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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.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Good Bye Willie B.

Some sad news to report...

Willie B's Long Island's Award winning Barbecue and Catering is closing on Tuesday. Well, the restaurant is closing, but Will will still be catering and selling his award winning sauces and rubs on the net.

If you're anywhere near Bayshore, Long Island be sure to stop in this weekend. Willie B's will be going out in style with a huge bash in the parking lot. Lots of food. BYOB.

Wilie B's will be missed.

Photo of Will Breakstone courtesy of Pig Trip.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

There, There's a Place

Where I can go
When I feel low
When I feel blue

I've got some exciting news for you folks. There's a new Southside or Kreuz rising in Bayside Queens! What are Southside and Kreuz you ask? Well, they're two of the legendary Texas Hill Country barbeque joints that every true barbecue aficionado needs to visit before he/she dies.

And one is rising in Bayside Queens? In New York City? How is that possible?

Well, it's a long and winding road, but nothing's impossible in NYC. Southside and Kreuz began as butcher shops and added barbecue sometime way back in their evolution to feed the migrant workers who came in for lunch. As time progressed the barbecue surpassed the butcher shop and pushed the fresh meat to the side. Actually, if I remember correctly, only Southside still has a butcher counter. Kreuz gave theirs up decades ago. It's a great story and if you want to read more about the evolution of Texas barbecue, check out Legends of Texas Barbecue by Robb Walsh. It's a good read and highly recommended.

But how is legendary Texas barbecue rising in Queens? Well, ya see, there's this guy, Chef Tom as he's called on their website. He and his brothers own a butcher shop called Three Brothers Butcher which is located at 40-21 Bell Blvd, in Bayside, NY right up the road from the train station. Chef Tom and his unnamed brothers run an old fashioned butcher shop that sells prime meat, deli meats, does some catering and sells real honest to goodness dyed in the wool barbecue. Unlike the the tepid copies or homages of the Texas markets in other parts of New York City, this is the real thing. A butcher who loves his barbeque and doesn't need to emulate anyone.

Yup, real barbecue. And it's pretty good. Chef Tom made me a BLT with some double smoked thick cut bacon that was just incredible. It's not always available, and its not on his menu, but trust me this bacon is worth the wait. Ask for it. Demand it! It's easily the best smoked bacon I've had in New York City. And don't tell me bacon isn't barbecue. Was sausage barbeque before it became a staple in the Texas Hill Country?

His brisket was excellent. Eating this I could understand some people's love for this cut of meat.

But like Kreuz and Southside, before they became Kreuz and Southside, Chef Tom's barbecue is still evolving. The smoked hot Italian sausage was nothing special and his pulled pork suffers from the fact that he doesn't have a holding pit and he microwaves the meat prior to serving it. In my eyes that fact would usually condemn a barbeque joint as just a hack, but talking with Chef Tom and seeing the love of the Q in his eyes, I'm willing to overlook it for now. He tells me that he is planning on taking out one of his cold cases and putting in a holding pit ala Fette Sau.

Talking with Tom was an experience. Clearly, this man loves his barbecue and is still learning the art. He is working his way through the New York barbecue scene and absorbing what the other folks are doing. As he learns and discovers new methods and recipes he's adjusting how he cooks. I would recommend he visit a few competitions as well. He could learn much from the teams.

A quick edit, based on an email from Gary, Three Brothers does have some limited seating and they serve their food on real plates with silverware.

Will Three Brothers approach the legendary status of Kreuz or Southside? Will Three Brothers create a new New York style of Que? I don't know, it's still too early to tell, but I will be watching the evolution closely and cheering from the sidelines. Go check him out.

Three Brothers Butcher BBQ on Urbanspoon

All photos courtesy of Three Brothers Butcher.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Jets Tailgating Contest

This came into my in-box today. Any Jets fans out there?

2008 JI Tailgating Contest
By Jets Insider.com Staff

August 28th, 2008

Does your tailgate party kick ass? We want to hear about it!
Does your tailgate party kick ass? We want to hear about it!
Do you feel you have the best tailgate party at the Meadowlands? If you do, Jets Insider.com wants to hear about it.

If your convince us that your party ranks with the best, you could get a visit from us and be featured in a video about your soiree on JI.

