Smokin’ Q

 

BY ESTEBAN ADROGUE

For many, Sunday morning came around smelling of fried eggs and homemade pancakes, with a fresh glass of squeezed orange juice. Tip-toeing all the way to Mom’s room…  For others, Sunday morning had a completely different meaning.

 

The sound of wood burning away in the BBQ’s, heating up the air, spreading that familiar smell, that aroma that takes us back to our childhood… It can only mean one thing: The Smokin Q BBQ Pitmasters Competition was finally here!

 

Lynnwood Ranch (Okotoks, AB) once again played host to the 3rd annual KCBS sanctioned BBQ Competition and BBQ Feast. The Smokin Q gathered 35 of the best Pitmasters and their crews from all around Alberta, in a sizzling battle against the toughest judges to become this year’s Pitmaster Champion.

The competition consisted of four different entries: first entry was BBQ chicken, a classic! Half hour later, competitors presented the judges with their best smoked ribs. Third entry consisted of delicious tender pulled-pork. And last, but definitely not least, judges were delighted with a low and slow roasted brisket. Makes you want to become a judge, doesn’t it?!

 

But before Sunday’s competition all participants had a chance to put their skills to the test.

Saturday night hosted the BBQ Bash Feast and Frolic. This year’s event consisted of competitors displaying a little preview of their abilities, not only to the judges, but to almost 300 guests as well. Everyone was eager to taste the pitmasters’ wonderful creations, which included everything from chorizo tacos with coleslaw, to a delicious fig and shrimp canapés

After sampling magnificent delights, guests were treated to a delicious brisket and salmon dinner, with a side of locally grown steamed veggies, salads and corn on the cob; followed by a dessert course of seasonal fruit trays and sweet delicatessens.

Once dinner was over, it was time to get up from those seats and shake that body to the rhythm of live jazz-fusion music. People came together to share a great time, laughed, had a few drinks and danced the night away as this year’s BBQ Bash came to an end.

To fully appreciate and understand the hard work behind such a fantastic culinary experience, we must venture back to Saturday morning; 10:00 am brought with it the first few trailers loaded with BBQ equipment, food, and competitors ready and full of ambition to demonstrate what they are capable of.

While pitmasters got their fires going, Western Horse Review went around interviewing different cooks and their crews, and talked about which elements a BBQ team should include to be the best.

 

They each described a “perfect BBQ” as having two crucial factors: food and atmosphere.

 

“It has to be the perfect balance among smoke, spices and meat. Not overpowering any single one of them.” – shared pitmaster Chris, head of Rocky Mountain Smokers.

 

All competitors also shared one unanimous tip: low and slow.

 

“…the best? Low and slow! It is a long and slow process, 250 degrees fahrenheit for about 8 to 12 hours” – said pitmaster Danny Cooper, from Fahrenheit 250 BBQ.

 

Sydney from Bordertown Bar-B-Que commented – “It’s all about friends coming together to have fun, a good time. You want to create a ‘party’ rather than a competitive atmosphere.”

 

Not only did they talk about friendship between their crew, but amongst their other rivals too. “We are all (competitors) a big family. If we don’t win, we are thrilled they (rivals) did! Barbecue it’s like golf; it’s not you against the competitors, it is us against those judges.” – Logan, part of the crew of Rocky Mountain Smokers.

 

As a very thankful attendee, I must admit with every bite of the tender brisket I took, I tasted that camaraderie, I felt that love, effort and passion pitmasters put in every single BBQ they cook.

 

Western Horse Review can’t wait to see y’all there again next year!

 

For more information, visit the Lynnwood Ranch website.

 

Decadent Dessert

 

 

By Ingrid Schulz

Rob and Jody Bolton toured the best barbecue houses in Texas, joints like Franklin Barbecue in Austin, and Blacks Barbecue in Lockhart, before they swung open the doors of their own style of barbecue house – Big Sky BBQ, just outside of Okotoks, Alberta. Every day they crank out such revered barbecued staples as smoked pulled pork or chicken, and homemade jalapeno cheddar sausage, matched with delicious sides of jalapeno corn bread, baked beans and coleslaw. With an ambience that can be described as eclectic West/biker, the restaurant is quickly becoming a local favorite for the dressed-up or casual. For events they offer a smoke-wagon catering service for small or large groups, but perhaps their biggest convenience appeal is the BBQ App they recently launched, where customers simply log on, place an order from the menu, pay and state what time they’d like to swing by the drive-through window to pick it up. You won’t even have to drop your trailer to access the drive-through as it is designed to accommodate truck-and-trailer combos!

