Best In Smoke

Thanksgiving Dinner Southern Style – Pies

Chris Lilly of world famous Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, AL is talking turkey, well actually pies – grilled pies.  Chris is fresh off his appearance on Best in Smoke on the Food Network and winning Grand Champion at the 2011 Memphis in May but he was nice enough to chat with me about all things Thanksgiving Southern Style.  He was also nice enough to give me a couple of recipes for his amazing grilled pies and one for grilled turkey.  What a guy.  The recipes are below the Q&A.

Chris Lilly Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-QHow has your appearance on Best in Smoke effected your business?

I never realized how many people watched Food Network until I did the series Best in Smoke. This show was different because you not only had barbecue enthusiasts watching it but people who just love food in general. We could instantly see a spike in sales both at our restaurant and on our website. The good thing is that most were new customers who were trying Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q for the first time.

What are your memories of Thanksgiving growing up?

Most of my Thanksgiving memories are traditional.  Growing up in a large family meant an overflowing Thanksgiving dinner table with all of the traditional food such as; turkey, ham, dressing, cranberry salad, green beans, black eyed peas, cornbread, mashed potatoes and gravy.  It was a relaxing time with nothing on the agenda but food!

What is Thanksgiving like at the Lilly household today?

Thanksgiving today is a little more hectic.  With two kids in college and extended family spread out across Northern Alabama it takes a little holiday magic to get everyone together for the family dinner.  Sometimes I even have to eat two Thanksgiving meals in one day to make sure we get to all the family dinner parties!  Don’t feel sorry for me.

It seems that my charcoal grill is always hot around Thanksgiving, personally I like to fire up with Kingsford Charcoal. Now I’m the default turkey and ham cooker for the holiday. I always like to throw in an extra surprise for the meal like grilled cranberries to make a more flavorful sauce.

What is your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner?

Without a doubt my favorite part about Thanksgivings past and future is family. The chance to spend the day catching up around the charcoal grill in the backyard and the dinner table is something I look forward to the most. Thanksgiving is a happy time for my family and what better way to enjoy it than cooking and eating.

Do you have any new recipes that you are making this year?

Whenever I have free time during the year you will often find me in my backyard around the grill trying out new recipes. This year one of my favorite experiments turned out to be grilled pies. I wanted to take the traditional Southern fried pie and give it an extra punch of flavor by cooking it over charcoal. This is easier said than done because most homemade crusts are not grill grate ready! I’m happy to report that I’ve put together the perfect grilled crust recipe. Now I can satisfy my sweet tooth with grilled peach, apple, or caramel pecan pie. You can take it a step further and make grilled breakfast pies or something savory such as a grilled tomato pie.

 

Grilled Caramel Pecan Pie
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Courtesy of Chris Lilly from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q
Prep time: 45 mins
Cook time: 6 mins
Total time: 51 mins
Serves: 8 pies
Take one of the South’s richest culinary traditions from the oven to the grill for more flavor. Pecans, caramel and filling are nestled in a half-moon pouch of dough and grilled directly over hot coals to form a crisp shell with a rich gooey center.
Ingredients
    Dough

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour for rolling out dough
    Pie

  • 8 store bought caramels cut in half
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon oil
Instructions
  1. Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and refrigerate. Measure the water and refrigerate. In a small mixing bowl add flour and salt and mix well. Add in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Slowly add water, mixing continuously, until a dough ball is formed. Seal the dough ball in GLAD® ClingWrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Sprinkle countertop or cutting board generously with flour. Remove dough from the refrigerator and place onto the floured prep area, roll out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut the dough into 5- to 6-inch diameter circles. Removing extra dough from the prep area to reroll and make more pie shells. Immediately peal, lift and flip the dough circles making sure they don’t stick. Yield should be 8 pie shells.
  3. Preheat the grill using Kingsford® charcoal, until the internal temperature reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Place 2 caramel halves and 1 tablespoon of pecans onto the center of each dough circle.
  5. Combine corn syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla extract and salt in a small saucepan over low heat. Mix until the ingredients are combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the egg once the mixture has cooled. Chill the filling for 15 minutes or until it has thickened slightly. Add 4 teaspoons of the cold filling mixture over the caramels and pecans onto the center of each dough circle.
  6. Lightly moisten the edges of the dough with water. Fold the dough in half creating a half moon with peach filling. Gently press the pie edges together and crimp them with a fork.
  7. Prep the charcoal grill grate by using a grill brush and to brush on a light coat of oil. Transfer the pies to the grill and cook over direct heat, uncovered, for 3 minutes on each side or until the dough turns a crispy golden brown. Remove from the grill and serve.
Notes

Recipe created by world champion pitmaster, Chris Lilly on behalf of Kingsford® charcoal.

