Korean BBQ Rice Bowls

Korean BBQ has been on my list to make for a while.  I was looking for something to grill for Father’s day that I could do hot and fast, as I did not have the patience for a long cook. I figured it would be a great time to give it a shot. Korean BBQ is traditionally cooked at the table by the diners on a small table top grill designed specifically for that purpose. You can use standard charcoal grill or even a gas grill in a pinch.  I used a Weber 22″ kettle (I have 5) with some Jealous Devil Max Xl Charcoal Briquets, and it worked great.

Meat For Korean BBQ

Korean BBQ includes several marinated meats including bulgogi (thinly sliced steak), kalbi or galbi (short ribs), and samgyeopsal (pork belly). For the samgyeopsal obviously I didn’t use pork, but I did have some beef bacon in the fridge I need to use up so it seemed like a good opportunity.  Ideally you would use fresh beef navel, but that can be hard to find, so I went with what I had. For the kalbi or galbi I used a thinly sliced mock tender from the chuck.  It is a poor man’s tenderloin, and if you slice it thin enough it works well for this application.


Traditional accompaniments eaten with Korean BBQ include several salads especially kimchi, a spicy fermented cabbage.  I wasn’t able to find kosher kimchi, and I wanted to make a quick version of my own.  For an approximation of kimchi I was able to find gochujang, a Korean fermented hot sauce, which I mixed with sauerkraut. If you can’t find gochujang, you can use sriracha as a substitute.

A sprinkle of scallions and toasted sesame seeds would also be appropriate here for some color, crunch, and to cut the richness and sweetness of the meat. While not traditional, I added some edamame (soy beans) still in the shell for a little freshness and a pop of color. I often eat  edamame straight from their pods as a snack, dipped in some spicy duck sauce. When you plate up, use a wide bowl.  Mine was too small, because that is what I had.

Don’t forget to check out some of our other Asian or BBQ recipes (great for the 4th of July)

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Kosher Korean BBQ Rice Bowl
Kosher Korean BBQ Rice Bowl
Prep Time
2 hrs
Cook Time
30 mins

A kosher version of a classic Korean meal, great for a twist on a summer BBQ.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, BBQ, Korean, Kosher
Keyword: BBQ, Korean, Korean BBQ, kosher
Servings: 2 People
Author: Daniel Peikes
Bulgogi (Thinly Sliced Steak) or Kalbi (Short Ribs)
  • 1 Pear (Use an Asian pear if you can find it, otherwise any pear will do) Peeled, cored, chopped, and blended smooth
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp White Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Ground Ginger
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • 1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Honey
  • 2 tbsp Mirin or Sherry
  • 2 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 lb Thinly Sliced Steak (Bulgogi)or Thinly Sliced Short Rib (Kalbi) Cut Across the Bones
Kosher Samgyeopsal (Beef Navel)
  • 1/2 lb Thick Cut Beef Bacon Raw beef navel would be more traditional but can be harder to come by
  • 2 Scallions Sliced Thin
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1 tsp Gochujang (Sriracha will do in a pinch)
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
Accompaniments and Garnishes
  • Black and White Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • Chopped Scallions
  • Frozen Edamame Still in the pod, steamed in the microwave
  • 2 Cups Cooked White Rice
Quick Kosher Kimchi
  • 1/2 Cup Sauerkraut
  • 1 Tbsp Gochujang (Sriracha will do in a pinch)
Bulgogi (Thinly Sliced Steak) or Kalbi (Short Ribs)
  1. You can use the same marinade for bulgogi or kalbi. If you are making both you may want to double the recipe.

  2. In a large bowl combine the pear, brown sugar, white pepper, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, mirin or sherry, honey, and toasted sesame oil. Add the steak or short ribs and allow to marinate for 1-4 hours

  3. Cook on a grill or on grill pan over high heat until nicely seared on each side,

Kosher Samgyeopsal (Beef Navel)
  1. In a large bowl combine the gochujang, scallion, lime juice, soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil. Add the beef bacon and allow to marinate for 1-4 hours

  2. Cook on a grill or on grill pan over high heat until nicely seared on each side,

Quick Kosher Kimchi
  1. In a small bowl combine the sauerkraut and gochujang. Mix thoroughly.

  1. Place you rice in a mound in a bowl. Top with your meat and garnish with kimchi, edamame, scallions, and black and white toasted sesame seeds.

Fried Halloumi Cheese Bites with Kansas City-style BBQ sauce

It’s been some time since I posted a recipe here on MYV and for good reason. Ellie and I closed on a condo a few weeks ago and we’re getting ready to move (don’t worry, just 2 blocks away). So needless to say, I’ve been a little preoccupied. BUT, since the Super Bowl is THIS SUNDAY, and my beloved Kansas City Chiefs are in it, yet AGAIN! So how could I not give ya’ll a recipe to kick off the big game. Ha, see what I did there? 🙂 And since KC is playing in the Super Bowl, I thought, why not make something with a KC-style BBQ sauce? So, I created a super-easy recipe for Fried Halloumi Cheese Bites with Kansas City-style BBQ sauce (sugar-free, by the way).

Crunchy Fried Goodness

Okay, so you most likely aren’t going to a big Super Bowl party this year or maybe you’ll just be watching it alone in your house, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make great party food. This recipe really does come together super quick. While you’re frying up the Haloumi cheese, you can make the BBQ sauce. Halloumi (or sometimes spelled “Haloumi”) is a semi-hard cheese made from a mixture of sheep’s milk and goat’s milk and sometimes cow milk is added in to. It has a really high melting point so it’s perfect for grilling or frying. Making these fried Halloumi bites would be a great “crouton” addition to your salad! If you can’t find Haloumi, try and look for Paneer, a cheese mainly used in Indian cuisine. I’ve found Paneer at both Costco and Restaurant Depot.  All you do is sprinkle the cubed Halloumi in some flour (I used coconut flour and some salt and pepper) and fry away. I just did a shallow pan fry but these will definitely be crispier if you deep fry or use your air fryer, if you have one.

KC style

Alright, don’t hate on me, but my BBQ sauce may not be the most super KC style ever, so I did tweak it a bit. But it’s okay to play with your food, right? Kansas City BBQ sauce is the perfect balance of both sweet and tangy flavors. Typically made with molasses and bright acidic flavors from tomato and vinegar, it also has the right balance of sweet and heat. It’s that classic, ketchup-based BBQ sauce that will be the perfect dipping sauce for these fried bites of goodness. I also made this recipe low carb and with only stevia instead of ketchup or adding additional sugar. But go ahead and use ketchup if you prefer it!

Be sure to check out Daniel’s Super Bowl recipe for Chicken Wings with a three different Sauces.

Want even MORE recipes to serve for the big game? Check out some of our favs!

“Bacon” Ranch Crack Dip

Grandma Janie’s Hot Mushroom Dip

Nacho Jalapeno Cheese Crisps

Tater Tot Nachos

Cheddar-stuffed Jalapeno Hush Puppies

Almond Butter Snickerdoodles

Happy Snacking and Super Bowl watching! Go CHIEFS!

