Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ford Family Tailgating Barbeque, LSU vs Florida

Yesterday, LSU played host to one of the biggest college football games of the year as #1 Florida came into Baton Rouge for a battle on the bayou.  In the spirit of tailgating festivities, I agreed to be the chef for the Ford Family Tailgating party and bring the old Third Row Monstrosity (barbeque pit and smoker made out of a beer keg and full sized aluminum barrel) to do my cooking on.  Charlie Ford was celebrating his 59th birthday, Jeremy Ford made a couple bacon explosions, Mama Ford took care of all the fixings, and Eusebio had helped me out by pre-marinating the meat... all that was left to do was for me to cook!

Chef Jay with the Monstrosity Doing Some Smoking

Our menu was extensive, we were cooking for around 150 people, and I'm pretty sure we had between 75 and 100 pounds of meat to grill and smoke, so it was important that we got started right away.  I lit the first batch of 100% mesquite charcoal in the pit at around 8:00 am and got things started by throwing two racks of ribs and five links of chicken and apple sausage into the smoker.

Chicken and Apple Sausage, Asian Ribs, and Bourbon Sesame Ribs in the Smoker

Throughout the day we cooked chicken breasts, chicken thighs, chicken wings, chicken sausage, pork sausage, elk sausage, venison sausage, a venison back strap, pork chops, pork loins, burgers, ribs, alligator tail, and bacon explosions in 18 different marinades.  The maple-bourbon-pecan chicken breasts were one of the earlier hits of the day.  I made a barbeque-maple-bourbon-hot sauce that was used to baste and flavor quite a few things that came off the pit throughout the day.  Most of the ribs came off the pit and out of the smoker with just a dry rub and no sauce was needed.

Ribs in the Smoker!

All of the food was fantastic.  People were eating it faster that I could cook it and I had to keep the pit stocked with mesquite and keep the fire blazing because there was never any downtime in the cooking.  Jeremy showed up with the bacon explosions around 10:30 am and we proceeded to get them in the smoker right away.  For those that don't know, a bacon explosion contains two basket-weaved lattice works of bacon.  One bacon sheet is laid out flat, then topped with two pounds of italian sausage.  That framework is then layered with any additional toppings or spices that one may desire, and then the other bacon lattice work is placed on top.  The entire thing is then rolled into a giant log that should look something like this:

Jeremy Ford with an Uncooked Bacon Explosion

The appropriate method of cooking is a slow smoke, preferably over a tasty wood like mesquite, hickory, or pecan.  We used mesquite, and boy did that work out well.  The bacon explosions were in the smoker for about six hours.  They were then wrapped in foil and placed on the grill for a little direct heat and to crisp up the outer layer of bacon.  The finished product looked like this:

Bacon Explosion Fresh out of the Smoker

Spicy Bacon Explosion

Mild Bacon Explosion All Sliced Up

The Bacon Explosion was a hit!  What a great experiment.  Thanks to Jeremy for creating it and bringing it to the party to let me cook it.  I think the masses were pleased with the delicious, mouthwatering, succulent log of meat.

The day was filled with cooking on the grill and the smoker... I'm pretty sure I was by the pit from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm, but I loved every minute of it.  The nice thing about being the cook at the tailgate party is that everybody gives you compliments all day long... and they brought me beers!  Lots of beers.  Ah, tailgating!  Here are a few more pictures of the food:

Pork Chops, Five Racks of Ribs, and a Pork Loin on the BBQ

Smoked Venison Back Strap and Grilled Alligator Tail

Grilled Alligator Tail with the Bone Still In

Special thanks to the Ford Family, Brandon, Dustin, and Eusebio for all the help preparing and setting up.  Thanks to Jeremy, Andrew, and Brandon, as well as everyone else who helped, for being my Sous Chefs for the day.  I had a great time, and the food was terrific.  We'll have to do it again some time!!

"Bon Appetit... that's French for good meal!" - The Reverend Brandon Brown

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