While it’s the barbecue fare that brings in the customers, Big Sky is turning a few heads with it’s inventive and decadent desserts, like barbecue pit master Ryan’s signature bacon and whipped cream-dripped chocolate chip cookie. So good, we had to ask for the recipe.

Barbecue Chocolate Cookie with Maple Bacon Drizzle
Total Time: 1 hour
Prep Time: 30 min
Cooking Time: 30 min
Total Servings: 16 cookies
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
Whip cream    ½ cup
Candied bacon (for whip cream)    1 strip

Brown sugar    1 cup
Butter (softened)    1 cup
White sugar    1 cup
Eggs    2
Vanilla extract    1/8 cup
All purpose flour    3 cups
Baking soda     1 tsp
Salt    ½ tsp
Chocolate chips    2 cups
Smoked candy bacon    10 strips
Warm water    1/8 cup

Method

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together with the butter, and make sure it is well mixed with the chopped bacon.
  2. When the dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed, mix in all the liquid ingredients very slowly until you get a smooth dough ball.
  3. When the dough is ready cover it and let it rest in the fridge for an hour.
  4. After an hour your dough is ready.
  5. Portion your cookie dough into four-ounce balls and place them on the cookie sheet.
  6. Pre-heat the oven for 280°F. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes.
  7. While the cookies are baking whip the cream and add a bit of crumbled candied bacon to the final whip.
  8. Pull out the cookies and let rest for 15 minutes.
  9. Decorate with whipped cream and candied bacon.
  10. For an extra kick of decadence, drizzle warmed caramel sauce over the entire cookie and whipped cream.

Thanks to Rob Bolton for this recipe and barbecue talk. Visit Big Sky BBQ on the north side of Okotoks, or at www.bigskybbq.ca or download their app, Big Sky BBQ Pit.

Mac & Cheese of the West

Nothing says Wild West like crispy fried mac and cheese, topped with pulled pork and BBQ Sauce! Check out this specialty from Lynnwood Ranch located near Okotoks, AB. Served from their food truck or straight from your backyard smoker, this recipe is guaranteed to keep guests coming back for more.

INGREDIENTS:
1 lbs Dry macaroni
1/4 lbs Butter
1 L Milk (Whole)
1  lb. Shredded Old Cheddar Cheese
8 Tbsp. Flour
2 tsp sea salt
2 Tsp Onion Powder
2 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
¼   Cup Pickled Jalapeno’s + Juice

DIRECTIONS:
Cook macaroni al dente.
Use butter, flour and milk to make a basic white sauce. Once heated add onion powder, salt, Worcestershire sauce, Jalapeños and cheese. Melt together, once it is ready add pre-cooked macaroni and mix in thoroughly. Place in a rectangle cake pan approximately two inches in depth. Cool thoroughly in refrigerator.

FINAL STEP
Cut into cake size pieces. Heat skillet to medium heat and melt butter in pan. Place Mac & Cheese pieces into skillet. Brown nicely on both sides. If your heat is right, this process will have heated the pasta throughly. Plate ready Mac & Cheese, top with Pulled Pork & BBQ Sauce.

RECIPE FOR WILD WILLY’S RUB
1 lb. Paparika
6 oz ground pepper
9 oz sea salt
7 oz white sugar
3 oz Chile powder
3 oz granulated garlic
3 onion powder

Mix ingredients together thoroughly, store in sealed in dark dry place.

BBQ SAUCE – Our top two pick’s. Ranch BBQ’s House Sauce (contact Lynnwood Ranch) or Guy Fieri’s Bourbon Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce (found at Costco).

PORK BUTT
Start with four to five pounds. Trim excess fat. Rub liberally with Wild Willy’s Rub. Place in smoker at 225 F for 12 hrs. Cook to internal temp of of 185 F. Once internal temperature is achieved, pork will pull easily. Use two forks. * Tip – If you are new to bar-be-queing pulled pork, just google it for a number of educational videos.

