Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding

There is no dessert out there, that screams bbq, better than banana pudding. If you go to any hardcore bbq joint in the south they will have a banana pudding. It is a great dessert that is cool, refreshing and balances out the smoke of the main dish. So I decided that I had to have an awesome banana pudding in my repertoire. This banana pudding is amazing and I hope that you get a chance to make it for yourself.

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Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Nothing goes with barbecue like a good ole Macaroni and Cheese.  I have been trying forever to come up with a super creamy macaroni and cheese that I could serve with my barbecue.  I think that I have finally found the perfect recipe.  This recipe is simple, delicious and extremely creamy.  It is basically the best macaroni and cheese that I have ever had.

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Sam’s Club BBQ Tour Richmond

Sam’s Club BBQ Tour Richmond

Sam's Club BBQ Richmond

This past weekend I competed in the Sam’s Club BBQ Tour, in Richmond.  It was a great contest that was close to home.  This year we have had a slow start in the competition circuit.  Our scores have been pretty consistent in ribs and pork.  Our brisket has been horrible and my chicken has been all over the board.  However, this time our ribs and pork were not great and we received two calls in brisket and chicken.  I guess that is just the way it is.

The Set Up

Our new setup is great as everything is on a single trailer.  It makes setup and break down super easy.

The Traeger

We have also added a traeger pellet smoker to the arsenal.  It is great for heating up and setting sauces.  Plus it makes awesome ribs.

Overall we were 17th out of 29 teams.  Not as good as we had hoped but not too shabby in the field of amazing competitors.

Chicken was our best category.  We were 7th out of 29.  This was our best showing of the day. This was a huge improvement over our sub-par scores from the past three competitions.

Ribs we placed 15th out of 29 teams.  Not horrible but way worse than our previous competitions.  Our ribs have been great this year and it was odd seeing them being middle of the pack.

Pork we placed 26 out of 29 teams.  This was our worst category by far.  We have been doing really well in pork.  Not quite sure what happened.  I guess the judges just didn’t like the flavor.  Gonna have to try out a few different options on the traeger.

Brisket we placed 10th out of 29 teams.  This was our best brisket showing ever!  We scored 164.5.  Not amazing, but awesome compared to our less than stellar scores from the past three comps.  We have finally determined the secrets to amazing comp brisket. Can’t wait for the next contest.

The Team

Overall it was a great contest.  The location was awesome and the caliber of teams was excellent.  In a tough crowd we held our own. Quite proud of that.  Thanks again to Bill Duffin for helping out.  Could not have done it without his help.

Rex

New BBQ Smoker and Trailer

New BBQ Smoker and Trailer

BBQ Setup

Over the off season, I decided to upgrade from the Lang 84 to a more consistent smoker.  The Lang was great, but it was a lot of work to keep the temperatures steady.  I did a bunch of research and finally settled on a gravity feed smoker.  Basically you fill up the charcoal chamber and then it auto feeds the charcoal as needed.  I ended up buying a Superior Smokers SS1.  It is a large smoker, but actually the exact size needed to do a whole competition on a single smoker.

Superior SS1

As you can see from the pictures I have the smoker bolted onto a trailer that also includes a stainless steel prep table, sink and the all important water heater.  I set up a single EZ-Up over the whole trailer and everything needed to compete is right on the trailer.  No need to pack a car full extras.  This puppy holds it all.

Behind the scenes

I finally had a chance to break it out and set it all up at Pork in the Park in Salisbury, MD.

Pork In The Park 2013 is over and we had a so-so showing.
We finished 44th overall out of 106 teams – Not too Shabby!
Chicken 28th
Ribs 17th
Pork 73rd
Brisket 74th

The Setup

Chicken and Ribs were great but unfortunately we tanked Pork and Brisket. I was surprised by Pork, as it has been our strongest category with a 160+ usually. However, I was not too surprised by the brisket, as we have never been that great at it. Haha. Need to work on that. Special thanks to Billy and Bill for helping out. Need to go back to the drawing board regarding Brisket. Hopefully it will be ready before Fredericksburg BBQ Jamboree.

Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour – Medford, NY

Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour – Medford, NY

Sam's Club BBQ Tour Reserve Grand Champion

I must say that I felt really good going into this contest on Long Island.  I reviewed all of my previous contests, tweaked all of my recipes and went in with high hopes.  We had a great cook.  Although it rained all night and we almost ran out of wood, we made it.  Bill and Billy were right on the fire.  We had a nice steady temperature throughout the whole cook.  Not an easy feat, especially when it was raining.  But the team did great.  We ended up with Reserve Grand Champion and an entry into the Sam’s Club Regional in Chesapeake, Virginia.