We will visit a different tailgate party each home gameday this season and at the end of the year the the fans will vote and crown the 2008 NY Jets Tailgating Kings and your party will win VERY COOL PRIZES!!!

For more details and the list of prizes, CLICK HERE


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yeah, I've Had That

OK, here's my Americanized take on Andrew at Very Good Taste's Omivore's Hundred. What makes this an Americanized take? Well, I'm an American and I can step out my door right now and buy most of these things.

I'm afraid that mine isn't as exotic as Andrew's, but I'm surprised by how many of what I consider everyday foods, aren't. Not to say I eat these foods all the time, but each has crossed my table. I'm also not listing foods that are only available in one location, with the exception of Brooklyn pizza.

I'm going to steal some text from Very Good Taste right now. Why not? I stole his idea.

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here or at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The WhiteTrash BBQ Omnivore's Hundred:
  1. Tomato Soup Cake
  2. Turducken
  3. Chicken Feet
  4. Sauerbraten
  5. Limburger Cheese
  6. Asian Pears
  7. Ham Hocks
  8. Ghee
  9. Corn Bread
  10. Buffalo Mozzarella
  11. Florida Stone Crabs
  12. Som Tum
  13. Oxtails
  14. Sundried Tomatoes
  15. Beef Jerkey
  16. Tongue
  17. Calves Liver
  18. Shoofly pie
  19. Pulled Pork
  20. Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting
  21. Bison
  22. Persimmons
  23. Monk Fish
  24. Hoja Santa Cheese
  25. Whoopee pie
  26. Peking Duck
  27. Sopa de Ajo - Castilian Garlic Soup
  28. Pistolettes
  29. Naan
  30. Country Ham
  31. Jambalaya
  32. Anchovies
  33. Black and White Cookies
  34. Chives
  35. Potato Pancakes
  36. Boudain
  37. Macoun Apples
  38. Brooklyn Pizza
  39. Star Fruit
  40. Dosa
  41. Lutefisk
  42. Rhubarb
  43. Scrapple
  44. Cuitlacoche
  45. Cherry Pierogi
  46. Kumquats
  47. Ambrosia Salad
  48. Taylor Ham
  49. Sardines
  50. Capers
  51. Dungeoness Crabs
  52. Grape Leaves
  53. Pepper Jelly
  54. Hanger Steak
  55. A just picked vine ripened Tomato still hot from the sun
  56. Stuffed Quahogs
  57. Smoked Eggs
  58. Chicken Kiev
  59. Bigos
  60. Andouille
  61. Shropshire Blue Cheese
  62. Real Moonshine
  63. Yuca
  64. Chicken Katsu
  65. Clams on the half shell
  66. Scallion Pancakes
  67. Tamales
  68. Maine Lobster
  69. Picadillo
  70. Romesco Sauce
  71. Sour Cherries
  72. Paella
  73. Gulf Shrimp
  74. Empanada
  75. Fluff
  76. Ostrich
  77. Wild Blueberries
  78. Skate
  79. Black-eyed Peas
  80. Hatch Chile Peppers
  81. Morels
  82. Water Chestnuts
  83. Massaman Curry
  84. Goose
  85. Jamon Serrano
  86. Knish
  87. Quail Eggs
  88. Gyoza
  89. Conch
  90. Rutabaga
  91. Turtle
  92. Salsify
  93. Hummus
  94. Seviche
  95. Barbecue Baby Back Ribs
  96. Parmigiano-Reggiano
  97. Pine Nuts
  98. Basmati Rice
  99. Pickled Herring
  100. Kohlrabi

Monday, August 25, 2008

What Did You Eat?

I don't usually get involved in the internet memes, but this one intrigued me. Andrew at Very Good Taste has put together a list of what he considers the 100 foods every omnivore should try. It's an interesting list and I wondered just how many of these foods I've actually tried. Boy was I surprised. The foods I've eaten are in bold/red.

Some of these foods I needed to look up, as Andrew is based in England and they eat some strange stuff over there and sometimes the names change as you cross the pond. Maybe I'll do an American version.