 

About Lynnwood Ranch – Located near Okotoks, AB, Lynnwood Ranch recently celebrated its 25th anniversary in business. The ranch boasts a pristine country setting alongside the beautiful Sheep River and offers a picturesque western-style venue. Hosting events throughout the year, Lynnwood Ranch is excited to present the third annual Smokin’ Q this year, an Alberta KCBS-sanctioned BBQ Pitmaster competition on May 13-14, 2017. They also offer one of Calgary’s most requested food trucks, featuring ranch BBQ mobile vending and catering services within the City of Calgary and surrounding area.

Macho Salad

A hearty salad worthy of a cowboy appetite.

By Ingrid Schulz

Photos By Krista Kay Photography

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Whoever said dates and goat cheese couldn’t be manly clearly hasn’t dived into this creation. At first glance, it may seem an odd mix, but trust us, this is one salad that delivers a complicated and delicious layering of taste. The cornbread croutons lend a southwestern flavor the dates add a touch of sweetness and the goat cheese, a generous tangy zip. Throw in your chicken, toss is all in the light oregano and garlic flavored homemade dressing and you’ve got a salad meal packed with protein and high on flavor.

This salad is especially great for those early still summer warm evenings, when the last thing you want on your chore list is hanging around the kitchen fixing supper. Certainly not when there might be summer’s last light and warmth to enjoy or horses to ride. You can make it all ahead and simply pull it out of the fridge and assemble a few minutes before serving.

Use the leftovers of your Sunday dinner roasted farm-raised chicken if you like, but a store-bought rotisserie chicken works just as well. Similarly, bake your own cornbread, or as a quicker alternative, buy a cornbread loaf or muffins at your local bakery. Cut the bread into bite size pieces, brush it lightly in corn oil, salt and pepper them, and toast in a 400F oven for five to ten minutes.

Cornbread and an oregano-based dressing lend to the complex flavors of the macho salad.

Cornbread and an oregano-based dressing lend to the complex flavors of the macho salad.

Macho Salad

Simply add as little or as much of each of the ingredients below in a salad bowl amply filled with a bunch of fresh greens – preferably a mix of romaine and spring greens.

Sliced chicken meat

Chopped tomatoes or grape or cherry tomatoes halved

Diced avocado

Corn, either off the cob, or canned

Chopped dates

Chunks of goat cheese

Sliced, and if preferred, toasted almonds

Cornbread croutons

Salt and pepper

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Dressing

2 tbsp spicy brown mustard

1/4 cup lemon juice

1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1-2 tsp brown sugar

1-2 cloves minced fresh garlic

1/4 tsp dried basil

1/3 tsp dried oregano

1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

Mix together all the ingredients.

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Wild West Cocktail – Pear Stagecoach

pearsc2When I bartended at a Calgary lounge in the late 90’s, and at the tail-end of an epic oil boom, it was all about the cocktail hour. Mixing up a precise combination of a whiskey sour, old-fashioned, fizz or martini – which, whether shaken or stirred, was always made with gin, never vodka – was a bit of an art form to those of us who proudly considered ourselves classic drink masters. The regulars who seated themselves at the smooth dark leather barstools of our horseshoe-shaped bar had discerning palettes and we prided ourselves on fixing a cocktail with deliberate perfection. The citrus fruit combination of a lemon, lime and orange, as well as maraschino cherries and a bottle of bitters was never far from hand, and it should be said, though the bar menu featured a half dozen pages of unique combinations, we would have rather walked barefoot on the contents of the evening’s broken glass pail, than be caught having to look up the ingredients of any cocktail ordered out of the well-worn, leather-bound menus.