To start it was a nice contest.  It was small, efficiently ran and a delight to compete in.  When I pulled in on Friday morning, I ended up getting a nice spot only about 100-150 feet from the turn in tent.  This meant that we did not have to hurry or rush with out turn-in boxes.  Plus, it allowed us to be able to hand in the hottest food possible.

Chicken – 3rd out of 24

This was a wild card in my book.  I picked up the chicken from a market in Queens, so I was uncertain about how it would work out.  Further, I tweaked my chicken sauce based on the results from my earlier competitions.  Come to find out, the chicken was a winner, Literally!   It was moist, tender and had a great chicken flavor.  It was definitely the best chicken of the season.  The Judges totally agreed.  We ended up with 3rd place in chicken.  This was our first top five call ever as Rex’s Red Hot BBQ.  It was also our first trophy ever!  It was a blast.

3rd Place Chicken

Ribs – 4th out of 24

I knew we had great ribs.  We tweaked them for our last contest in Louisa, VA and ended up with a 6th place.  We were right on track.  I did a slight tweak this time around that was well received.  We ended up getting 4th place.  Although we did not receive a trophy, we did get a nice little check.  Not too shabby.  This was our second top five call.  Needless to say we were on cloud 9.

Pork – 2nd out of 24

This was our best category of the day.  After an erroneous attempt to improve upon my recipe in Louisa, I went back to my recipe from Annapolis that got us a 6th place call.  This time, I did a slight tweak to my sauce and hit another home run.  Our third top 5 call and second trophy of the contest.  Nothing could ruin this contest.

2nd Place Pork

Brisket – 9th out of 24

Brisket has been our worst category in every contest.  I just haven’t been able to dial it in.  However, I feel as if I am on the right track.  We had a great contest and received a call in brisket for the first time.  After returning to the audience after the pork call, I heard ninth place, Rex’s Red Hot.  At this point in time I felt we were going to do well overall, as we were one of only a few teams to get four calls.

Overall – 2nd out of 24 teams

They called all of the teams from 6th place on, and we ended up receiving 2nd place overall.  We got a sweet Reserve Grand Champion Trophy and an entry into the Sam’s Club Regional Contest in Chesapeake, Virginia.  Can’t wait to head to Chesapeake to see if we can repeat these results and get an entry into the Sam’s Club finals.

The Team Pic
From left to right: Billy, Bill, Rex.

We had a blast and are very happy that we had such a great cook.  I would like to thank Bill and Billy for being there and being a crucial part of the success.   Without them, I probably would have been disqualified for not handing food in.  Although the weather did not cooperate, we pulled everything together for the best cook of the season.  I can’t wait to compete in Chesapeake.

Naptown BarBAYq – The Results Show

Naptown BarBAYq – The Results Show

Well I have finally rested and had a chance to go over my results for the Naptown BarBAYq.  Overall it was a great showing.  We finished tied for 11th overall.  Not bad at all. This was a great contest situated in Annapolis Maryland near the Chesapeake Bay.  Don Chomas was the man there.  He ran a great contest.

Once again.  Here is a pic of our camp.  Nothing fancy, just enough to be comfortable and get all of the categories out.

DSC_0970

The Team

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This time around the team consisted of my Father-in-law Bill, my brother-in-law Billy and myself.  Our little helper was my son Liam.  He loves bbq, even without teeth.

Results

Chicken

We ended up 11th out of 41 teams in chicken.  We were just 6 tenths of a point out of the running for a top ten call.  It was a great showing.  When we turned it in, we thought it was a good showing but not a great one.  As it turns out we were right. The scores were good, 161.5 out of a possible 180.  We were really pleased with the outcome and will continue to cook chicken in the same manner.

Ribs

This may have been out best category during our first competition in Salisbury, it was not so good for us this go around.  We ended up 23rd out of 41 teams.  Being in the bottom half sucks.  This is definitely something that we have to work on to be more consistent.  Not sure what to do, but we will have to figure it out.

Pork

This was the best category for us.  We ended up 7th out of 41 teams.  We got called, went up on stage and got our 7th place ribbon.  Although it was only a ribbon, it was our first call ever.  It was super exciting.  Check out the photo below.  We were super pumped.  I couldn’t believe it.  This was our worst category in out first competition and it turned out to be our best here.  We were blown away.

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Brisket

Our downfall and the reason we were 11th overall and not in the top 10 was our brisket.  With a sweet 25th out of 41 teams we have proven once again that we need to work on our brisket.  To be honest our flat was super thin and we had to pull it super early.  However, I think it was perfect.  Our downfall was burnt ends.  I had a gut feeling that we should have left out the burnt ends, and it probably would have saved us from this horrible finish.  Next time I will go with my gut.  Who knows, maybe we could get a top 10 call.