If you want to try this out, just copy the list below to your blog and join in. You can post your results on Andrew's blog here.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (I'll assume alligator counts.)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (I've had Cognac, but I don't smoke cigars)
37. Clotted cream tea (I've had clotted cream and I've had tea, but never together.)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Sunday, August 24, 2008

More Meat

Well, we're at the midpoint of the Hudson Valley Ribfest. Chicken's in. Ribs are in. Now it's time for the pork shoulder.

KCBS rules allow pork to be submitted chopped, pulled, sliced, or diced as the cook sees fit, as long as there is enough meat in that box for six (6) judges. That can be as little as six threads of pulled pork to an entire shoulder.

In my experience as a judge, I've seen it all and in many cases the cooks decide to submit their pork both sliced and pulled. I've always found that to be a mistake. Again, this is just my opinion and your mileage may vary, but I've found that if the pulled pork is good, the sliced pork sucked. Now that is a little harsh, but usually one of the meat variations will be better than the other one, which in turn brings down the score. I was taught to only put your best in the box and nothing less.

We cooked two very small bone in pork shoulders. With our delayed start on Saturday, it gave me Friday night at home to create the rubs, brines and injections that we'd use for the contest. I made my usual pork injection and decided to play a little and create a new one. Now my friend Matt sassed me a little about how the serious cooks don't change their tried and true recipes or techniques right before a contest, but hey, I don't do this often enough to have any tried and true recipes or techniques! Let's play!

The pork cooked over a fire of hickory and apple and sat tightly wrapped in a cooler for a couple of hours before we pulled them for presentation. My tried and true recipe pork came out flavorful but a bit dry. The new injection recipe shoulder that was rubbed with Big Daddy's Pork Rub came out moist and flavorful. Both were tossed with our doctored version of Sweet Baby Ray's and taste tested. We went with the new recipe.

And I'm glad we did. This pork gave us our highest score in contest! 9 out of 53.

Judge's scores: 766, 877, 979, 788, 799 (Thank you whomever you were!) 788

Total points: 157.7142 which gave us 9th place. YES! iQue, the first place team's points were: 169.1428. A great showing for guy who hasn't made pulled pork in almost 6 months.

Last entry in any KCBS contest is brisket. The WhiteTrash BBQ team has a real disadvantage when it comes to the brisket category. None of us particularly like brisket. Yes, I admit it. I prefer my brisket corned thank you very much. But here's an even more shocking secret. The last time I came close to bbq brisket that wasn't bought in a restaurant was at last year's Hudson Valley Ribfest and I didn't even cook that one, my buddy Mike did. Pete tells me he's never cooked a brisket!

Even in the best of circumstances brisket will always be my Achilles heel. And this was not the best of circumstances, we only had two flats to cook. In my very limited brisket cooks, I've only made flats once and that wasn't a sucess. Why would I expect it to be different this time?

We cooked our brisket over an oak and charcoal fire. Brisket is notorious for drying out as soon as it's cut so we waited until the window (the ten minute turn in period) before cutting our briskets. Both flats were tough, dried out and hard to cut. One had a little more flavor than the other so we went with that one. It was hard getting six complete slices in the box without them falling apart, but we did. Instead of the putting green of parsley presentation, I created a putting green of lettuce and laid the slices out slightly overlapping each other and basted them with a light coating of our sauce.

Let's go to the judges...

767, 977, 876, 678, 867, 778 (No disrespect, but two 8's for tenderness? What box were those judges eating from because it certainly wasn't ours!)

Total points: 140.5712 which gave us 30th place. Ya gotta be kidding. 50th place should have been more like it. iQue, once again the first place team points were: 166.2858

Sorry, but there are no pictures of the brisket. We didn't have time to take any as we barely got the box turned in before the window closed.

So that's it. My experiences this year. Overall, I'm very happy with our scores. We placed better than some teams that are out there every week, got all our meat turned in, didn't embarrass ourselves and had a good time to boot. Not bad considering I hadn't cooked on my horizontal offset smoker since the last HVRF! I don't know why, but the bbq bug was dormant in WhiteTrash world this season, but it's back with a vengeance now! See you on the circuit.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Barbeque - The Meats

I've certainly given you a lot to read about the Hudson Valley Ribfest, but I still haven't gotten to the meat of the topic - the meat! Well here goes. I'll address the chicken and ribs today. The pork shoulder and brisket will be covered tomorrow or Monday. I don't want to overload you with everything.