0 from 0 votes
Fried Halloumi bites with Kansas City-style BBQ sauce
Course: Appetizer
Author: Rachel Katzman
Kansas City-style BBQ sauce (sugar-free)
  • 8 oz. Tomato Sauce (or Ketchup) Not pasta sauce, but just the canned tomato sauce, or the ones in the boxes
  • 2 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Worchestershire Sauce, or Coconut Aminos
  • 1 tsp. Liquid Smoke You can add another teaspoon if you like it more smoky, but start with 1 tsp to taste
  • 1 tbsp. Liquid Stevia Add more if you like it sweeter, but start with 1 tbsp. to taste
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Chili Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
Fried Halloumi Bites
  • 9 oz. Halloumi cheese Doesn't have to be exact weight here
  • 2 tbsp. All-purpose Flour, or Coconut Flour
  • Vegetable Oil, or Avocado Oil, for frying I did a shallow pan fry so I just added a little bit to start and fried the Halloumi, just start with a few drizzles and add more if you need
  1. Cut the cheese into cubes - whatever size you like!

  2. Spread the flour, salt and pepper on to a plate and roll the Halloumi on all sides, while it's wet

  3. Heat up the oil on medium heat, with a few tablespoons at a time and add more if you need. Add the cheese cubes and fry on all sides until crispy and golden (about 2-3 minutes). You're looking for the color of French Fries! But be careful they don't get too dark or burnt, but hey, unless you like burnt cheese

  4. Using tongs, or a slotted spoon (if deep frying), carefully lift the cheese cubes and let it cool slightly on a cooling rack with a paper towel underneath to catch any drippings

Make the BBQ sauce
  1. Add all ingredients in a saucepan and whisk until all ingredients are mixed

  2. Simmer on medium-low for about 5 minutes and let cool. Serve with Fried Halloumi bites!

Pit Beef With Homemade Horseradish Sauce

Pit BeefWith a small crowd this Passover I ended up with a quite a bit of leftover grated horseradish. I also had an extra French roast that sat uncooked in my freezer. The first thing that came to mind was roast beef with horseradish sauce, but I wanted to put my own spin on it.  The weather has also been getting better here, so I have been itching to fire up the grill. And then it came to me, pit beef. What is pit bit beef you ask? Pit beef is Baltimore’s answer to southern style BBQ. It takes a tough piece of meat and cooks it on a grill over charcoal or wood, and that is about where the similarity ends.

What is Pit Beef?

Pit beef uses a lean cut of meat cooked to medium rare, sliced thinly, and served on a kaiser roll.  It usually calls for an eye of round, but that is not a cut that is generally available in the kosher market.  The French roast I used seemed to work well and is readily available wherever kosher meat is sold.  Ideally you would cut it on a deli slicer, but that is not practical for the average home cook. Use your longest, thinnest, and sharpest knife.  Cut against the grain and take your time and it will be OK.

Most of the recipes I have seen for pit beef call for oregano (which to me sounds like Italian beef). I went with celery seed for a Chicago style twist (yes, I know a Chicago style hot dog uses celery salt not celery seed). The tricky part about making pit beef is getting medium rare most of the way through with a good char on the outside using the grill.  The way to accomplish this is to use two zone cooking to split your grill between direct and indirect heat.

Check out some of our other grilling recipes and BBQ related adventures here:

BBQ Related Posts

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Pit Beef
Pit Beef With Homemade Horseradish Sauce
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hr

Baltimore's answer to BBQ, with a Chicago twist.

Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Meat, Sandwich
Cuisine: American, BBQ, Kosher
Keyword: BBQ, Beef, kosher, pit beef
Author: Daniel Peikes
Pit Beef
  • 4 lb French Roast
  • 1/4 Cup Mustard
  • 3 tbsp Granulated Garlic Power
  • 3 tbsp Granulated Onion Powder
  • 3 tbsp Paprika
  • 2 tbsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Celery Seed
  • 6 Kaiser Rolls
  • Wood Chips Optional
  • Charcoal
  • 3 Onions Sliced into thick rounds
  • 3 Pickles Sliced into rounds
Horseradish Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Horseradish Root
  • 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Mustard
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Salt To taste
  • Pepper To taste
  1. Trim any silver skin or large pieces of fat from the roast. Also, trim off any thin pieces of meat from the end of the roast (they will burn) to get a nice uniform shape.

  2. Coat the roast on all sides with a thin layer of mustard.

  3. Combine the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and celery salt in a small mixing bowl. Coat the roast on all sides with a layer of the spice mixture. The layer of the spice mixture should be just thick enough so you can no longer see the mustard.

  4. Create a two zone fire in your grill. The goal of this is to create one area of your grill that is meant for high, direct heat similar to a stove, and a second area with lower, indirect heat similar to your oven. This is done by banking a small amount of coals on one side of your grill. I would recommend using fewer coals than you think you need. You can always add more coals to increase the heat, but it is a lot harder to remove lit coals to cool down your grill. If you have, throw on some wood chips or chunks for additional smoke flavor. The wood is not a must, but it is will give your meat a little something extra.

  5. Put the roast on the cooler, indirect heat side of the grill (the side without the coals). Put the probe from your thermometer in the middle of the thickest part of the roast. Cover the grill and allow the roast to cook until it hits 130°F.

  6. Once the roast hits 130°F remove the thermometer and move it to the hotter, direct heat side of the grill and cook on each side until you get a nice char. This should get the internal temperature to about 145°F, medium rare. Remove the roast from the grill to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil, allowing it to rest for at least ten minutes

  7. While the roast rests, throw the onions on the hot side of the grill and cook until they start to char. Keep an eye on them as they will burn easily and be careful to not let them slip through the gaps in the grill grate.

Horseradish Sauce
  1. Peel the horseradish and add it along with the mayo, garlic clove, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to the blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. This can be done in advance, but not too early or the horseradish will start losing its bite.

  1. Once the roast has rested, slice it as thin as you can against the grain. This will shorten the fibers of the meat creating a more tender tasting piece of meat.

  2. Toast the buns on the hot side of the grill, being careful not to let them burn. Put some of the horseradish sauce on the bottom of the bun, then the pickles, followed by the sliced beef. Top with the grilled onions and the top half of the bun. Serve immediately.


Pulled Beef Filled Mini Doughnuts With a Trio of BBQ Dipping Sauces

Pulled Beef DoughnutsWhat’s the Deal With Doughnuts

Chanukah (or Hanukkah if you prefer) is upon us. On of the things I love about Chanukah are the doughnuts (or is it donuts).  Ok, I love doughnuts any time of year, but on Chanukah I have a good excuse. Doughnuts, along with other fried foods such as latkes, are eaten on Chanukah to celebrate the miracle of one night’s worth of oil found after the Greeks invaded the Temple burning for eight nights in the menorah.

Everything is Better With Brisket

If you follow this blog,then you know one of my culinary passions is BBQ. How could I combine doughnuts and BBQ you ask? I happened to have a smoked 2nd cut brisket in freezer waiting for just such an occasion. I felt like I needed some sort of sauce to compensate for the lack of frosting or creamy filling.

