We’re About More Than Just Barbecue!

Barbecue – it’s in our name and it’s in our blood, but it’s not all that we do.

Over the last few months new adventures in catering and competition have led us to recipes and meals above and beyond the barbecue horizon.  I’m going to take this opportunity to catch up a bit!

First Up, Dutch Oven Orange and Bourbon Pecan “Pies”

Orange Bourbon Pecan "Pies" in Orange Halves

Orange Bourbon Pecan “Pies” in Orange Halves

OK, so they’re not really pies in the classic sense.  Using this recipe as a start, oranges were cut in half and the orange flesh removed, leaving a peel cup.  I wish I could tell you this was neat and easy, but it isn’t.  With care, a sharp paring knife and a spoon, you can remove the flesh, but patience is required.  To make sure the “pies” would not tip over, the bottom was trimmed flat.  (Learn from experience:  Make sure to not cut into your orange cup, or you’ll find your filling juice oozing away.)

A 14 inch Dutch Oven was heated up to 350°F, and lined with foil to catch drippings.  The filled cups were placed in the oven and cooked for about 20 minutes, until the filling set.

For the turn-in, the cups were served on the Dutch Oven lid surrounded by edible flowers (Dutch Oven rules prohibit the use of inedible decorations).  This dessert took second place at the competition.

Next, Banh Mi Inspired Sliders

Banh-Mi-Inspired Sliders

Banh Mi-Inspired Sliders

These sliders – featured in the best food photo I have ever taken – were practice for a burger competition.  The hamburger (from my favorite butcher Double DD Meats) was basted in a mirin-honey-soy glaze as it cooked over charcoal.  The toasted potato slider roll from Macrina Bakery was topped with a mayonnaise-honey-sriracha spread, cilantro, and cucumber, and the burger was finished with the classic pickled daikon and carrot.

At the actual competition the burger ended up finishing in Fourth Place.  I expect it would have done better, but I screwed up and bought Macrina olive rolls instead of the potato rolls; the burgers were still really good, but the olive rolls weren’t quite as pretty, and didn’t work quite as well with the Banh Mi flavors.

For a Change, Let’s Talk Oktoberfest Catering

Traditional Oktoberfest Dinner

Traditional Oktoberfest Dinner

Us Raven’s Fyre folks have done plenty of catering, but a traditional Oktoberfest dinner was definitely a first!  We wanted to dazzle, and make sure everyone had plenty to eat and plenty to love.

For the sides, we went with two German classics: Blaukraut (red cabbage brined in red wine) and warm German potato salad.  Of course, it wouldn’t be Oktoberfest without sausage!  As a twist on a classic, we braised smoked German sausages in Pyramid Oktoberfest Autumn Lager with onions and apples.  We decided to round out the meal with what turned out to be the most popular and praised dish, Sauerbraten.  For those not in the know, sauerbraten is beef (or pork or other meats) marinated in a vinegar mixture for several days, and then braised.  Normally a cut of beef such as bottom round is used, but staying true to our barbecue roots we decided to use briskets instead.  Happily, this resulted in what I feel is a much more flavorful dish.

In Closing…

If you made it this far, thank you!  I have other food goodies to cover, but will cut this short before you all get too bored.

See you soon!

Wild Weekend in Moses Lake

The Moses Lake event – The Basin BBQ Bash – was a great time, and fortunately Mother Nature decided to take it easy on us and not get much above 70 all weekend. Far better than the predicted 90°.

The weekend started off a bit off-balance since I somehow managed to miss packing the beautiful little free range chickens that Christene bought for the weekend. So first thing I had to run off to Safeway to get a couple of rather large Foster Farms chickens. Considering how long they took to cook, I definitely wish those little organic guys had been in the ice chest. But more on that in a minute.

By the time I got back from the store, it was time to head to the Cooks’ Meeting. Normally I’d send Christene so I can focus on whatever prep / cooking needs to be done, but she was working on her People’s Choice chili, so off I went. At this point things are barely organized in the tent, so we’re a bit behind all over.

After the meeting, I start working on my focaccia for the Dutch Oven competition – had to get it kneaded and rising. I think this is the first time since I was a kid that I had to knead dough by hand – this is why I have a Kitchen Aid! Somehow, starting on the dough first, I completely spaced that dessert was the first category. Fortunately I remembered just over an hour before, and had enough time to get the appropriate oven up to temp and cook the dessert.

The dessert I made was a Caribbean Upside-Down Cake with Coconut, Macadamia Nut, Dark Spiced Rum, and Pineapple. This was the first time cooking an actual cake in the Dutch Oven, so getting that sucker out had me a bit stressed. But I got the oven flipped, and we got the cake onto the presentation lid in one piece. That sucker looked awesome, but I had to cross my fingers as there was no way to taste it AND turn it in.

After Dutch Ovening, then I went ahead and baked another focaccia to have with dinner, since I still had half the dough remaining. Finally, after cooking all day and eating dinner, I got around to prepping the actual barbecue meats 10 hours after first setting up. And with a whole day, I so had hopes of brining my briskets…oh well.

Sunday, chicken continued to be a pain in our butts. I just couldn’t get the suckers cooked. After over an hour and a half of cooking two whole chickens I managed to get two breasts and four wings that were done, so we turned in a box of four breast pieces and four wings. A pretty box, and better than a DQ, but we knew it wasn’t going to do all that well. We don’t usually hit the bourbon until we’re all done, but a drink was definitely necessary after that round.

At the end of the day, Saturday definitely turned out better for us than Sunday. We took Fourth Place in Pork and Brisket. I thought my pork was a bit better than Fourth, but brisket I’m happy with considering there were some awesome brisket cooks there. Chicken did predictably poorly (12th); our Ribs also placed 12th, which was a surprise to us. Though after reading the comments, the judges nearly unanimously felt they were a bit underdone. Sometimes things just don’t go your way. Saturday though, the dessert took First Place (197.2 points out of a possible 200), and bread took Second. Unfortunately my short ribs were a bit chewy, so they didn’t do as well.

The good news though is that Saffron (Bush Kitchen) and I had already agreed that if one of us won the Dutch Oven competition, that we’d go cook the IDOS World Championship together. Saffron won (her entree was awesome), so we’re going to Utah in March!

I think that’s about it for now…plenty of other barbecue stuff coming up in the next couple of weeks. Christene and I are catering a 250 person lunch/dinner at the UW next week, and then the next day is the breast cancer charity rib cook-off. That’s going to be one exhausting weekend…