well as the seasonings and/or sauce.

Pretty vague huh? Yeah. But to be "average" across all categories I think the definition has to be. Want details for each category? That's another bunch of posts.

At Harpoon, the scores I assigned ranged from 9 to 5. So tomorrow I'll get into some real life experiences on how I scored some of the Harpoon competition foods. We'll talk about the long and winding road from "excellent" to "average" to my lowest assigned score, the dreaded "below average".

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Friday, July 25, 2008


I'm off judging the New England BBQ Society Championships at the Harpoon Brewery in Vermont this weekend. It easily has some of the best barbecue in the circuit - and guess what? At this event, the competitive teams are allowed to sell to the public. If you're within 300 miles, it's worth the trip. But before you and I go, here's a quick refresher on what Barbecue is! Talk to you when I get back.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

KCBS Judging Procedures

I received an email from a reader of this blog who asked me to explain the judging procedures, so I went right to the source. Here are the judging procedures as posted by the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

Judging Procedures

KCBS sanctioning allows for blind judging only. Entries will be submitted in an approved KCBS numbered container provided by the contest organizer. The container may be re-numbered by the KCBS Contest Rep or authorized personnel before being presented to the judges.
  1. Judges may not fraternize with teams on turn-in day until conclusion of judging.
  2. Judging will be done by a team of 6 persons, who are at least 16 years of age. (Only Judges, Contest Reps and necessary support staff are allowed in judging area during the judging process. No other activities are permitted in the judging area, during judging process. )
  3. Each judge will first score all the samples for appearance of the meat. The turn-in containers will then be passed around the table and each judge will place a sample from each of the containers in the appropriate box on the judging mat. The judge will then score each entry for taste and tenderness/texture, before moving on to the next entry.
  4. The scoring system is from 9 to 2, all whole numbers between two and nine may be used to score an entry. 9 excellent, 8 very good, 7 above average, 6 average, 5 below average, 4 poor, 3 bad, and 2 inedible
  5. A score of one (1) is a disqualification and requires approval by a Contest Rep. Grounds for disqualification: Appearance: Unapproved garnish, sculptured meat,marked turn-in container, foreign object in container, less than 6 samples of meat or pooled sauce. Taste & Tenderness: Sculptured meat, marked turn-in container, foreign object in container, or judges not receiving a sample.
  6. The weighting factors for the point system are as follows: Appearance - 0.5714, Taste - 2.2858, Tenderness / Texture - 1.1428
  7. The low score will be thrown out. Results will be tallied. If there is a tie in one of the categories, it will be broken by the computer, as follows: The scores will be compared (counting all five judges) for the highest cumulative scores in taste, then tenderness, then appearance. If still tied, then the low score, which was thrown out, will be compared and the higher of the low scores will break the tie. If still tied, then a computer generated coin toss will be used.
  8. Total points per entry will determine the champion within each classification of meat.
  9. Cumulative points for only the four (4) KCBS classifications will determine the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion (except the Dodge City, KS; BarbeQlossal; Tryon, NC, contests, or at the election of these organizers.)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Scoring Barbecue

About a year ago, KCBS instituted a new system in judging. In an effort to get more consistent scores from the judges, they added a word definition to each number score. There are three criteria that meat entries are judged upon -- appearance, taste, tenderness/texture. Scores can range from nine to one:
  • Nine (excellent)
  • Eight (very good)
  • Seven (above average)
  • Six (average)
  • Five (below average)
  • Four (poor)
  • Three (bad)
  • Two (inedible)
  • One (disqualified)
When I was taught to be a judge, I was in the first year of the "new" system. I was taught that judging begins at 6 and to raise or lower the score as the entry warranted. In the old system, the judges began at 9 and worked their way down. Personally, I think the new system makes more sense as not every turn in would be "excellent," most would be "average."

The old system created a lot of perfect scores and the new system changed all of that. But it caused a real riot amongst many of the cooks who were used to seeing scores of 8 & 9 on a regular basis.

I remember talking with one team at an event about their scores. This may have been the first contest for them where the new rules were in place. They had mostly scores of 7 & 8. A couple of entries had scores of 6 and one category had a 5. They hit the roof. "5? A 5 would mean it's inedible." "A 6? We've never gotten scores so low before." "These new judges don't know shit."

Their reaction to the new scoring system took out all the joy for them of a third place finish. The next time I saw them they were again bitching about their scores, but the still were in the top 5 of the event. The rest of the top 10 finishers were teams whom you would expect to be there. The cream still rose to the top.

After every one of these conversations with the teams I reflect on the scores I gave out. I agonize about the 5 I gave one entry or the 4 I gave another. I spend a lot of time going over it in my head before I write it on the judging card and still more in the drive home. I've never come to the conclusion that I gave a wrong score, but I know how they will be perceived. Let's face it, everyone wants a high score, even if their entry doesn't warrant it.