This gave me the opportunity to showcase three different regional styles of BBQ sauce. You can choose to serve any or all of them. These included a spicy southwestern chipotle sauce, a sweet Dr. Pepper sauce in the Kansas City style, and finally a tangy South Carolina mustard sauce. I originally thought of adding the sauce to beef filling or tossing the doughnuts in the sauce, but after talking to some friends, I ultimately decided to keep the sauce on the side.  This allows the diner to chose the type and quantity of sauce the desire and prevents the doughnut from getting soggy.

Another goal of this recipe was to make something a little more bite sized. Smaller donuts make a great hors d’oeuvre for your holiday party or an appetizer for shabbat dinner. Originally, I planned to make doughnut holes (AKA munchkins), but soon learned they are too hard to stuff with the brisket. I eventually settled on a mini doughnut ball slightly larger than a golf ball, which worked perfectly. As I have said many times before, I am not baker so I did start with Alton Brown’s yeast doughnut recipe  and then modified it to be a bit fluffier and to make smaller, rounder doughnuts.

Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s latest Chanukah recipe for the other staple of the holiday: Potato Latke Waffles

0 from 0 votes
Pulled Beef Doughnuts
Pulled Beef Filled Mini Doughnuts
Prep Time
4 hrs
Cook Time
4 hrs

A savory twist on a Chanukah treat.

Course: Appetizer, Dessert, Hors d'oeuvre, Side, Snack
Cuisine: American, Holiday, Jewish, Kosher
Keyword: Beef, brisket, Doughnut, Pulled Beef
Servings: 12 Doughnuts
Author: Daniel Peikes
Doughnut Dough
  • 12 oz All Purpose Flour Yes, get a scale!
  • 2 Large Eggs Beaten
  • 1/4 cup (Non-dairy) Milk I used soy milk to keep it kosher, but if you don't need it to be kosher you can use regular milk.
  • 1-1/4 oz Vegetable Shortening
  • 2 Envelopes Instant Yeast
  • 1/3 cup Warm Water About 110°F
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 cup Sugar Optional, if you want a sweet doughnut
  • Vegetable Oil For Frying. Enough to come 3" up the side of your pot.
Pulled Beef
  • 1 2nd Cut Brisket or Chuck Roast
  • 4 Cups Beef Stock Homemade would be best, but boxed will work in a pinch. You may not need all of it.
  • 1 Carrot Peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 Onion Peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Peeled and roughly chopped
  • Salt and Pepper To taste
  1. Add the yeast and warm water to small bowl and stir until the yeast is completely wet.

  2. In another bowl combine the (non-dairy) milk and the shortening. Microwave until the shortening is melted, about 30 seconds. Alternately, you could heat the mixture in a saucepan. Set the mixture aside to cool.

  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the yeast and water mixture, the shortening and milk mixture, the salt, and the eggs, with the paddle attachment on the "stir" setting. At this point, add the sugar if you want a sweet doughnut. Slowly incorporate the flour until the mixture forms a cohesive mass.

  4. Switch to the dough hook and and knead for 5 minutes.

  5. Move the dough to an oiled bowl and cover. Allow the dough to rise on the counter until it doubles in size.

  6. Divide into 12 pieces and roll each piece in to a ball a little larger than a golf ball and allow them to rise on the counter until they double in size again.

  7. Add 3 inches of oil to a large heavy pot or dutch oven and put on the stove over medium heat. Once the oil get to 350°F, fry the doughnuts in batches on each side until golden brown.

  8. Put aside to cool.

Pulled Beef
  1. Season the brisket or chuck roast heavily with salt and pepper.

  2. Add the carrots, onions, and garlic, to a large pot or Dutch oven. Place the meat on top of the vegetables. Add enough of the beef stock to cover the meat about 3/4 of the way.

  3. Cover the pot and place the it on the stove over medium heat and allow the meat to braise until tender.

  4. Once the meat is tender, remove from the pot and allow it to rest until cool enough to handle, and shred using two forks.

  5. Using a knife, cut a slit in the doughnuts and stuff with the meat. Serve immediately with the BBQ sauce of your choice.

0 from 0 votes
Pulled Beef Doughnuts
Chipolte BBQ Sauce
Prep Time
5 mins

Add a kick to your cooking

Course: Sauce
Cuisine: BBQ, Mexican, Southern
Keyword: BBQ, Chipotle, Sauce
Servings: 1 Cup
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 3/4 Cup Ketchup
  • 3 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped These come in a small can is the Latin food section of your local grocery store.
  • 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tbsp Ground Cumin
  1. Add all the ingredients to a small sauce pot and simmer until all the solids are dissolved.

0 from 0 votes
Pulled Beef Doughnuts
South Carolina Mustard Sauce
Prep Time
2 mins

A tangy sauce from the south

Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: BBQ, Mustard
Servings: 1 Cup
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 1/2 Cup Yellow Mustard
  • 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Prepared Horseradish Mayo Sauce
  1. Add all the infringements in a bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined.

5 from 1 vote
Pulled Beef Doughnuts
Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: BBQ
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 1/2 Cup Dr. Pepper Syrup You can reduce a 2L of Dr Pepper or use Soda Stream Dr. Pete Sparkling Drink Mix
  • 1 Cup Ketchup
  • 1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 Cup Molasses
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pot and simmer for about 10 minutes on low heat while stirring regularly.


“Hava NaGrilla” – Philadelphia Kosher Smoke BBQ Festival recap!

Philly, here we come!

On this 4th of July, America’s Independence Day, it feels appropriate to share my recap of the Philadelphia Kosher BBQ “Hava Nagrilla” festival from just nearly 2 weeks ago, where your fav team, “5 Dudes & A Vegetarian” competed! So here you go, ‘Murica – Happy Birthday!

But really, what isn’t more American than BBQ? 🙂

Let’s take this back to Friday, June 21st.  Peikes, Ellie and I boarded a very early flight from Midway. Got the rental car, ran a few errands (thank you Dollar Tree for selling KOSHER hot dog buns), picked up Debbie, and headed to the neighborhood of Bala Cynwyd, where we stayed for Shabbat.

Welcome to Philadelphia.  The city of brotherly love, cheesesteaks (if they’re kosher, even better), the Fresh Prince, and Rocky Balboa.

The Italian Stallion

Our lovely hosts (thank you Charlotte & Mordy) had everything prepped for our stay, so we had a few hours to kill.  What’s one of my bucket list places to visit in Philly?  Sadly, no, we didn’t have time to go see the Liberty Bell, or Congressional Hall, or any Art Museums (next trip though…).  No, this time, it was the Rocky Statue (cue the theme music), albeit the line to take photos in front was crazy-long.

But then it was time for the “Rocky steps” right beside the statue. Peikes and Ellie raced, while I decided to run up behind them, all while capturing this on video.  But, didn’t quote go as planned. When you’re “vertically challenged” and you decide to try and run those steps 2 at a time, it’s not the best idea.  It started out great, all hyped up, but I just ended up tripping over myself (sigh…). Oh well, it was funny (if you want to see that video, check us out at @meatyourvegetables on Instagram and click the Philly BBQ highlights)!

Fast forward to a lovely Shabbat, PERFECT weather and before we knew it, time to head over to the venue to start our smokers!

Teams, start your smokers!