I know that there's another post coming about my thoughts about cooking under my own banner for the first time and I might write it tonight, but it won't be up for a few more days. I've teased you all long enough. Tonight we talk about meat.

First up - the results... WhiteTrash BBQ came in 32nd out of 53 teams. Not bad, not great and certainly encouraging enough to want us to compete more. I think we'll be back in October.

Our final score was 579.4280 out of a possible 720. iQue took top place with a score of 646.8570, so you see we have a long long way to go. Congratulations to the iQue team for another well deserved win. If you want to read more about them, check out this very interesting interview with Pitmaster Chris Hart over on PigTrip.

But back to me. First category to be judged is chicken. We cooked 24 chicken thighs for this event. Why thighs you may ask? Well thighs have a good amount of fat and are probably the most forgiving part of the chicken to cook on a smoker. Most teams in the North East cook thighs. We brined the thighs, marinated them, rubbed them with a rub I can't remember and cooked them over an apple wood, hickory and charcoal fire.

Pete did a superb job of trimming the thighs. I was surprised to see how much he knew about trimming chicken thighs. It seems that Pete was schooled by one of the best cooks on the circuit, Steve Farrin of I Smell Smoke on how to trim thighs for competition. I bet Steve doesn't even know that he taught Pete. But he did and Pete created some beautiful little footballs for us to cook. That Pete is a clever little monkey.

We pulled the chicken from the cooker and painted them with a doctored up version of Sweet Baby Ray's sauce and then we firmed it up on the fire. We selected the best looking six, arranged them as best we could in our lettuce only presentation box and handed them off to our runner, the ever lovely Mrs. Pete, Jean.

How'd they do? Here's each of the six judge's scores; the first number is for appearance, then taste and finally tenderness.

755, 888, 766, 877, 988, 956 (In case you haven't been reading previous posts, and shame on you if you haven't, scores run from 2 to 9 in KCBS contests.)

Wow - 2 perfect scores on appearance. I didn't see that coming. I didn't think they looked that good in the box and Matt Fisher of Wildwood BBQ said that they were too dark. The thighs were also on the small side. We could have easily fit another three in the box.

As for the taste, well they were pretty tasty to me but they were definitely over cooked. They weren't dry per say, but they were reaching that point of mealy mouth feel. If they cooked much longer they would have been garbage. If I was judging this chicken, my scores probably would have been closest to judge 3. Maybe even a little lower.

Total points: 140.5714 which gave us 41st place. Sexy Gino's Bare Ass BBQ, the first place team's points were: 169.1430

Next up were ribs. We did spare ribs which I trimmed down to the famous St. Louis cut. I also removed the membrane from the ribs, but I've never had so much trouble getting it off the meat. Out of the six racks of ribs I trimmed, the membrane only came off on the first shot on one rack. Each time I tried to get it off and pulled the membrane shredded. If I was at home, they would have cooked with the damn membrane on them!

We slathered these ribs with a little bit of cheap mustard and rubbed them with Blues Hog. We cooked them over a fire of hickory and cherry wood and finished them with a traditional but not mainstream sauce. I've made them this way at home and the neighbors said they were the best ribs they've ever had. Not so in New Paltz.

Unfortunately, our ribs were undercooked and a bit tough. They needed a little more time on the cooker, but time ran out for us. I thought that the ribs tasted pretty good, but the rest of the team and some visitors to the tent thought they were too spicy. I liked them, first you tasted sweet, then smoke, followed by meat and then a bit of heat. I thought the flavor was spot on and the heat just right.

What did the judges think?

677, 887, 777, 757, 666, 878

Total points: 140.0000 which gave us 40th place. Casual Smokers; the first place team's points were: 170.8572

Poor scores in every category. We need to rethink that category completely before we compete again. Sorry, we didn't get any pictures of the ribs.

This brings us to the middle of the contest and is a good place to wrap up for tonight. Tomorrow we'll talk about pork and brisket. Ya all come back now, ya hear?

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Meet the Team

OK boys and girls. It's time to get down to the brass tacks and talk about the barbecue competition.

