SUMMER BBQ SERIES

Backyard Bistro Barbecue Class

The other day, I received an email from Groupon advertising a BBQ class through Backyard Bistro for only $49/2 people.  I have mixed feelings about Backyard Bistro.  My company often uses Backyard Bistro to cater our events and the food they send is AWFUL.   But they say you can’t you judge a book by the…cashier?  What they send is sandwiches – turkey, ham and veggie wrap – with chips on the side.  Sure, they could try a little harder but they don’t.  From what I’ve heard, their restaurant serves one of the best burgers in Raleigh.  After last weekend, I will definitely try it out.

I purchased the Groupon and headed to Backyard Bistro with one of my favorite foodie friends prepared to learn some tips for creating better food on the grill.  The advertisement described the class as an opportunity to learn tips and tricks for grilling on any type of device (charcoal, grill and smoker), the history behind each, the difference between each and also a tutorial on how to build your own trash can smoker.  So, on a lovely Saturday (*read sweltering), we headed to Backyard Bistro ready to learn.

Upon arrival, we saw tents, trucks, and food.  We were ushered inside to sign in and pick our spot for the scotch tasting that was to come.  We were given a group number, the rules were explained and out we went into the hot, hot heat.

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We started the class at station 2.  This was the gas grill which is NOT my preferred technique for grilling.  In fact, I’d rather cook in my oven than on a gas grill.  Nothing tastes grilled and everything tastes the same.  The lines look like someone from Burger King may have drawn them on.  I digress.  So, as we approached, I noticed the beautiful tri-tip sitting on the corner of the table.  My first thoughts were of shock and horror.  Who would put such an amazing cut of beef on a gas grill?  Something like that should be treated with, at a bare minimum, the respect of a low set oven, surrounded with veggies and coated in a delicious marinade.  But alas, they threw it on the gas grill.  photo 15

That being said, They also had a great looking strip steak and some delicious looking veggies.  The food all tasted great.  Yes, the tri-tip was molested by the heat, and grey on the inside.  I was a bit horrified by it. But it tasted good, had great seasoning.  The steaks were fine, if not just a bit over medium.  The instructor was fantastic.  He spoke about the benefits of grilling on a gas grill and explained that these items were chosen due to how well they stand up to heat.  A gas grill is for convenience.  I’m home, it’s late, I want food cooked outside…you light the grill and it’s ready.  No waiting. No muss, no fuss.  To me, no waiting is no reason to over cook something as amazing as a tri-tip.

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Our second station was the charcoal grill.  THIS was where our money was spent.  They had a great set up.  Look at that amazing cooking surface.  The chef explained that he had half set up with coals and half without so that you had space to move your items over if they got too hot too fast.  He suggested that you do this even on your tiny baby 18 inch webber round charcoal grill.  They cooked chicken thighs, potatoes and pineapple on this grill.  Every bite came out perfectly cooked, juicy and well sauced.  I was in hog heaven.

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The pineapple they grilled whole.  It was on a giant skewer, coated with brown sugar and cinnamon.  They placed it on the grill, turning every so often, and cooked it for about 10 minutes.

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It was delicious.  We only got to sample the chicken and pineapple during this part of the class.  The potatoes and veggies were being prepared for the buffet that was to follow.

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It was nice to hear them talk about the benefits of charcoal grilling and to sample little bits of food as we went.  We did get to taste the potatoes inside and they were pretty good.

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The smoker was our final station.  It was interesting to learn how to make a trashcan smoker, and I fully intend on making one and posting all of the instructions.  As you can see, it’s a galvanized trash can with some L brackets inserted, two grill grates in place, and some holes at the bottom.

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Easy enough! Put a thermometer on top to make sure you can keep track of the temperature, and that’s all you need!

They cooked scallops, shrimp, fish and ribs using this method.  Well they talked about cooking them using this method, then admitted that to cook the ribs using this smoker, they would have had to start cooking them too early that morning, so they cooked them inside.  I was a bit disappointed by this.  They did give great tips on how to use a smoker, and the idea for building this one was worth the $50 in my opinion.

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Regardless of where the ribs were cooked, they tasted amazing!  The shrimp and scallops were just ok.

Throughout the entire event, servers were walking around handing out samples of Natty Green beers.  They were fantastic!  What a great addition.

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After the class, we headed back inside for the buffet and scotch tasting.  The scotches were provided by Glemnorangie, which is not my favorite brand but was a great finish to a great day of eating.

Overall, I throughly enjoyed the day.  I would have liked more hands on instruction, but with a crowd the size of ours, that would have taken all day.  The chefs were all very knowledgeable, when asked questions, and were willing to chat with us as long as they could.  I’d certainly go back just for the opportunity to eat the food and drink the beer.

Thanks, Backyard Bistro! What a great idea.

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