The event was held in the parking lot of Temple Beth Hillel – Beth El.  The space was great (and it’s always good to have the synagogue available all night.  I mean, who really wants to use porta-potties).  There were 20 teams at the festival – one of the largest!  Some are good friends of ours who we have competed with a lot over the last few years.  It’s always good competition when you’re competing against the best of the best, right?

And now for the fun part.  Fast forward a few hours. The brisket and ribs are trimmed. The chicken thighs prepped. Turkey wings?  Well that threw us for a loop at the get-go, but we ended up using the drumette, so either way, we got those prepared too!  Proteins are rubbed, and the meat injected.

Time for a quick commercial break…

In the meantime, a few mishaps along the way.  A team just a few yards away from us had some stuff stolen (iPads, wallets) – the jury is still out on if they got anything back.  Debbie unfortunately had a quick bout of sickness (sorry, Debs), so I stepped in to help finish the chicken prep.  I must say, it’s not the sexiest job for a vegetarian. I mean, cutting through bone, cleaning the skin, it’s pretty gross, BUT our chicken thighs turn out so darn cute when they’re all rolled up and ready go to bathe in margarine (I know, I know), chicken stock and BBQ seasoning.

The last thing on the list to complete?  Chili.  There were 25 people chosen to sample each team’s chili.  Most of the teams were not thrilled with this, since it wasn’t part of the KCBS judging, we didn’t put in as much time and love as the 4 proteins that were being judged and truthfully, it wasn’t our shining moment.  Our chili was a tomato-based chili with salsa, leftover burnt ends, and garlic sausages that came all the way from Romanian Kosher Sausage in Chicago.  Nonetheless, we didn’t win that category.  Oh well.

Time to announce the winners!

After all was said and done, we were VERY happy with how we placed – especially in the company of 20 teams!  Our team, 5 Dudes & A Vegetarian placed 3rd in Turkey, 3rd in Chicken, and 7th place overall (and a $100 cash prize)!  We didn’t do as well in the Ribs and Brisket categories, but we have some ideas how to improve for the next BBQ competition (which is uh, next weekend)!

Needless to say, we are definitely proud of our performance at the first BBQ competition of 2019.  1 down, 2 more to go!  See you in Cincinnati July 14th, and Dallas, October 27th!

And no… we cannot promise we’ll have any leftovers to bring home. 🙂

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Better Burger Guide for Memorial Day (and Lag BaOmer)

BurgerThis coming Monday is Memorial Day, which is the unofficial start of summer, and Lag BaOmer, which was this week, plays a similar role on the Jewish calendar. More importantly it signals the start of grilling* season, although I personally believe if you try hard enough, any season is grilling season. The staple of any good grill session is the humble hamburger. I want to take you on a journey beyond the basic burger and bun bonding and explore the intricacies of this iconic institution.

It seems these days there are high end hamburger huts hitting every ‘hood, but paying $20 for a burger hurts. You can definitely make a perfect patty in your personal palace for a petite percentage of that price. Composing a burger is not hard, it is little bit like putting on a play or making a movie. If you pick the the right star, supporting actors, and a good setting, it forms a cohesive story and things come together nicely.  With some simple techniques, basic ingredients, and a little creativity you can make a burger as good as any greasy spoon.

Burger Ingredients

Where’s the Beef?

I recommend preparing all your components ahead of cooking, a process the French refer to as ‘mise en place’ which means “everything in its place”. For that reason, I will start with the ingredients and leave the cooking for last. When designing a burger, I like to start from the middle and work my way out. The patty should be the star of the show, with everything else complimenting it. Beef is the obvious place to start, but what kind of beef to get is the question. Most people will just pick up a pound or two of ground beef when making burgers, but what are they really getting? Ground beef is defined by the USDA as follows:

“Chopped Beef” or “Ground Beef” shall consist of chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without seasoning and without the addition of beef fat as such, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders.

Generally kosher ground beef comes from the chuck (AKA the shoulder) of the cow, although it can technically it can come from any (kosher) part of the cow. The chuck has a good amount flavor and fat due to the fact that it is a muscle that the cow is constantly using.  If you like, you can ask your butcher to  grind a specific cut to get a different flavor and texture but expect to pay more for the privilege.  Occasionally you will see ground meat in the grocery store marked “Hamburger” which is defined by the USDA as follows:

“Hamburger” shall consist of chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without the addition of beef fat as such and/or seasoning, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders.

So the basic difference between “Ground Beef” and “Hamburger” is (assuming you have an honest butcher) “Hamburger” can have fat added to it and “Ground Beef” cannot. At the end of the day there is very little difference. What I pay more attention to is the fat content.

Facts About Fat

You need a good amount of fat for juicy burger so I wouldn’t worry if your meat gets close to the 30% limit set by the USDA. As I said before, most kosher ground beef comes from the chuck and ground chuck is usually 80 to 85 percent lean or 15 to 20 percent fat, which I think works well for a burger. I wouldn’t go any leaner than that, and I would definitely stay away from anything marked “Extra Lean”. Remember, fat is flavor! So for my money off the shelf kosher ground beef, is way to go. Just make sure to check that the fat content is at least 15%.

Other Options

For something a little fancier, try making your patty out of ground veal or lamb both of which should contain the requisite amount of fat. If you want something healthier you can try ground turkey but make sure not to dry it out. Finally for the vegetarians you could go with some sort of veggie burger, but you would need to ask Rachel about that.

Patty Formation

I like my hamburgers on the larger size, what one might refer to as a pub burger. I would go with 8 oz of meat shaped in to a 1-1/4″ thick by 4″ in diameter patty. Don’t pack your meat too tight, and don’t overwork it. Just lightly shape the burger using a minimal amount of pressure or you will end up with a tough and dense hockey puck.


Seasoning in a burger acts like make up for an actor, they are there to bring out the best qualities of the star. Good beef needs little more than salt or pepper.  People debate if you should season your meat before making your patties. I generally don’t, especially because kosher meat is somewhat salted in the koshering process, and I don’t feel the need to add another step.  That being said I always season the tops and bottoms of my burgers.

If you really want to, you can use something like seasoned salt or your favorite rub to add a little flavor, but realize you are covering up the flavor of the beef. NEVER mix things like onions, garlic, bread crumbs, or matzo meal in to your burger mixture. You will just end up overpowering the flavor of the meat and creating a burger that either falls apart or is dry. Some people like to add egg as binder, but I have never seen a good reason to do so. I prefer to add my flavor augmentation via toppings and sauces.

Burger Toppings

Toppings and sauces are the supporting actors that provide some variety in the burger show. The options for burger topping are endless. The trick is to use restraint and make sure there is balance.  I would limit it to four toppings. Lettuce, pickles, onions, and tomatoes are classic, although I personally abhor raw tomatoes and raw onions. However, I love caramelized onions. Sauteed mushrooms are a great option to add an earthy note that pairs well with the smokey flavor of (Kosher) bacon. Pickles add acidity along with a great crunch to almost any topping combination. Finally, if you want to add some richness and moisture there is nothing like a sunny side up egg with a runny yolk.