First off - the team. I'm real excited to get this team together and finally compete under the WhiteTrash banner. I've always wanted to cook with Pete and Kevin is a great new member. All we need is my buddy Mike to join us and we'll have the team I've always envisioned.

That's me, Kevin Lincoln, the founder of the NY Barbecue Lover's Meet Up Group, and my old buddy Pete.

This was Kevin's first visit to a barbecue contest and only the second time I've met him. Kevin and Pete had never met before.

Pete and I have known each other for 30 years and we've cooked together in each others backyards but never in a competition type setting. Pete has competed with his own team The Hot Hogs at the Grill Kings and at a couple of Grillin' On The Bay events.

You have to be pretty thick skinned to be part of WhiteTrash BBQ. Pete and I have no problem getting in each other's face. If something sucks -- we say so. We don't get into niceties or social graces with each other. It all rolls off our backs as easily as it rolls off our tongues. That's not to say that we're rude or mean to each other, but we have our ways. Sarcasm rules in WhiteTrash world. It may have been a little much for Kevin. I hope we didn't scare him off.

We all had some problems getting to the contest this year. I still don't have a car, so Pete was going to pick me up on Friday afternoon and we'd drive up together. Kevin was going to meet us on Saturday morning.

Pete was supposed to arrive around 1:00pm so on Friday morning, I pull all my equipment, coolers, food,tents and cookers and put them in my driveway so that we can get it loaded into Pete's trailer and get on the road quickly. Now you have to understand, living in Brooklyn my driveway is only about a 10' x 20' piece of cement right off the sidewalk. With all my stuff in the driveway I can't leave it unattended; especially on a Friday afternoon! Friday night is when the trash is picked up and many people are out scouting the trash piles looking for treasure.

So I'm waiting for Pete. Little did I know that Pete was having his own troubles. First problem -- the trailer. Pete was borrowing the trailer from his local Boy Scout troop and the last people who had employed it left it sitting full of gear from a camping trip. Pete need to unload the trailer before he could take it.

Then he discovered that the trailer's registration had expired. A visit to Motor Vehicles was required. Now there was shopping to do. Pete had previously bought picnic hams, not shoulders and an unscheduled visit to restaurant depot was now top priority. Let's just say Pete was not having a good day.

It's now around 4:00pm and the skies of Brooklyn were getting very dark. I moved most of my equipment back into the garage just before the rain broke. Everything was in the garage except for my double door smoker. The rain wouldn't hurt it, but it sucks loading wet equipment. I'm getting worried since I haven't heard from Pete since about noon and Pete is never late. My back is complaining as well. I make sure that I pack my back brace for this trip.

Finally at 7:30 at night, I hear from Pete. He's had enough and we decide to head out to the contest in the morning. It's a good decision as it's still raining hard in Brooklyn and many of the roads are closed due to flooding. We agree to meet at 5:30 Saturday morning. I ask Pete to call me when he leaves his house, just to make sure I'm awake. I am not a morning person.

6:30 am on Saturday, my wife wakes me. About 5 minutes later Pete calls. He's just leaving his house and should be in Brooklyn in an hour. 2 hours later he finally arrives. It takes another hour to load up the trailer. We're finally on the road.

Somewhere in New Jersey, Kevin calls. Shit! With everything going on, I forgot all about him. Is he at the contest looking for us? I feel like crap, I should have sent him an email letting him know what's going on, but I didn't. "Robert, I'm sorry I'm not there yet. I'm having brake troubles and I'm at my local Meineke shop." "We're still on the road too," I tell him, "so there's nothing to worry about."

Pete and I get into New Paltz just before the event opens to the public. We unload with out any major problems, but discover that one of the pop up tents doesn't have its canopy. We decide to use an old tarp on top of the tent. The other tent smells of mildew. It really smells of mildew. Every time I go near it, I'm checking my shoes to see if I stepped in something. It's just another wrinkle in what's proving to be not exactly an auspicious start.

When we were finally finished setting up I tell you, it was a WhiteTrash site. All we needed was a car up on some concrete blocks and an old TV with a hanger for an antenna!

Wow, this is long. I apologize for not getting to the food yet. I just gotta learn to shut up. I'll talk about the food tomorrow. Till then!