Old-Fashioned Grilled Peach Pie
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Courtesy of Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q
Prep time: 45 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Serves: 8 pies
In the South, mouths drool whenever fried pies are mentioned. Traditionally they are fried in a pan with butter until crisp and brown. To heat things up, I have taken this traditional dessert to the backyard barbecue. By grilling the peaches prior to making the filling and then crisping the dough pocket over hot charcoal, you can make this Southern dessert a coal-fired masterpiece.
Ingredients
    Dough

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour for rolling out dough
    Sugar Rub

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/16 teaspoon nutmeg
    Pies

  • 2 pounds ripe peaches (3 large or 4 medium)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon oil
Instructions
  1. Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and refrigerate. Measure the water and refrigerate. In a small mixing bowl add flour and salt and mix well. Add in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Slowly add water, mixing continuously, until a dough ball is formed. Seal the dough ball in GLAD® ClingWrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Sprinkle countertop or cutting board generously with flour. Remove dough from the refrigerator and place onto the floured prep area, roll out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut the dough into 5- to 6-inch diameter circles. Removing extra dough from the prep area to re-roll and make more pie shells. Immediately peal, lift and flip the dough circles making sure they don’t stick. Yield should be 8 pie shells.
  3. Preheat the grill using Kingsford® charcoal, until the internal temperature reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. In a small bowl add the sugar rub ingredients and mix well.
  5. Remove the pit from the peaches and cut each peach into 8 wedges and remove skin. Generously coat the peach wedges with the sugar rub mix. Immediately place the peaches on the grill grate for 2 minutes on each side, or until they caramelize. Remove the peaches from the grill and dice them into 1/2 inch pieces. Place the peaches and butter into a medium mixing bowl. When the butter melts, add the brown sugar and flour and mix well. Stir in orange juice.
  6. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of peach filling onto the center of each circle of dough. Lightly moisten the edges of the dough with water. Fold the dough in half creating a half moon with peach filling. Gently press the pie edges together and crimp them with a fork.
  7. Prep the charcoal grill grate by using a grill brush and to brush on a light coat of oil. Transfer the pies to the grill and cook over direct heat, uncovered, for 3 minutes on each side or until the dough turns a crispy golden brown. Remove from the grill and serve.
Notes

Recipe created by world champion pitmaster, Chris Lilly on behalf of Kingsford® charcoal.

Charcoal-Grilled Turkey with Fresh Herb Butter
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Courtesy of Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 3 hours 45 mins
Total time: 4 hours 5 mins
Serves: 10
Recipe created by champion pitmaster, Chris Lilly, on behalf of Kingsford® charcoal.
Ingredients
    Bird

  • 1 whole turkey (12 pounds)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Coarse ground black pepper
    Fresh Herb Butter

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • cup chopped Italian parsley
  • cup chopped green onion tops
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1½ teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    Gravy

  • 2 cups turkey stock (as directed)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
Instructions
  1. Place the whole turkey breast side down on a cutting board. Remove the neck and giblets and set aside to make the turkey stock. With a sharp knife or a pair of kitchen shears, cut the turkey down each side of the backbone, removing it completely. Open the turkey and press it flat on the cutting board. Using a sharp knife, loosen the breast bone from between the turkey breasts and remove it with your fingers. This will enable the turkey to open completely flat. Apply a light coat of olive oil to the turkey skin and liberally season the skin with kosher salt and black pepper.
  2. Build a charcoal fire for direct grilling. The heat over the coals should be hot, (approximately 450 to 500 degrees F).
  3. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan. Add the remaining fresh herb butter ingredients, mix well, and keep warm until needed.
  4. To make turkey stock, add 3½ cups water, 1 ¾ teaspoons salt, turkey neck and giblets to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1½ hours.
  5. Place the butterflied turkey directly over the coals, skin side down, and baste with the fresh herb butter. Grill the turkey for 5 to 7 minutes or until the skin starts to turn golden brown and begins to crisp. Transfer the turkey to a 10”x10” baking dish skin side up, place it back on the grill, and baste with fresh herb butter. Cover the grill and close the air dampers reducing the cooking temperature to 350 degrees F. Cook for 2½ hours basting every hour with the remaining fresh herb butter. The internal temperature of turkey thigh should reach 175 to 180 degrees F while the breast meat should reach 160 to 165 degrees F. Remove the turkey from the grill, cover it with foil, and let it rest for 15 minutes prior to carving.
  6. To make the gravy, scrape all of the drippings and liquid from the bottom of the roasting pan into a small bowl. Skim the grease from the top of the liquid. Pour the seasoned liquid, about ¾ cup, into a small sauce pan. In a small bowl, whisk the two tablespoons water with the cornstarch until smooth. Add the cornstarch slurry and two cups of the pre-made turkey broth to the sauce pan and heat. Serve drizzled over the turkey or on the side as table gravy.