One final note on toppings, cheese is notably absent from this guide. As a kosher keeper, mixing milk and meat products is prohibited for me and the few times I have tried non-dairy cheese it just has not been to my liking. For me a fried egg adds the gooeyness and richness that the cheese gives.  That being said, if kosher isn’t your thing, go for the cheese.


When it comes to sauces use extreme restraint. Too much sauce is a one way ticket to a soggy bun. Limit your number of sauces to a maximum of two, one of which should be mayonnaise based. I recommend putting your mayo based sauces on the bottom half of your bun, as the fat in the mayo will act as a moisture barrier to prevent your bun from getting soggy.  Thousand Island or “Special Sauce” are mayo based classics, but you can use mayo to carry all sorts of flavors. I love adding sriracha to my mayo for a little kick or some garlic and tarragon for some zip. For sweeter sauces obviously ketchup is a classic, but feel free to make a barbecue sauce like my Dr. Pepper sauce as a way of taking it up a notch.  Finally, it is my opinion that mustard never belongs on a hamburger. Save it for the hot dogs.


If the meat is the star of the show and toppings and sauces are the supporting actors, then the bun is the setting. It shouldn’t be too big, small, hard, or soft. Pick your bun based on what is going in it which is why I put buns last in the ingredient section.  Your bun should have roughly the same diameter as your cooked burger. If you have a lot of soft ingredients use a softer bun, if you have some heartier ingredients use a little harder of a bun.

All buns should be toasted to help prevent them from getting soggy, but make sure your temperature is hot enough to toast the surface to a golden brown without drying the bun out and not so hot that it burns. Never walk away from your buns while they are toasting, or they will burn.

The standard sesame seed bun is a classic that you can never go wrong with. The sesame seeds add just touch of texture to an otherwise soft bun that takes it from one note to a melody. Pretzel buns have become extremely popular lately. They are a little more hearty than your standard burger bun, making it great for a burger that is a little on the wetter side. For something a little different, try an onion or kaiser roll.

Cooking Your Burger

Burgers On The GrillAs far as I am concerned, to cook a burger correctly you need direct heat, applied either via a grill or a griddle, to create a sear. A sear is the brown crust that forms on meat when cooked with direct heat, that adds a tone of flavor.  With apologies to mothers everywhere, baking a burger on a sheet pan is not the way to do it. You end up without any sear and by the time your burger is cooked through, it is usually dry and sitting in a pool of grease.

By using direct heat you take advantage of the Maillard reaction which creates a sear and cooks your burger with enough heat to cook it through without drying it out. Don’t over cook your burgers. I personally think a burger should be cooked to a perfect medium, but if you like it cooked a little more I recommend making your patty thinner.

Grilling Your Burger

If you know me, you know I love cooking outdoors over charcoal. Rachel and I have been competing in Kosher BBQ competitions for about 5 years. Cooking over charcoal adds a great char flavor. Start by building yourself a nice hot fire with all of your coals on one half of your grill, creating what I refer to as a 2 stage fire. If you have a chimney starter use it, it is a great way to get your charcoal hot quickly, but never use lighter fluid as it can give your burgers a chemical flavor.  Don’t put your burgers on until your coals are all white otherwise you might end up with some acrid flavors.

Grill your burgers until you get a sear on each side, flipping only once. Whatever you do, please don’t smash your burgers, you will just squeeze out all of the juiciness. If after you get your sear you want your burger cooked a bit more, move it to the side of the grill without coals and put the lid on for a few minutes to achieve your desired level of doneness. You can accomplish a similar result with a gas grill by only turning on only half of your burners, although you won’t get the same flavor you get from charcoal.

Fried/Griddled Burgers

Not everyone has the ability to cook outside. Maybe it’s too cold where you live (not that weather is a real excuse), or you live in an apartment without any place to grill (you should really consider moving). If your stove has a griddle attachment use it, otherwise I recommend using a cast iron skillet. Put the skillet over high heat. After a couple of minutes hold your hand over the skillet and if can’t hold your hand over the pan more than 3 seconds it is hot enough. Now cook your burgers similarly to way I described above when using a grill. Cook on each side until you get a sear on each side flipping only once. If you want to cook your burger a bit more, pop the skillet in a 350°F oven until you achieve your desired level of doneness.

Is there one right way to make a burger? I don’t think so. But I know there are definitely wrong ways. I hope I have been able to impart some wisdom when it comes to burger cookery, or at least teach you what not to do. How do you like your burger? Do you put any interesting toppings or sauces on your burger? Do you have any other burning burger questions? Let us know in the comments.

*You’ll notice nowhere in this post did I use the terms BBQ, barbecue, or barbeque with the exception of when referring to sauce. Burgers are grilled not barbecued. What’s the difference you ask? About 300°F and several hours, but that my friends is a discussion for another time.

Destination: Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship and Cookbook Giveaway


Before we get to the dish on Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship, don’t forget to enter our giveaway for the new cookbook
Perfect Flavors: Creative, easy-to-prepare recipes inspired by my family and travels by Naomi Nachman:

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Destination: Dallas

About 3 weeks ago Rachel, Elliott (Rachel’s husband) and I headed down to the Lone Star State for the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship. We compete under the team name of Five Dudes and Vegetarian. Thanks to my awesome wife Ronit for holding down the fort while I was off having fun.

A Little Bit About Kosher KCBS Competitions

I am going to pause here and provide a little background on the format of kosher BBQ competitions established by the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS):

Teams compete in four categories: chicken, beef ribs, turkey, and brisket. They are judged by six judges on taste, tenderness, and presentation. Judges score entries on a scale of 2-9, with the lowest judge’s score dropped. The scores are then tallied and the winners are announced.

In order to keep everything kosher, the competition provides all of the equipment, meat, and ingredients.  Usually, there is prep time Thursday night or Friday morning ahead of the event. At this point meat, ingredients, and utensils are given out and access to a kosher kitchen is provided.  The event swings into full gear Saturday night, where the teams are provided a smoker and a grill. They then start cooking, drinking, and having an all around good time.  The teams’ pit-masters tend their fires throughout the night until it is time to turn their hard work in to the judges.

Getting Going

We headed out to the airport at about 3:30 AM with what seamed like the slowest Uber driver ever. We made it in plenty of time for our 5 AM flight.  After an uneventful flight we grabbed a rental car and headed to Benny’s Bagels where we grabbed breakfast.  Rachel and I got omelets, which to our surprise, they make in the microwave, and Elliott had a bagel and cream cheese.  The food was decent for a small bagel joint, but nothing to write home about.

Prep Party

We then headed to Congregation Beth Torah, the organization that was hosting the the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship to start prepping for the competition. Most of the local teams had prepped the night before, so it was a pretty light crowd. Shortly after we arrived, our friend and kosher BBQ legend Mendel Segal of Backyard BBQ and Brew in South Florida showed up. He joined us at our Airbnb for Shabbat.  It was great to hang out with him for the weekend.

Rachel got started on blending our rubs and simmering our sauce, I started trimming the brisket, and I think Elliott made some phone calls when he wasn’t schmoozing with his mohel (he was born in Dallas) who also happened to be the mashgiach for the event.