The new worded definitions have made me think a little more about the scores I gave out this year. 4 out of 9 does not sound as bad as "poor." "Poor" is a slap in the face. "Bad" or "inedible" are even worse. A wordless 4 was much easier to assign than to give a "poor" rating. I can't imagine ever giving an "inedible" score.

Talking with the other judges, the word scores have caused many of them to rethink their scoring as well. Some are raising the scores they assign. Others are taking a little longer before giving the score. Some don't give a shit and will continue to judge it on the old "start at 9" system.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out this season. Will the overall scores rise? Will we be seeing more "perfect" scores again? Time will tell, but like I said, the cream still rises to the top.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Here Come Da Judge

I'm a bit overworked right now, but I want to put up the KCBS judge's oath that is recited before every contest...

"I do solemnly swear to objectively and subjectively evaluate each Barbeque meat that is presented to my eyes, my nose, my hands and my palate. I accept my duty to be an Official KCBS Certified Judge, so that truth, justice, excellence in Barbeque and the American Way of Life may be strengthened and preserved forever."

I already mentioned that I like to review the rules and thought processes before judging contests and I'll be talking more about that later, but on the BBQ Forum, there is a thread about a judge who purposely low balled his scores at a recent event. I find that a little hard to believe as I've never encountered a judge who doesn't take the oath seriously, even if it is a bit corny.

I've heard the complaints from cooks about low scores and inconsistent scores and I don't really share their opinions. Sometimes a low score is justified. Sometimes a low score from one judge when everyone else at the table gives a high score is justified.

At one event where I judged I sampled a rib that was a tough as shoe leather and scored it appropriately. When the judging was complete, the judge next to me pointed to his sample and declared it the best of the bunch. I challenged him and we each then sampled each other's ribs. (Easy now.) His rib was indeed one of the best ribs I ever had, and he agreed with me that my rib sucked. (OK, we're going over the top here.)

When asked how he'd score my rib, he gave an even lower score than I had. So my dear cooks, sometimes a low score from one judge is indeed credible.

Most judges take the oath very seriously and think very hard before putting down a score. I think the KCBS scoring system works and hopefully this "judge" will be stopped before he judges again.

EDIT: I posted this because on the BBQ Forum it stated that this judge was out to hammer the teams, as he is usually a competition cook and was looking to hurt teams he usually goes up against, but I wonder if that was his real goal. On another forum he states that he was judging honestly and as best he could. If that's the case, he did good. If he can justify his low scores they should stand.

I'll give him the benefit of the doubt as I don't know him and I wasn't there. But if he was out to low ball the competition, IMHO he should be banned not only from judging, but from competing as well.

Photograph courtesy of Pig Daddy's BBQ.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Whatcha doin?

While you're inside in the air conditioning surfing the net and avoiding this heatwave, check out this story in the Albany Times Union about the Troy Pig Fest and two of the teams competing there; The Anchormen (seen on the left, my left not the blog's left, who were the 2007 Grand Champions of Grillin' On The Bay) and Lakeside Smokers.

But wait, don't go yet, there's lots of stuff coming up here in WhiteTrash BBQ world. I've got a review of the Brinkmann Smoke n' Grill, reviews of some new books; The Shameless Carnivore and Meat: A Love Story, and finally reviews of a couple of NYC BBQ restaurants that I've visited lately.

Coming up there's the great hot dog taste challenge between Oscar Mayer's premium beef hot dogs , BallPark's beef hot dogs, and our usual house brand Nathan's; reviews of La Cense's all natural, hormone and antibiotic free grass fed beef and a review of a turducken from The Cajun Grocer. We're going be eating high on the hog!

Also, I'll be talking a little about the KCBS judging process. I'll be up in Vermont next weekend to judge the Harpoon Brewery New England BBQ Championships at which the New England BBQ Society crowns its team of the year and I like to review my thought process and the rules before I judge any event. I'm really looking forward to this contest. Last year I ate some of the best grilled foods I've ever had and I swear the beer had nothing to do with it!

And finally, at this year's Hudson Valley Ribfest, I'll be competing under my own name as WhiteTrash BBQ. I'll be joined by my old friend and pitmaster of Hot Hogs, Pete and the founder of the NY Barbecue Lover's Meetup Group, Kevin. Hopefully one of the "Mikes" whom I competed with last year will be available to round out the team. Preparations are under way, but I don't expect to win as I don't compete anywhere near enough, but a fun time is guaranteed for all.

Yup, it's busy in the world of WhiteTrash BBQ!