Thanksgiving Dinner Southern Style – White Truffle Butter

Norman Rockwell ThanksgivingThanksgiving dinner is one of the great unifiers of Americans.  With few exceptions we all eat on the same day, enjoy the same dishes and have the same responses (falling asleep).  Granted there are subtle regional differences like wild rice in Minnesota or hatch chilies in New Mexico so I intend to look at some things customary to a Turkey Day menu in the South but I’m not doing it alone.

My good friend Gene Fox of Deep South Cooking Outfitters will show us how to deep fry a turkey without deep frying our house (HERE).  Chris Lilly of world famous Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, AL will be talking turkey, well actually pies – grilled pies..  Chris is fresh off his appearance on Best in Smoke on the Food Network and winning Grand Champion at the 2011 Memphis in May.  Also lending a hand will be Richard Rosenfeld of premium tea company Two Leaves and a Bud because no Southern Thanksgiving table is complete without a pitcher of Alabama Table Wine – iced tea.  And I’ll be Going Coastal with dressing made with plenty of cornbread, Andouille sausage and Gulf oysters.

415WMlqRNZL. SL500 AA300  Thanksgiving Dinner Southern Style   White Truffle ButterIn the coming days I’ll be dropping each of these little nuggets on you but today I’m going to discuss making a great compound butter.  A “compound butter” is real butter flavored with herbs or spices.  Making a compound butter is easy – just let a stick or two of real unsalted butter come to room temperature, add it to a mixing bowl and using an electric mixer cream the butter like you would for frosting.  Then add your flavor additive, a pinch of salt and cream it just long enough to combine.  Spread the butter onto some wax paper or plastic wrap and shape into a log.  Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least two hours.  Serve for topping hot dinner rolls or cornbread.

You can use any fresh or dried herb or spice mixes like Cajun seasoning or Tabasco sauce.  In this instance I am making an elegant and luxurious compound butter like you might find at one of those great Southern white tablecloth restaurants in Charleston, Savannah or New Orleans. White Truffle Butter.

White Truffle Butter
Recipe Type: Condiment
Author: Stuart Reb Donald
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 5 mins
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 TBL white truffle oil or to taste
  • 2 pinches of salt or to taste
Instructions
  1. Place room temperature in a mixing bowl and using an electric mixer cream the butter like you would for frosting.
  2. Add your white truffle oil, a pinch of salt and cream it just long enough to combine.
  3. Spread the butter onto some wax paper or plastic wrap and shape into a log.
  4. Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Outdoor Cooking: Burger Tips

Originally posted at TheKitchenHotline.com:

I am a firm believer that the most American food is not the hot dog nor the apple pie but the burger.  Both the hot dog and the apple pie trace their lineage to one other country (Germany and France respectively) while the burger reflects our melting pot culture.  The bun originates in Egypt, the Mongols were the first to grind the beef while the Germans were the first to cook it, tomatoes are from the New World but ketchup gets here by way of Italy via China and mustard is from India.

Mobile Burger CrawlThere is a very important designation to make here – a burger refers to a sandwich with at least 5 ounces of meat while anything with less than 5 ounces of meat (including a quarter-pounder) is a slider.  Remember when the McDonald’s sign used to say how many hamburgers were sold?  Today it says “billions served.”  There is no mention of hamburgers.  Perhaps that is because most of their menu fails to meet the definition of a burger.

Of course when most of us think about throwing a few burgers on the grill few visualize a paper thin wafer of frozen ground beef.  Most of us visualize a thick, hand formed patty.  That’s why the designation is important, if you try to mimic the weights at Micky D’s you’ll end up disappointed with your grilling experience.  In this case bigger is absolutely better.