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More Pictures from the Hudson Valley Ribfest

First up the legendary damn dip. It was the first time I ever tried it and it truly exceeded my expectations. Thanks Sully! Oh, and I want the recipe.Next, just a few sights from around the fair grounds...

WhiteTrash world being created...

And finally a sobering reminder to be thankful for what you've got....

Tomorrow we talk about barbecue.



Thanks to Kevin Lincoln founder of the NY BBQ Lover's Meetup Group, here are some pictures of the turduckhen we cooked on Saturday into early morning Sunday at the Hudson Valley Ribfest.

The Cajun Grocer supplied us with this magnificent bird or I guess I should say birds since a turduckhen is a semi-boneless turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck stuffed with a de-boned chicken.

Following the manufacturers and FDA's guidelines I cooked this bird to the recommended 165 degrees which in my opinion is over cooked. I(n the pictures, you can see where the heat overtook the skin in a few places. I should have pulled the bird off the cooker at 155 or so and let it rest until it reached it's proper temps. This bird was cooked over a charcoal and apple wood fire for close to 10 hours.

When I started cooking this bird, its internal temperatures registered a chilly 34 degrees!

This bird is still delicious, even a bit overcooked. Turkey, duck, chicken and two types of stuffing all meld into one incredible meal.

If you buy one of these birds, and I highly recommend that you do, remember it takes about 5 days to defrost one of these suckers in the refrigerator. Be prepared.

But also be prepared to have a fantastic and memorable meal. Every time I make one of these beasts it becomes the talk of the party.

Buy one. Now.

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I promise, there will be posts about the barbeque side of the contest, but for today it's a quick review of our apple entry at the Hudson Valley Ribfest 2008.

What you're looking at is a bourbon caramel sauce with honey roasted mixed nuts and apples in a sponge cake tart topped with vanilla icing.

It was the creation of my team mate, Pete. I had absolutely nothing to do with it except for some advice on how to place it in the box. It was absolutely delicious and I thought a sure fire winner.

How'd it do? 39th out of 44. Usually, deep down, you know when your your food deserves to win and when it should tank. This one left me scratching my bald head. If I was served this in a bakery or a restaurant I would have been one very happy WhiteTrash boy.

Looking back, I naturally begin to search for the reasons why the judges didn't like it. The first thing that pops into my head is that underneath the apple/nut mixture, Pete put in a layer of vanilla icing. With the icing on top, was that just overkill? Was it too sweet? Were the apples too tart? Did the filling melt into the sponge cake as it sat in the box making the overall dessert mushy and wet? Did the judges think that using a pre-made sponge cake shell was a cop out? Were the apples not the star of the dessert, but only a bit player? Were there too many nuts and not enough apples? Was the filling too warm/cold? Did the filling get to hard when it sat and cooled?

Who knows. We know we liked it. There's no point in second guessing it. We gave it our best shot. 39th out of 44? You take your licks and you move on. That's part of the challenge and fun of competition. You put out your best and hope the judges agree. Sometimes you grab the brass ring, others you're left grasping air.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Damn Judges!

Back from New Paltz and let me tell you, them damn judges don't know squat.

One judge had the audacity to boast about how there was nothing spectacular and that most of the food was just "OK." The nerve of that rat bastard! I thought he was my friend and to hear that the food sucked. Man, oh man, that was just too much.

Doesn't he know how much time effort and money went into preparing that food that to his "refined and educated" palette was just "OK"? Shouldn't I be rewarded with better scores simply because I cooked? Damn.

Then, another judge was pontificating on how the food this year wasn't as good as last years! WTF?

Damn judges! I may never judge again!

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Just so you all know, I want to make sure that it is perfectly clear, the above post is satire, but it is all true.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

3 Days To Go

I don't know if I'm insane or just really busy, but the Hudson Valley Ribfest is Friday and I haven't thought much about it at all. My team hasn't discussed much, but we'll be there. More later.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Let Me Take You Down

As predicted, I got taken down at the Brooklyn Chili Takedown. The kids ruled the roost, cooked up some outstanding chili and walked away with fabulous prizes.