Once I was done trimming the brisket, I rubbed it will our classified combination of spices and injected it with our secret elixir (If I ever obtain a 1st place prize in brisket I’ll publish my recipe). Then it was on to the turkey.  We decided to spatchcock the turkey, which involves removing the back bone and pressing down on the breasts to flatten to bird so it cooks evenly. I then injected the turkey with another concoction, and placed a compound margarine under the skin.  Finally we let the bird bathe in broth until we were ready to cook it on Sunday.

We intentionally deferred chicken prep until Saturday night.  It was was Rachel’s call, as it fell to her to do chicken prep as Debbie, our teammate that usually handles the chicken, did not make the trip. The ribs were not available yet, so we cleaned up and headed out.

Run Around Town

The next stop was Dollar Tree. There is no place better for all the bits and pieces you need to compete in a BBQ competition, or host a Shabbat in a converted garage Airbnb. While we were out we checked out Boot Barn where I bought myself a belt buckle, as well as a Penzey Spices where I went for the free smells.

Then it was off to the new kosher grocery and deli Kosher Palate to pick up some lunch and our Shabbat food.  I was able to pick up pretty much everything I needed for Shabbat from grape juice to dessert and everything in between. They have some solid food.  I especially liked their Ali’s (named for the chef) chicken, a roast chicken with Mediterranean flavors. We did a little more running around and checked out the local big box grocery store with a large kosher section and then headed to the Airbnb to get ready for Shabbat.

Sabbatical Suds

We got to the Airbnb and after some confusion about how to get in, we started to unload the car and unpack. The Airbnb was small but cozy. Perfect for a quiet Shabbat before the all the excitement of a an overnight BBQ competition.  About 45 minutes before Shabbat was to begin Mendel Segal showed up.  Friday afternoons with Mendel means one thing, “Beer Before Shabbos”. Beer before Shabbos is short video Mendel does most weeks where he picks a beer to taste and briefly talk about.  Elliott and I got our 15 seconds of fame as guests on that week’s episode.

Shabbat was fairly uneventful.  We went to shul, ate, and tried to get as much sleep as possible. We knew we needed all the rest we could get before the competition.  The Shabbat meals were nice and the company was excellent.  The food from Kosher Palate was tasty and spending time with Mendel, Elliott, and Rachel is always enjoyable.

BBQ Bonanza

After Shabbat we quickly packed up and checked out of the Airbnb and headed to the contest grounds to get set up.  With this contest being later in the year, Shabbat was over fairly early, allowing us plenty of time to get organized and relax before the brisket needed to go on the smoker.

Once we got to the contest it was the prefect example of organized chaos.  A lot of stuff going on all at once, but all in near-perfect harmony.  The organizers seemed to have a perfect handle on everything going on and the volunteers worked diligently to make sure everything went off without a hitch.  Special thanks to Brian Rubenstein and Sandy Dorf. They bent over backwards to make sure all the teams that traveled in from out of state were well taken care of.

Rolling Smoke

After getting set up and having a few shots we threw a few hot dogs on the grill for dinner and waited for the time to come to put the brisket on.  Eventually 1 AM came around and it was time get the brisket to get started.  I don’t know why, but I had the hardest time getting my smoker up to 250°F.  We were using a Weber Smokey Mountain* which is a model I am very familiar with and is quickly becoming the standard for Kosher BBQ competitions, but something just wasn’t clicking.

My theory is the issue was with the charcoal I was using.  I was using a brand that I was not used to and it created a lot of ash. The other possibility was I was just not getting a good seal and my smoker was leaking heat.  The lid to my smoker didn’t fit quite right which likely was contributing to the issue.

Size Does Matter

Soon after setting up we received our ribs, which were huge!  This created a space issue.  Usually kosher competitions provide a 22″ Weber Smokey Mountain* and a 22″ Weber Kettle*. When we have smaller ribs, and a turkey breast as opposed to whole bird, we are generally able to fit everything on the smoker without the use of the Weber kettle.  Due to the volume of meat we had to cook I ended up doing the turkey on the kettle. The kettle was bit hotter than I wanted and the dark meat got a little dry.

Here Comes the Sun

The ribs went on around 6 AM, a little earlier than usual due to their large size.Shachris Selfie We then managed to pull together a minyan for Shacharit  followed by a Kosher BBQ Competition Shacharit selfie with Mendel Segal, which has become a standing tradition.

Breakfast, featuring bagels and coffee provided by the contest organizers along with shakshuka and french toast that Rachel made were soon to follow. That’s right Rachel managed to make french toast in a foil pan on a charcoal grill.

After breakfast the chicken and turkey went on and the event opened to public.  There were all sorts of vendors and activities. I can’t reiterate enough how well this event was organized.

Time for Turn-Ins

A little bit before noon was when the real fun began. Turn-ins were every half hour starting at noon.  The energy of the teams putting together their boxes to be presented to the judges is one of those things that defies words.  You really need to experience it. (That is an invitation for all of you to visit us at the next competition.)


The first category was chicken which came out decently. It is hard to get the pieces to be perfectly uniform when using kosher thighs, as they can vary in size and come with rib bones attached. I can’t complain too much about the chicken though, as we scored better than expected.


While the ribs were very large and didn’t lay out well in the pan (we used foil pans instead of the standard foam boxes due to the size), they were excellent quality plate ribs, which are meatier than the back ribs we usually use. Our ribs came out pretty good, not sure why we didn’t score better.  I can only theorize that in Texas they like their ribs a little less sweet than we make them.


The turkey breast came out pretty moist, but I need to work on my presentation for it. As I mentioned earlier the dark meat came out a bit dry so I didn’t end up putting any in my box.


Our brisket took forever to get to temp, but eventually got there.  I let some other teams taste my brisket and received positive feedback, but I think the pieces that went to the judges just weren’t the best.  In the future I plan to cut the whole brisket and then decide what to put in our box for the judges.

Celebrity Judges

We also provided small portions of all four categories for a panel of celebrity judges, as well as turkey and brisket for the spectators for the People’s Choice award. The celebrity judges included some serious BBQ royalty including Jill Grobowsky Bergus, owner of Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas, one of the oldest and well known BBQ joints in Texas. Along side her was Daniel Vaughn who has my dream job, the BBQ editor for Texas Monthly Magazine and Gabe Boxer AKA The Kosher Guru.


Smokey DanielWe took fifth overall. If you take into account the fact that second, third, and fourth place were separated by less than a point, and the guy who took first has his own BBQ restaurant, I think we did pretty well. After the awards we headed to a local heath club to grab a quick shower. We then headed to the airport for a fairly uneventful flight followed my an Uber home. As soon as I got home I passed out. It was a whirlwind trip, but a lot of fun.  We are hoping to return next year, and hope to see you all there!

Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s take on the contest: 2 Dudes & a Vegetarian Do Dallas and Cookbook Giveaway!

*This post contains affiliate links. We at MYV earn a small commission if you purchase an item through one of those links, which allows us to continue bringing you great tasting food.

2 Dudes (& a Vegetarian) Do Dallas…oh, and Cookbook Giveaway!


Before I get to the “dish” on the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship, don’t forget to enter our giveaway for the new cookbook Perfect Flavors: Creative, easy-to-prepare recipes inspired by my family and travels by Naomi Nachman!