Calories aside the best burgers contain a grind that is 80% lean meat and 20% pure fat.  Unfortunately that much fat can be lethal.  Many have experimented with leaner grinds, not just of beef but also chicken, turkey, pork, et al.  The result is a dry, less than satisfying burger.  Granted it is healthy but not exactly good.

I have two healthy fixes, one easy and the other a bit labor intensive.  The first is to throw your lean ground meat into a large bowl then blend in olive oil equal to 1/5th of your meat.  That’s 1/5th by weight mind you not volume or 3.2 ounces of oil per one pound of ground meat.  Olive oil being unsaturated fat that is full of antioxidants will give your burger the right mouth-feel without adding all the saturated fat.

The other method is for the burger connoisseur like myself.  Using the meat grinding attachment on my trusty old stand mixer I usually grind my own meat for burgers.  I buy the leanest sirloin steak I can find, usually 96% lean or higher, grass fed if at all possible.  I cut that into 2” cubes and place them two or three cubes at a time into the grinder alternating frequently with a tablespoon of coconut oil.  This gives me an actual saturated fat for my burger that has the added benefit of being very healthy.  The result is a burger that is perfect in every conceivable way.  This same method works well for grinding a skinless turkey breast or a nice lean pork tenderloin.

When hand-pattying burgers it is important not to work the meat too much, it can actually make them tough.  For the novice I suggest getting a 5 ounce ice cream scoop to make well-rounded balls.  Place each ball on a piece of parchment paper or cellophane topped with another piece then gently pressing down with a plate until the patty is ½ to ¾ of an inch thick.

Something else I like to do when making burgers is to blend herbs into the meat.  My preference is Herbes de Provence but any dried herbs and/or seasonings will do.   This way the meat is flavored throughout and not just on the surface that gets the salt and pepper on it.  Oh, yeah, salt is not an option; it has to be used.  In addition to enhancing the flavor it is crucial for the Maillard reaction which is the fancy science name for searing meat to get a crust.

Outdoor Cooking: Rib Tips

Originally posted at TheKitchenHotline.com:

The most popular ingredient in American outdoor cooking is quite possibly pork ribs.  They are probably the ingredient that gives the weekend warrior the most trouble as well.  That’s because ribs do not react well to the same cooking method as burgers, dogs and chicken.

More Tips from the ProsTo understand the reason for this it is important to learn the actual definition of one of the most misconstrued words in cooking – grill.  When most here the word “grill” the immediate picture that comes to mind is usually of iron grates over a gas flame.  That specific cooking method is called char-broiling.  While that it is a method for grilling it is not the only method.  To grill something means to cook quickly in close proximity to a high-temperature, dry heat.  Char-broiling certainly fits that description but so does a griddle.  This is the method most use to cook burgers, dogs and chicken.

If you try to grill ribs you will not be happy with the result.  If they look good on the outside they are raw in the center; if they are done through and through then they’re most likely burnt on the outside.  To properly cook ribs you need a low temperature for an extended cooking period, usually no hotter than 225 degrees for no less than three hours.

The secret to ribs according to Danielle Dimovski (aka Diva-Q) is, “low and slow rules.”  Diva-Q is the Grand Dame of the competitive barbecue circuit.  She was the break out star of season two of TLC’s BBQ Pitmaster and is rumored to be part of a new series on the Food Network.  The lady knows her ribs.

According to her, “The number one rule for ribs is pull your membrane.  If you’re making ribs you need to pull your membrane so the smoke can absorb and the rub can absorb into the meat.”  Concerning the low/slow method she adds, “You cannot break down that internal fat fast.  You need to take time to do it.  It’s not something that should be done quickly.  At least four hours for a slab of St. Louie spares. “

Because it only produces a high heat gas is difficult, but not impossible, to cook ribs properly.  If you have a gas grill only light one side of it and place the ribs over the cold side.  It isn’t perfect but it will work.   The reason it is only functional is because there is little smoke.  Smoke is vital because it provides a great deal of the taste.

Low and slow isn’t the only reason why charcoal is the preferred cooking medium for barbecue; it also produces smoke.  As the smoke permeates the meat it slowly breaks down the connective tissue leaving a tender rib with great flavor.

Two last tips to producing great ribs.  First, do not put on any BBQ sauce until the ribs are done.  The sugar in the sauce will scorch long before the ribs are done so try not to cook the sauce more than about 10 minutes.  Lastly, never, ever boil the ribs before putting them on the fire.  You lose all of the finger licking goodness.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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