I thought that sort of bartending artistry had long been forsaken in the mundane flavored-bottle offerings of today’s establishments, which have all but lost the classic Western cowtown vibe of those idyllic lounges. That is, until I travelled to Seattle to meet a friend with the sole intention of catching up on each other’s lives, whilst working our way through two full days of exceptional restaurants and drinking establishments along the wharf. There, what I had long considered to be a lost art in cowboy town was a thriving ingredient of the Seattle dining scene. Bartenders were mixing their own house bitters, creating amazing tinctures and fusing these ingredients all into a new generation of vintage-like cocktails, serving it all up behind the sort of white aproned and black tie pride I remembered from another place and time.bittersThe entire experience filled me with a nostalgic longing and inspired me to envision a return to the idea of a classic cocktail with a western twist. Hence, the Wild West Cocktail column, and my starter spring cocktail, the pear stagecoach. In another world, this might be referred to as a “sidecar,” but I’m striving for a western rift here, so I’ve taken a few liberties. Of note, no matter how precisely I’ve poured this recipe, it doesn’t take kindly to doubling. If you’re serving more than two, be patient, and revel in the art of the creation of each set.

Pear Stagecoach

Serves two.

Four ounces (120 ml) pear brandy

Two ounces (60 ml) triple sec (such as Cointreau)

One ounce (2 tbsp) freshly squeezed lime juice

Lime zest to garnish

Combine all into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into two chilled martini glasses. You may want to sugar rim them if you decide the drink is too puckery on its own. Garnish with twisted lime zest.

Granola Bar Pie

The ultimate pie in a pinch interpretation.

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Photo by Krista Kay Photography

Admittedly, there may be those high couture ranch chefs who will turn their noses at the thought of crushing up a package of granola bars, tossing the contents in with a fine selection of other pantry and fridge staples, scraping it all into a store-bought frozen pie crust and turning it out as if it were the latest Julia Child creation. Then again, those women aren’t likely driven to ride one, or any number of horses in a day, muck stalls, have little ones tripping around their legs, hold down a full time job, manage the place, or even – all of the above. Not to mention, live 40 minutes from the nearest grocery store. Or, have spouses who think nothing of inviting the half dozen arena hangers-on in for an impromptu dinner. For those of us who find ourselves in these scenarios on a regular basis, last minute inceptions we can whip up from a half-laden pantry are life-savers. This simple pie handily accomplishes just that, while giving a grand nod to the resourcefulness of our great-grandmothers who produced similar delicious creations with nothing more than a bit of flour, lard and molasses (think the ubiquitous prairie staple- shoofly pie).

Please, do us a favor, and don’t set this on the table with a demure whiff of “didn’t have enough time” and “this will have to do” murmuring, but rather, present it in your fanciest pie plate with a flourish of unapologetic pioneer pride, and know that, despite its non-descriptive ingredients, this is one of the tastiest pies your family and guests will ever have the luxury of biting into.

With its gorgeous texture and luxurious flavor, your guests will think you spent hours in the kitchen.

With its gorgeous texture and luxurious flavor, your guests will think you spent hours in the kitchen.

Granola Bar Pie

Tenderflake deep dish or other similar frozen pie crust

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup corn syrup

1/8 tsp salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs, lightly beaten

4 Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey crunchy granola bars (2 pouches, about 3/4 cup), crushed*

1/4 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats

1/4 cup milk chocolate baking chips

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F

– Place pie crust in nine-inch pie plate, and follow the box directions for prepping the pie.

– In large bowl, microwave butter until melted.

– Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup until blended.

– Beat in salt, vanilla and eggs.

– Stir crushed granola bars, oats, baking chips and walnuts (if using) into mixture.

– Pour into crust-lined pie plate and bake 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is set and crust is golden brown.

– Cool for a bit, and serve warm, at room temperature or chilled with whipped cream or ice cream.

* To easily crush granola bars, use a rolling pin to crush bars prior to unwrapping.

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Photo by Krista Kay Photography

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Photo by Krista Kay Photography

Alberta Whisky Cake

It’s becoming increasingly prevalent to consider source (local) and company (niche) in our world. In a sense, our western culture has perhaps always leaned more towards a high standard of craftsmanship, than an overload of cheap trappings. We cherish one well-made bit crafted from a local artisan, over 10 made overseas. A pair of chaps so beautifully constructed they must be passed on from mother to daughter. And so on.

I’ve as much as possible refined and practiced the same criteria in my kitchen and lifestyle. I’d rather have less, and enjoy quality than stack up on bulk buys of ridiculously processed foods.

awckamlaAll part of why I never grow tired of this friend, and her consistently positive mind and joy of life.