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The Dish on Dallas

Debbie didn’t do Dallas.  At least not this year. 🙂  Debbie IS one of our beloved teammates on the Kosher BBQ competition circuit, but alas, I couldn’t avoid that joke… #sorrynotsorry.

Let’s travel back to 2 weeks ago, Friday October 26th.  Our BBQ team “5 Dudes and a Vegetarian” (only 2 dudes this time), hopped on a 5 AM flight (gross, I know) and made our way to the Lone Star state! Tired, hungry, but full of adrenaline, we made it to the shul in time for prep.  And let me say, as someone who is very organized, I was thrilled to be part of the most organized BBQ prep I’ve ever seen!  The table of ingredients had rows of spices, herbs and sauces lined up oh-so perfectly.  It made finding our spices to make the base rub so much easier!  This Dallas Kosher BBQ competition is shaping up to be pretty great!

2 hours later, the brisket has been trimmed, the rubs and sauce are made, the turkey spatchcocked, injected and rubbed and we’re finished for now.  The ribs weren’t available until Saturday night and chicken?  Well, we can wait on that too.

Next, we headed to the semi-new Kosher market and take-out BBQ place, Kosher Palate.  We ordered ahead and picked up food for Shabbat, including chicken, green bean salad, cucumber salad, & chicken fingers (we did an Airbnb for Shabbat, and the one and only Mendel Segal of RaBBi-Q joined us)!  And we had JUST enough time to fit in a “Beer Before Shabbos” video!  Check it out here!

Shabbat was restful and relaxing – even in our tiny garage home for the night. It was the perfect set-up for a BBQ competition weekend.  Nothing fancy needed here – just good food and good company.

Let the Battle Begin

Saturday night the fun begins!  Tents, tables, equipment are being set up.  Proteins arrive.  Our station is organized (you’re welcome). Of course, the moment I turned on my phone, I heard about the horrible tragedy in Pittsburgh. The atmosphere became a bit more somber.  Just remember to hug and kiss your loved ones and keep them safe. Ultimately, I cannot thank the police enough for being at the event all night and all day and for keeping us safe!  Thank you Blue!

Midnight rolls around and I’m up!  It’s time for me to prep the chicken!  I honestly don’t know why I volunteer to do the least-appealing (pretty gross) job in this competition. I mean, chopping off knuckles, pulling out tendons, and thinning skin is not exactly a vegetarian’s paradise, but those chicken thighs looked mighty adorable when they were all done if I say so myself.

A long night ahead.  I probably fell asleep for about 10 minutes, but as usual, I caught a second wind.

The sun has risen and the men are davening Shacharit.  That’s my cue to make breakfast! As always, bfast consists of shakshuka on the grill. This time we added French Toast, made with a leftover challah from Shabbat!  #breakfastFTW

And now the REAL fun begins.  Countdown to turn-in times.

Feeding BBQ Aficionados

But first – let’s introduce the celebrity panel!  This is just pure fun, bringing some meat selections from each team to this very talented group of chefs and foodies!  They ate, chatted with the crowd and ultimately gave out judges’ favorites awards!

Let me introduce you to…

  • Vicki Nivens – owner of Hard Eight BBQ for over 15 years and has overseen the growth to over 4 locations across North Texas with a 5th on its way!
  • Jody Dean – longtime host of 98.7 FM KLUV morning drive and BBQ aficionado (returned to the event for his 4th year in a row!)
  • Jill Grobowsky Bergus – born into BBQ royalty and owner of Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas (where NO forks and NO sauce are apparently the norm)
  • Daniel Vaughn – one of, if not THE most well-known and recognizable BBQ aficionados throughout Texas, he recently won a national magazine award for Texas Monthly’s 2017 Top 50 BBQ issue and published his first book The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue in 2013
  • John Tesar – executive chef and partner of the renowned Knife Dallas (named “Best Steakhouse” by Dallas Magazine in 2015 AND 2016), 4-time James Beard “Best Southwest Chef” semifinalist and contestant on the hit Bravo show “Top Chef”
  • Gabriel Boxer – known as the “Kosher Guru”, is a leading expert in the kosher food industry and restaurant consultant and runs one of the largest kosher foodie Facebook groups “Kosher Guru’s Kosher Nation”

Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to chat with the celeb panel, but it looked like they were having a great time!  And how could they NOT?  Free BBQ!

Time For Turn-Ins

All the while the crowd was enjoying the fantastic event (lots of kids activities and local vendors), the teams were getting their turn-in boxes prepped perfectly for the judges.  Chicken, ribs, turkey and brisket.  Each turn-in a half hour apart.  Meat sliced to perfection (or so we thought, fingers crossed). 7 portions laid out on the folded piece of foil inside a white Styrofoam container – very fancy here.  Spills wiped up and time checked.  All 4 proteins submitted to the judges successfully!

Amazing Organizers

Before I get into HOW we placed in each category, I personally want to thank Brian Rubenstein and Sandy Dorf for their hard work on running this amazing event.  I have never seen such incredible organization. Even though little glitches popped up (it happens in any event, right) I can speak for our entire that team that we were so overwhelmed by the love and support and for you and Sandy truly going above and beyond to help us, especially as we traveled for the event.  Brian – I know you REALLY wanted us to be there and we are so thrilled that we got the chance to come!  It’s been so much fun getting to know you over the years and we would LOVE to come back next year.

Ready for the Results

So how did we place?  Well, we won 4th place in chicken, 4th place in turkey, 5th place in ribs and 5th overall!  Not bad considering we competed against some serious BBQ veterans!  And the 2nd, 3rd and 4th places were only separated by less than 1 point!  So I’d say we did pretty well!

Well, we’ve already marked our calendars for next year’s event – October 27th, 2019!

Check out some pix from the big event!

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*This post contains affiliate links. We at MYV (Meat Your Vegetables) earn a small commission if you purchase an item through one of those links, which allows us to continue bringing you great tasting food.

Mr. Peikes Goes to Seattle, Washington or the Time I Flew With 100 lbs of Meat


Before we get into my epicurean adventures in the Seattle don’t forget to enter our giveaway for the cookbook Millennial Kosher by Chanie Apfelbaum of the amazing kosher food blog Busy In Brooklyn
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Hello Seattle

For Labor Day weekend my friends Ari and Jessica Hoffman invited me to come out an visit them in Seattle.  Seattle has been on my high on my list of a places to visit for a long time, so as soon as my wife gave me the OK, I jumped at the chance. This was not just a pleasure trip, that is where the 100 lbs of meat come in, but more on that later.


After a long Uber ride through Chicago’s afternoon rush hour traffic I made it to Midway Airport.  You should have seen the looks I got from the gate agents when they weighed my boxes, which of course were a little over weight, and I started pulling out salami’s and throwing them in my carry-on. After bribing the agents with a little 1/2 pound salami that brought with me for just such an occasion, I headed to the gate.  After a four hour flight, with a baby screaming in the next row over, I made it to safely to Sea-Tac Airport.  The meat made it safely as well, although it came back to me with a lot of TSA tape on the boxes.  Ari picked me up in his pickup truck so there was plenty of room for the meat and we headed back to his place. After a quick bite to eat, I crashed for the night.