Overall

Overall we did great.  Tied for 11th overall is a great result.  Granted we would love a top ten finish, but we are moving up with every contest.  Can’t wait for the next one. I want to thank my Father-in-law (Bill) and my Brother-in-law (Billy) for coming out and sacrificing their weekend for the team.

Pork in the Park – Results

Pork in the Park – Results

This was the first contest that Rex’s Red Hot BBQ has ever competed in.  It was a great time. Sandy and the crew over at Pork in the Park throw a great contest.  This was no little contest either.  There were 113 different teams competing.  I could have chosen an easier contest for the first one, but I wanted to go big or go home.

Our Camp

Here was our little camp.  It does not require that much stuff to bbq.  We had the smoker, a tent, a cooler, a couple tables, and some zero gravity chairs (to get some sleep).

We had a great time.  We were surrounded by awesome teams.  To our left was U Needa BBQ (DJ and Greg doing it up), behind us was Philly Underhogs (Alex, Top ten Chicken) and to the right was Huck’s Huck (Huck and Huck Jr.).  It was a great contest.

Results

Chicken

We ended up 28th out of 113 teams in chicken.  Not too bad for our first go around.  We were really happy with the results.  However, the score sheet was a little weird.  We had 5 judges that gave us all 8’s and 9’s and we had one judge that gave us 5’s and 6’s.  A little weird.  To rub some salt in the wounds, the judge wrote a comment card saying the chicken was raw.  I am calling BS on that one.  It cooked for 2-3 hours.  Plus, it is hard to believe that 5 out 6 judges thought the chicken was amazing even though it was raw.  BS.  I am going to go with that judge had no idea what was going on and prefers his/her chicken like leather.

Ribs

This was our best category.  We ended up 25th out of 113 teams.  We had great presentation and flavor.  A few of the judges did not like the texture, but we did get two 9’s for texture.  This one was a wash.  There were two judges that gave us 9’s, two gave us 8’s and two gave us 7’s.  Not sure what to do to improve this one.  We got some great scores and it is hard to see where we needed improvement.

Pork

By far this was our worst category.  We ended up 77th out of 113 teams.  Not at the bottom, but pretty close.  Our major problem here was that we over-cooked the meat.  I tried a new presentation that was a hit, but our flavor and texture scores were horrible. We did our best to try to mask the over-cooked meat, but it did not work.  Next time we need to pull the pork from the smoker earlier.

Brisket

We thought we did awesome in brisket.  The pull was nice, the burnt ends were fabulous and the presentation was spot on.  However, there were some amazing cooks out there.  We ended up 45th out of 113 teams.  Still in the top half.  The scores were good all around.  The problem was that we did not receive great scores.  The major problem here is that I think we cooked the brisket a little past perfect and it started to toughen up.  When we pulled it from the smoker it was perfect. However, after resting, cutting, and boxing, I think it got a tad bit tough.  Sucks, but we still did awesome!  Hell we beat some amazing teams.

Overall

Overall we ended up 39th out of 113 teams.  That is awesome for our first cook ever.  I want to thank my Dad (Don) and my Brother-in-law (Billy) for coming out and sacrificing their weekend for the team.  We can’t wait to cook again.  Our next contest is the barBAYq in Annapolis, MD (May 4-5).  Should be a fun contest.  Hopefully we can take some of what we learned during Pork in the Park and make our next contest a winner.

My new Venture – Rex’s Red Hot BBQ

My new Venture – Rex’s Red Hot BBQ

Over the past three years I have been competing with the Pork Barrel BBQ competition team.  However, last year I moved to Richmond and started a family.  Since I am not available for all of the contests and my new locale is farther away, I decided it was time to move on and compete on my own.  That way I could compete in competitions that fit into my schedule and are closer to my new house.  I picked up a smoker, compiled a crack crew of bbq enthusiasts (Family) and started practicing.

A little Q & A:

How did I get the Name?

I wanted a funny name, but Dana said that I should utilize the great name that my parents gave me.  I agreed.  Then we started to think up names.  I liked Rex BBQ, but it was a tad bit vanilla.  Dana said “Rex’s Red Hot” and it was it.  Rex’s Red Hot just rolled off the tongue.  It was the perfect name.

Where did you get the Logo?

A family friend who is an amazing graphic artist designed it for us.  Catherine Callari does great work. Check out her website for more.

http://www.catherinecallari.com

What am I gonna cook on?