It took baker Kamla McGonigal of Calgary, Alberta, four years to perfect her recipe. Determination, baby, that’s what it took. The fourth generation Calgary native wanted to use whisky, locally distilled at Highwood Distiller’s, from grain at nearby farms as one of the main ingredients in her delectable cakes. Finally after countless hours over an oven, McGonigal developed one of the best tasting and most unique baked-goods available to those with discerning palates – the Alberta Whisky Cake.

awcwhiskeycakeboxUsing only the finest locally-sourced ingredients, Alberta Whisky Cakes offer a seductive flavor. You will be able to smell it’s sweet, distinct goodness before you will ever taste it, but as whisky advocates know – this is a desirable trait.

awcradioSo, as I’m working through my Christmas list of gift-giving and thank-you’s – both personal and corporate, Alberta Whisky Cakes in their delightful western-styled packaging are a top pick. The beautiful bundts are simple to order, and because of the dense, whisky intinction, keep well through shipping and into the Christmas season.

Find Alberta Whisky Cake on Facebook or, here.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

rhubarbcakeA couple of years ago, I purchased a rhubarb plant. I set it temporarily by the compost pile, while I deliberated where to plant it. It was spring. It rained for a long time. Spring turned into summer. Horses, shows and other priorities prevailed. When autumn rolled around, I guiltily pushed the dried up stalk, still in its pot, to the back of the compost pile, out of sight. Finally, sometime before winter I threw the entire plant into the compost pile, on its side, still in its pot. I was fairly certain I’d missed the successful transplanting window by a month, or season, or two.

There may be some truth to the theory that you really can’t kill rhubarb. The following spring, as I was tidying up the compost pile, there it was, on its side, bright green leaves and red stalks pushing out from the dried plant.

This time I didn’t miss the window, and since then we’ve re-discovered rhubarb as one of our favourite springtime treats.

So, good, I decided to make a rhubarb upside-down cake for Wee’s birthday. So simple. The streusel ends up on the bottom of the cake in this case, but it’s still a beautiful thing. I have trouble with upside-down cakes flipping out intact. In this case, it’s appropriate to cool the cake about 10 minutes and then flip it. Too long, and the rhubarb will get sticky.

Streusel 

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

bit of salt

Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

4 cups (or more if desired) of cut up rhubarb, tossed in enough sugar to coat it.

1 cup sugar (in addition to the sugar used for coating the rhubarb)

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons of salt

1-2 tablespoons orange juice

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

a bit of orange zest, optional

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Butter a 9 or 10 inch round cake or pie pan (2-3 inches deep)

3. Spread the rhubarb and sugar mixture into the pan.

4. Make the streusel by crumbling together the ingredients.

5. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in zest and juice. Add eggs one at a time. Add flour in three batches and equal halves of the sour cream in between, beating until smooth. Your batter should be spreadable, add the second tablespoon of orange juice here if necessary.

Note: if you find yourself short of sour cream, you can substitute plain yogurt. Just let it sit in a strainer for 15 minutes mixed with a teaspoon of baking soda. This will give it the same consistency as the thicker sour cream.

6. Spread the batter over the rhubarb and top it off with the crumbled streusel.

7. Bake about 60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the edge, and invert onto a pretty cake plate.

rhubarbsliced

 

 

Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Chips

Fruit-Salsa-on-cinnamon-chips

If you want to fix a special summer snack that is as healthy as it is fresh, this fruit salsa on cinnamon chips is to die for! A seriously easy recipe that works great at home or from the living quarters of your trailer at a show.

And the best part? Not counting the fruit, there are only 140 calories per every 7 chips!

Ingredients:

1 mango

6-8 strawberries

10 cherries

1/8 cup chopped cilantro

1 tsp lemon juice

1 Bag of Stacy’s Cinnamon Chips

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Instructions
Wash all produce. Pit the cherries. Prepare your mango and cut into small pieces. Chop the tops off your strawberries and cut in half. Chop the cilantro up slightly. Throw the cherries, strawberries, mango and cilantro in a food processor and add in the lemon juice. Not a lot of processing is necessary because you want the salsa to be somewhat chunky. Once you have a blend you’re happy with, put the salsa into the fridge and allow it to marinade for at least 15 minutes.

Serve the salsa with Stacy’s Cinnamon Chips.

Sooooo good!

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