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Friday, July 18, 2008

BBQ Competitions: First Ever Pig Out

Live in Central New York? Got plans this weekend? No? Well, I've got some suggestions for you. Check out the "first ever" Pig Out in Troy, New York.

The Troy Pig Out in Riverfront Park, Downtown Troy, NY, will welcome professional BBQ teams from across the United States for this two day competition which includes a People’s Choice Beef Rib Eye competition on Saturday, and the main event on Sunday.

The Troy Pig Out is officially sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society and the office of the Governor as the New York State BBQ Championship, qualifying the winner for the national championships at the American Royal and the Jack.

Great food and great music are the main attractions for guests to the festival, with live music filling Riverfront Park on both Saturday and Sunday, and a special fireworks show on Saturday night over the Hudson River.

This festival is FREE to attend!!

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Food Events: The Chili Takedown

The Chili Takedown is in back in Brooklyn.

August 10 at 5PM

Union Pool

484 Union Ave

BRILLIANT way to spend a Sunday

Free to enter your brilliant chili concoction!

$10 to come eat and judge all the entrants!

They're teaming up with foodie and author Scott Gold, who wrote The Shameless Carnivore! He and a few other celebrity foodies will be judging!

Chili-takedown.com has all the pertinent info for contestants and eaters alike!


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BBQ Meals: Veal Roast

I've heard this complaint from other BBQ'rs. Sometimes you start only worrying about the 4 competition meats; chicken, ribs, brisket and pork shoulder. You stop cooking other meats and forget about the spontaneity and creativity that made you enjoy live fire cooking in the first place. Maybe that's what I'm experiencing and why I'm not finding my voice.

In the butcher case yesterday, I looked over all the usual suspects. Nothing was leaping out of the case saying "cook me. Cook me." I was looking at the chickens, but gave up and was actually considering grilling pork chops for dinner. (I hate pork chops as we were forced fed them as children) But right next to the pork was the veal. Suddenly my interest was being peaked.

Hmm, veal chops? It's been a long time since we've had veal chops. Veal cutlets? It's been longer since we've had veal cutlets. A good veal parmigiana would be an nice meal. No, it always upsets my stomach, I thought. What's this? A veal roast? I've never made one of those. How different can it be then a regular roast beef? "Cook me," it called. I grabbed the little guy, or gal I should say, and headed to the cashier.

So last night I followed the sun. I rubbed that boneless veal roast with some Bob Tallman's All Around Texas Style Fixin's and smoked the veal roast over a charcoal and apple wood fire for about 3 hours. I smoked the veal until it was medium rare. And I did it by feel. No thermometers of any kind were used in this cook.

Sweet BeJejbus! It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a meal so much. It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a cook so much. No pressure. No deadline. No complicated meat preparation.

Yes, this is what cooking is all about.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Willie B's - Bayshore's Finest

Yesterday I paid a rare visit to Willie B's Award Wining BBQ located at 222 Fifth Ave., Bayshore, NY 11706 and I'm glad I did. Wilie B's has long been on my list of recommended restaurants and I haven't been out there since before my car accident in April. Willie has some of the best chicken, brisket and ribs on Long Island and I encourage you to stop in and try it out.

And, he's now selling Wicked Good Charcoal. Wicked Good is something of a legend in the New York and New England BBQ circles and I think this is the only place on Long Island where it can be purchased at the retail level. In addition to the charcoal, Will's also selling hard wood for smoking. You can buy oak, maple, cherry and even olive. Olive? Olive.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Turkey London Broil

Last night for dinner we had a cut of meat I've never heard of before; turkey London broil. What's turkey London broil? Well at my butcher, Brenman's Meat Market 2496 Gerritsen Ave Brooklyn, New York 11229, it's a boneless skinless half turkey breast that's marinaded in white wine, garlic and spices.

We purchased a 2lb turkey London broil and took it home and grilled it over a Stubbs brand charcoal fire in my trusty Weber kettle. 3 people for dinner.

There were no leftovers.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Adam Perry Lang

Frequent readers of this blog will know Adam Perry Lang. It's always good to see him on the competition trail or at his restaurant Daisy May's BBQ. I was real surprised to get this in my email today.

Here's Adam with a quick primer on how to cook California stone fruit, that's peaches, plumbs and nectarines to you and me. Enjoy.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

WhiteTrash in the Media

I was just interviewed on AgriTalk - The voice of rural America with Mike Adams and I have to say it was not my best performance. Mike is somewhere out in the heartland of America and I'm sitting here in Brooklyn. I've never met Mike or listened to his show before the request came in for an interview and it showed in our conversation.

We spoke over the phone and it was hard to get a feel for Mike or what he and the audience wanted to talk about. I felt like I was a kid again and a friend just dropped a phone in my lap saying "Here, talk to Mike" without knowing anything about him. The awkward silences were not good radio.