I picked up a Lang 84 smoker on craigslist.  It needed a little work and a good cleaning but I ended up with a great smoker. I have done a ton of practice smokes and I feel as if I have it dialed in.

The Lang 84

Who is on my team?

Family of course.  It will consist of myself (Rex), my father (Don), my father-in-law (Bill) and my brother-in-law (Billy).  We are ready to compete.  We have been training by doing 12oz curls.  We are ripped!  Haha.

Where is the first competition?

Our first competition will be Pork in the Park in Salisbury, MD.

How do I find out more about Rex’s Red Hot BBQ?

This is gonna be a fantastic year.  I hope that we do well in the competitions, but in the end it is going to be fun.  I hope to be posting some pics of giant trophies and cardboard checks in the near future.

-Rex

Pork in the Park

Pork in the Park

I just signed up for Pork in the Park in Salisbury, MD.  I haven’t been to this competition in a couple of years and am looking forward to it being the first competition for Rex’s Red Hot BBQ.

This competition also includes the Smithfield Rib Challenge.  The Smithfield Rib Super Series is a points chase competition across 10 KCBS sanctioned events with bonus money payouts for the top three finishers at each competition event and the top three finishers overall. After registering, teams participating in the Smithfield Rib Super Series will receive four complimentary racks of Smithfield Ribs to experiment with or use during the competition. Teams who wish to participate in the points chase will receive points based upon their finishing position at their best four events of the series. The three qualifying teams with the highest point total overall will win bonus Grand prize money.

Hope to win out and get a big payday!

Great Barbecue Weekend

Great Barbecue Weekend

This past weekend I competed with Pork Barrel BBQ at the Safeway National BBQ Championship in the heart of Washington, DC.  We had a blast.  We cooked chicken and brisket on Saturday and Ribs and Pork on Sunday.  We had a great showing.  Read below to see the results.

After turn ins on Saturday they tallied the votes for the Perdue National Chicken Champion competition and we won.

Winning the Purdue Chicken National Championship

Yeah that is Heath, Brett, Mr. Perdue and myself.  It was awesome seeing Mr. Perdue, I love his commercials.

We had to wait in suspense to see how we did in the rest of the categories.  At 7 PM on Sunday they gathered up all of the competitors and gave out the awards.

First in Chicken

We ended up winning the Grand Champion, beating 41 other top BBQ teams.  We took 1st Place Chicken, 5th Place Ribs, 7th Place Pork and 5th Place Brisket.  We also won 3rd in the pork board championship that tallied the scores from Pork and Ribs.  It was a lot of fun.

We won it all
I don’t know if you can tell, but the Grand Champion Trophy is about 7 feet tall.  It towered over me.  The whole trophy didn’t fit into the picture.
The best part about this win, is that it includes an automatic invitation to two of the top prestigious contests on the professional barbecue competition circuit – the American Royal World Series of Barbecue Invitational Contest in Kansas City, Missouri and the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational in Lynchburg, Tennessee.
A giant cardboard check
Yeah that is me holding a giant cardboard check.  I have always wanted to get one of those.
Awesome!

2nd Annual Middletown, DE Barbeque Cook-Off!

2nd Annual Middletown, DE Barbeque Cook-Off!

Yesterday I cooked with Pork Barrel BBQ in the Second annual Middletown Delaware Barbecue Cook-Off.  We ended up winning Reserve Grand Champion.  It came with some nice trophies.  Besides winning the large trophy we also came away with a second in Pork Shoulder, fifth place in Brisket, ninth in Chicken and twentieth in Ribs.  Heath, Brett and I had a great time.  It was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, I am a little tired from all of the driving, so this post is going to be rather short.

Reserve Grand Champion

Rex’s Steak Rub

Rex’s Steak Rub

When you have a good steak, all you really need is salt and pepper. However, we can’t always have amazing steak lying around. So sometimes you need to season your steak to improve on its natural flavor. So I have been fiddling around with different seasonings and have found a great combinations of spices. The key to this rub is the smoked paprika. It adds a nice smoky layer to the steak. In addition a little cayenne adds just a bit of heat.

Rex’s Steak Rub

  • 1 tbs smoked paprika
  • 1 tbs crushed black pepper
  • 1 tbs kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbs granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tbs granulated onion
  • 1/2 tbs crushed coriander
  • 1/2 tbs dill
  • 1/2 tbs crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

Mix all of the ingredients together

I find that an old spice container works great as a storage container.

Reduce, reuse and recycle

To use, sprinkle your steaks with the seasoning and grill to perfection.

Rub and grill

I use this recipe all of the time.  I find that it produces a great steak.

Grilled steak

Enjoy

-Rex