Matt Timms, Scott Gold and all the other nameless volunteers put together a great time and what I hope what will become a Brooklyn tradition. This year's event was host to 25 very different chilis and included a very odd, in a good and unique way, dessert chili that was cold and filled with chocolates and various fruits.

But for me, it was a lot of fun putting together my take of Brunswick Stew using lamb, veal, grass fed beef, yard bird, chorizo, beans and chilies to create a new never before realized, let alone tasted Brunswick Chili!

It's been a long time since I just made something from the top of me head without any true idea of how I wanted it to taste when I'm done. I wanted chili, but what the hell is chili now days?

I took some Le Cense grass fed beef for kabobs and rubbed them with a ancho chili based rub and smoked them over apple wood. I took a yard bird and left it naked and threw that into the smoker too.

Next came a lamb shank that was rubbed with a version of the rub that the Hampton Smoker and I created for the legendary Baron of BBQ, Paul Kirk. And then, just cause I had it in the freezer, a veal shank. Now that veal wasn't a second class citizen, but it only received a sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. All the meats spent some time in the smoke, some over apple, some over hickory.

I took some Goya hot chorizo and diced it up. I sweated the chorizo meat to get some really nice grease and removed the meat from the pot. To the hot spicy Mexican grease I added some onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic and sweated those bad boys.

I deglazed the pot with some vinegar, added a mix of chili peppers, chicken broth, water, tomatoes (fresh from the garden and canned) and a bunch of spices and various hot sauces. I can't give you a run down on this cause I was pulling stuff from the pantry shelves, sniffing it and adding it to the pot if it smelt right. There was no recipe here friends. Whatever fell out of the cabinet and into my hand wound up in the pot. I love cooking this way.

I sliced up the cubes of beef, shredded the chicken, chorizo, veal and lamb and added it all into the now very crowded largest pot I own. Brunswick stew usually includes corn and Lima beans, but since this was a chili interpretation, they were put aside in favor of red kidney beans, northern white beans and black beans which went into the pot long after the meats.

As everything cooked, the meats and vegetables were beginning to all meld into each other becoming unrecognizable in and of themselves. That's what I would be looking for as in a traditional Brunswick stew, all ingredients become one. But this is a chili, that's not completely what I want. With only about 2 hours to go I decided to add another 1 1/2 lbs of ground meat to the pot. I seasoned this meat and browned it off in butter and olive oil in a cast iron frying pan and added it to the chili.

After about an hour, some last minute seasoning adjustments and liquid additions it was time to get on the train and head to ultra hip Williamsburg with my creation. I really liked this chili. It had some great mouth feel and even with all the ingredients in the pot you could still taste the beef, lamb and chicken. You could even taste the beans. And the after burn was fantastic; not too hot but definitely hot enough. On the train, I thought I might actually have a chance.

Walking into the contest area, I realized something; I'm an old fuck. My cooler, Oscar that transported and stored the chili, which I bought when I was in high school, was older than most of the people in the room. I had the originals of many of the shirts that were being worn by the hipsters. Hell, I even shave!

At the end of the evening, Matt called all the judges and contestants on stage as he announced the winners. Sorry folks, I don't remember your names, but we all got to explain what we cooked and why.

It was a great rush when I got my chance to introduce my Brunswick Chili to the audience and they cheered. I don't know where I placed in the rankings, but judging from the audience response I had to be in the top. At least that's how my ancient ears heard it. That and there wasn't any of my chili left in the pan.

There were a lot of sweet chilis at this event, but the winner was a traditional Texas Red, a secret family recipe that the chef reconstructed and improved for the NY crowd. I have to say was much better than my reconstruction and improvement for the NY crowd. From what I remember, that Texas Red deserved to win.

As I and all the chefs were making our way off the stage a couple of people grabbed me and told me that they really enjoyed my chili and thought it was fantastic. That's all I needed to hear. I'm a very happy old fuck.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Knife Skills

Every time I watch a cooking show where there's a real honest to goodness chef in front of the camera I am always a bit envious of their knife skills. It amazes me how quickly they wield their knives with precision and economy. I want to be able to do that too.

Towards that end, I picked up a copy of Mastering Knife Skills - The Essential Guide to the Most Important Tools in Your Kitchen by Norman Weinstein. This massive book takes you through every technique using a knife in a kitchen. It's beautifully illustrated and comes with its own DVD.