I don't think I'll be doing any more phone interviews.

BBQ Events: Free Chicken!

What are you doing tonight? If you're smart you'll be heading over to the Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City for some free barbecue chicken.

From 4pm to 11pm you'll be able to pig out on some yard bird while basking in the view of the greatest skyline in the world.

See you there.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Fourth of July and Grilled Porterhouse Steaks

I'm still here. I'm having a hard time finding my voice lately, so the blog's been suffering. I wonder what I should be telling you. Do you want me to go back to the basics and teach how to grill and how to barbecue? Do you want to know about contests and events? Recipes? Gossip? It's beginning to feel like I've done it all before.

I hope you all had a good Fourth of July. Mine was interesting as all events with the family tend to be. My parents seem to be convinced that we're destitute as they suggested that I cook for the holiday but they would purchase the food. I tried to explain to them that there was no need for that, but they insisted. They told me to buy whatever I wanted, within reason and they would reimburse us. OK. Deal.

On July 2nd, my daughter and I were shopping and noticed that porterhouse steaks were on sale for $4.49 a pound. That's a great price around here, so I called my mother and asked if she and my father wanted steak for dinner. She told me that my father had already purchased chicken. Wait a minute. They told me to buy the food and they'd reimburse me. Good thing I called.

OK says I. Chicken it is. That's fine with me as grilled chicken is one of my favorite meals. I hang up and continue shopping. My father calls as we're checking out and tells my daughter that we should buy the steaks. Since we're done shopping I tell myself that I'll come buy the steaks tomorrow.

We go home, unpack the groceries and settle in and I get to thinking. It's July 2nd and I saw maybe ten packages of steak in the case. I doubt they'll be restocking before the fourth, so I should buy the steaks tonight. I walk back to the store and find that my concerns were well founded as they only have two packages of steak left. One looked great, the other not so much. I call my father and explain that I could only purchase 3 steaks and ask if he could buy three more where he lives, which is about 45 miles away from me. He says OK and we're all set for the holiday.

The holiday arrives and I'm thumbing through an old cookbook called Grilling With Chef George Hirsch (1994 - Hearst Books) and I discover his recipe for Porterhouse Marinade.
Perfect. I have all the ingredients on hand. This is Kismet. Looking further through the book he calls for serving the grilled and marinaded porterhouse steaks with a "Savory Bourbon Sauce."
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 steak sauce (I used 3 parts A1 and and 1 part Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (I used Knob Creek)
  • 1/4 cup honey (I used Billie Bee)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (I used a yellow one)
So with my game plan set, I make the marinade and set the 3 steaks I have into the bath and I make the bourbon sauce. I think to myself, that this is great. I'll have 3 steaks that are marinaded and 3 that aren't. Everyone will be happy.

My parents arrive with bags of chicken breast. It must have been about 15 pounds of chicken. What? Where's the steak? My mother explains that she'd like a piece of chicken and since it was already purchased they'd bring it over anyway. She then tells me that my brother has the steaks and he's marinading them. She then adds, "I hope you didn't marinade your steak. I hate steaks that have been marinaded." Great.

Now you may remember my son is a vegetarian. I ask him what he wants for dinner and he tells me that he wants grilled portabello mushrooms, but don't marinade them. He wants them plain.
OK. Whatever. It saves me a step, but I'm beginning to wonder about all this marinade paranoia. What did a marinade ever do to anything except make it better?

My parents also arrived with 3lbs of potato salad, 3 lbs of coleslaw and 3 lbs of macaroni salad. How many people are we planning to feed here?

So my brother arrives and he has this huge bowl full of porterhouse and rib eye steaks. I ask him why so many and he tells me that my parents told him that we have no food and they needed to bring everything. He emptied out their freezer. Huh? Oh yeah, destitute.

So I grill up the steaks, with my 3 we had 10 steaks for six people. They were all pretty good, with my brother's marinade being a traditional teriyaki and salt marinade (boy they love their salt at home) and mine using Chef Hirsch's marinade as mentioned earlier in this long and rambling post. The porterhouse steaks were huge. They filled a 10" plate and were at least 1 1/2" thick. The rib eyes held their own as well. It was an embarrassment of riches.

The porterhouse marinade was pretty good adding a nice touch of heat from the Tabasco and a nice level of complexity from the steak sauces and Worcestershire. But the Savory Bourbon sauce was awful. All you could taste was bourbon and lemon. Ugh. Thank God I served it on the side otherwise some good meat would have been ruined. The un-marinaded portabello mushrooms tasted like a grilled mushroom. OK, but nothing special and half of them were left uneaten.

As dinner progressed and everyone was stuffing their faces my mother casually mentioned that my father may have either lung cancer or pneumonia. And how was your day?

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