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!

SLC Part 2

Sorry for the delay – things have been a wee bit busy!

So we (Saffron and I) cooked her second / my first Dutch Oven championship, and I have to say that I had an awesome time, and learned a number of things.

Lesson 1:  I really need more practice in Dutch Oven competition cooking!

For those of you unfamiliar with a Dutch Oven competition, the teams (not more than 2 people) are required to cook three courses: a bread, a main dish (primarily protein), and a dessert.  Our menu:

  • Herb Foccacia with Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic
  • Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Breast with Stuffed Potatoes
  • Chocolate Chipotle Cabernet Cake with Cherry Reduction

Oh, another little tidbit in the rules is that you’re supposed to be cooking with something close to “on the trail” authenticity.  Translation: No electric / battery-powered equipment.  Making bread?  You’re kneading and rising like great-grandma did!  Creaming butter?  You had better make sure it is well softened first.

As a team, we chose to take a minimalist approach for our presentations, the better to highlight the food.  Saffron’s chicken did well (third place in our round), but neither the focaccia or cake did as well (OK, last place for both).  While both the bread and dessert had judges who liked them, unfortunately the majority were on the “not so much” side.

The issues?  Well…

The focaccia’s third rise, after it was formed, didn’t go so well; it ended up a bit dense and a bit crunchy.  I attribute that to two things:  The elevation (SLC, anyone?), and the Dutch Oven I was rising in may have gotten too hot, and knocked off the yeasties.

The cake had its own issues.  We didn’t let it cool sufficiently before dropping it out of the oven, so part of it stuck.

Here’s another rule for you:  What you cook, you must serve.   If you have something burnt, you must turn it in.  The cake stuck in the bottom of the oven?  You must get it out and get it to the judges.

I am happy to say that after enough cooling, we were able to remove the remaining cake, and I got it assembled into something approaching the desired shape.  In the end, it wasn’t the extraction failure that hurt so much as the chipotle powder in the recipe.  Even after my test cooking, it turned out to be too much (while I liked the heat, I will admit it was hotter than expected).

Lesson 2:  Even though technically in the Southwest, Salt Lake City residents are heat wimps.

Even though the cooking portion of the day didn’t go as well as we would have liked, the event was tons of fun, and I’m happy to say that we met a lot of awesome people.  I’m looking forward to qualifying again so that I can give it another run.

Since we didn’t move on to the final round of the Dutch Oven competition, Saffron and I packed up and hurried ourselves 8 miles up the road to the BBQ competition, to do what we’re good at.  SLC Part 3 coming up…

To round things out, here are pictures of the turn-ins for your enjoyment:

Focaccia

Focaccia plated for turn-in

Main Dish Plated for Turn-in

Main Dish Plated for Turn-in

Cake after reassembling parts.

Cake after reassembling parts.

Cake after fixing - ready for turn-in.

Cake after fixing – ready for turn-in.