Aquiring knife skills will give you a quiet confidence; quoting Pablo Casals, Weinstein cautions, "The most perfect technique is that which is not noticed at all." I want that.

While I'm still working through this book, my biggest discovery is that I'm not that bad. I know a lot more than I give myself credit for. I know how to cut, dice, fillet, french etc, but I'm no where near as fast as I want to be. The speed will come from repetition. I just need to do more of this. Practice, Practice, Practice!

So far the biggest lesson I've had knocked into my thick head is the same lesson that I've heard from every chef I've ever spoken to about knives.... "A sharp knife is essential and a dull knife is dangerous." My knives are dull, but not for long. I'm learning how to sharpen, hone and properly care for my knives. It's very Zen.

Do you have dull knives but don't have the skills to sharpen them yourself? Don't fret. There are some fine folks who will do it for you. Here's a list of places from the book where you can get your knives sharpened.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Brooklyn Chili Take Down

I'm going to be competing Sunday night at the Brooklyn Chili Take Down.

I don't know why I'm going to compete in a chili contest. I haven't made chili in a dog's age but something in me tells me that this contest will be fun. I've got the genesis of a chili recipe in my head and it's nothing I've ever tried before, but it will contain grass fed La Cense Beef amongst other things. I hope it will be good as I debate how "traditional" I'm going to stay.

So come on out on Sunday, August 10 at 5:00 PM to Union Pool at 484 Union Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and watch this WhiteTrash BBQ boy get his ass kicked. $10 gets you in the door and all the chili you can eat.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

BBQ Events: North Fork Craft Beer, BBQ and Wine Festival

Are you anywhere near Long Island's north fork? Looking for something to do Sunday? Here's where I'd like to be...

North Fork Craft Beer, BBQ and Wine Festival – Brews and barbeque is quintessential summer grub. This outdoor extravaganza adds live rock and pop music and cooking demos to the mix. Tickets cost $50 online, $70 at the door or $75 for a V.I.P. ticket, which allows for an extra hour to meet the brewers and taste special beers

The event will showcase the finest craft breweries – 50 in all – from across the country and will pair them with outstanding BBQ prepared by Maple Tree BBQ and award-winning wines from Martha Clara Vineyards (The Entenmann's Family Farm)

North Fork Craft Beer, BBQ and Wine Festival
August 9, 2008 from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Martha Clara Vineyards, Jamesport, NY

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Judges Needed

Hey all you fine folks out in Utah. Ever want to judge a barbecue contest? Well, this weekend is your chance.

The Fire Water Ice Festival held in Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center, Kearns, Utah this weekend is looking for judges. This contest is not sanctioned by KCBS, but will run KCBS style. So even if you're not certified barbecue judge, you will be welcome here.

The contest runs August 8 and 9th, but the judging takes place from noon to 2:00pm on August 9th. Send and email to Joe Ferguson over at the Utah BBQ Society and he'll set you up.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008


Hey boys and girls, Blogger was down for the count for a few days and nothing could be posted. Well, we're back now and it's a new week.

It seems like my post about judging Harpoon has raised a few eyebrows and bunched up some panties. I just wish that the conversations and comments would happen here and not on other BBQ boards. Post your comments where I can see them folks.

This happens whenever I post opinions about my experiences judging or competing. One member of one of the teams threatened to file a complaint with KCBS because after judging I was "boasting how "poor" the food was and how everyone presented the same "Taste" ? and in light of this decided that the scores would reflect what he thought was a poor overall effort."

What I find really interesting about this comment is that when I was "boasting" last year about how great the food was at Harpoon, no one complained. Ain't that always the case?

I take my judging responsibilities seriously. I judge the food from 9 to 2 based upon the rules and my training as a judge. I judge it as I see it and taste it. If you could look at my score cards from Harpoon, my scores ranged from 9 to 5. Everyone got a fair shake. Talking with the other judges at my table we were pretty much in agreement with what was good and what was "poor."

The whiny cooks really piss me off and I get tired of all the whining and scape goating. If your team didn't do well look at the food, don't blame the judges. I don't like giving a low score or getting one when I compete. But if I get a low score, I suck it up and put the blame where it belongs, on me.

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