I woke up Friday to the most amazing view from Ari’s balcony.


Rachel the Piggy Bank is the mascot of Pike’s Place Market and one of our best public fundraisers. She has been “bringing home the bacon” for The Market Foundation since 1986, raising more than $200,000 and counting

I then headed out to explore the city. Unfortunately the streets of Seattle are not as pretty as the view.  Seattle has a terrible homelessness problem, with many people living in tents and RVs.

Top on my list of things to see was Pike’s Place Market. According to the website, Pike’s Place Market is Seattle’s original farmer’s market.  It is right on the water and is huge.  It is about 3 blocks long on both sides of the street and is multiple stories.  I literally let myself get lost there for three hours.  You can find anything  there, from vegetables to video games.  They are famous for their fish monger who throws fish from a front display case to behind the counter for wrapping.  It was mildly amusing, but somewhat underwhelming.

I was hoping to pick up some Britt’s Pickles from their stand while I was there (I am sucker for a good local small batch pickle), but they opened late that day.  Luckily Ari and Jessica had some in their fridge and I got a chance to taste them later that weekend.  Overall a very tasty pickle, but definitely not traditional.  Britt’s Pickles have a whole lot going on in the flavor department.  While many pickles have a dominant flavor like garlic or dill, the variety of Britt’s I tried were extremely complex.

That Pickle GuyI did find one of my favorite Chicago based pickled products there. One of the stores there carries “That Pickle Guy” products which are made in Chicago and are certified kosher by Chicago Rabbinical Council.

I wrapped up my visit to Pike’s Place with a visit to “original” Starbucks, or at least the location where the original one moved to.  It is really just another Starbucks like any other, with a longer line.

After finishing up at Pike’s Place I met back up with Ari and we headed to Pabla Indian Cuisine for their lunch buffet, which had a decent selection although not excessive and included some tasty fried dumplings.  It Indian Foodseemed like a fairly typical kosher vegetarian Indian restaurant, not unlike Gokul in St. Louis, which I visited with Rachel last year when we went down there for a kosher BBQ competition. The food was tasty overall, and treat coming from Chicago where it is not available, despite the close proximity of the Jewish and Indian populations.

Ari then took me on a quick tour of three different major grocery stores that all had decent kosher sections, although none of them had a full service kosher deli counter.  Also, none of them are close to the main Jewish area.

We then headed back to Ari and Jessica’s place to get ready for Shabbat.  Jessica prepared a tasty Friday night dinner, and invited several other guests for the meal, making for a great time.


Many of you may know Melinda Strauss of the great blog Kitchen-Tested . What you may not know is she is originally from Seattle and is Jessica’s younger sister.  While she currently resides in the New York area, Melinda happened to be in Seattle for the holiday weekend as well, visiting her family. Shabbat lunch was at Melinda and Jessica’s grandmother’s house with the whole family.  I had a some great conversations with  Melinda about the future of this blog. I am looking forward to attending the Jewish Food Media Conference that she runs, in about a month.  I also had a great time talking to Jessica and Melinda’s father, who is an avid cook himself.


BorekasFatburgerThere is a very large Sephardic Jewish community in Seattle. The main Sephardic synagogue, Sephardic Bikur Holim was having their annual food bazaar on the Sunday I was there, so know I had to check that out.  There was a breakfast which included a couple of different types of homemade borekas, and I love anything with puff pastry.

There was also a lunch which included kosher burgers made by the crew from the local Fatburger, BBQ from KoGo, and cotton candy and popcorn for the kids.

Then it was time to get down to work. The real reason I went out to Seattle was to help Ari’s with his synagogue, Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath’s annual BBQ know as “BassarFest” that was held this year on Labor Day. For those of you who don’t understand Hebrew, Bassar roughly translates to meat.

The kosher options in Seattle are somewhat limited and that is why I brought 100 lbs of meat, including hot dogs, Italian sausages, salami and beef bacon produced by Romanian Kosher Sausage Company, from Chicago to Seattle. (Thank you Southwest Airlines for the free bags!) With some great help from volunteers from the synagogue we managed to get all of the sides ready for the next day.

100lbs of Meat


At last the day had arrived.  While the event wasn’t until late afternoon, the volunteers and I got started at about 10 AM. It was quite an ambitious menu, but we managed to get it all done just in time:

Sausage and PeppersHot DogsSausage and Pepper: A Chicago classic featuring Romanian’s Italian Sausage with grilled green and red bell peppers and onions

Romanian Grilled Salami Sandwich: Romanian’s world famous salami glazed with a house made sweet and savory BBQ sauce served on a bun

Make Your Own Chicago Style Hot Dogs: A plump all beef Romanian hot dog served with yellow mustard, (but never ketchup), onions, relish, celery salt, tomato, sport peppers, and dill pickles on a poppy seed bun

Grilled German Potato Salad: A warm red potato salad topped with Romanian beef fry tossed in a Dijon tarragon vinaigrette

Grilled Chicken Wings: A classic BBQ finger food, tossed in a sweet Kansas City style BBQ sauce

Baked Beans: Sweet and smoky beans with just little kick, including some Romanian beef fry

Homemade Coleslaw: A mix of shredded red and green cabbage, carrots, and fennel, with an apple cider vinaigrette dressing

Grilled Beef Sliders: A great crowd-pleaser of mini hamburgers

We ended up feeding about 300 people and had the perfect amount of food, and thanks to the help of the volunteers, I even had some time to walk around and schmooze with the crowd.  The crowd was great and it seemed like everyone was having a great time.  Being Seattle, I met what seemed like a dozen software developers, which gave me a chance to geek out at bit.  I work in software development for my day job.

There usually is a cooking competition that goes along with the BBQ, but despite my best efforts in creating a new format for them it failed to attract teams.  Ari believes that it was caused by the fact that most of the the people that usually compete were unavailable due to the holiday weekend.

All and all, I had a great time.  While Seattle definitely could use some help in the kosher restaurant and grocery department, it makes up for it with a warm community that is dedicated to their local Jewish institutions.


Apple Wood Smoked Chicken Recipe and ThermoPro Thermometer Review

  1. Smoked ChickenDon’t Forget the Giveaway

Before we get all nerdy about thermometers and smoked chicken, don’t forget to enter our giveaway of the great new cookbook Millennial Kosher by Chani Apfelbaum of the great blog Busy In Brooklyn. It is coming to an end soon. The details are at the end of this post.

Do These Thermometers Measure Up?

When making a roasted or smoked chicken, a thermometer is probably one of the most important kitchen tools you can have.  Actually, a good thermometer is probably one of the best tools to have in the kitchen period. Generally I stick to digital models, as I find analog ones slow and imprecise.

There are many styles of thermometers but the two most common are what is often referred to as the instant read (that looks like a switch blade) and probe style. At the International Home + Housewares Show I has a great chat with the fine folks at ThermoPro* who sent me three thermometers to review.  I will review them from three standpoints: accuracy, ease of use, and overall quality for the price, with a score of 1-5, five being the highest.

TP-03 Digital Instant-Read Thermometer

Instant Read Thermometer For Smoked ChickenThe TP-03 is an instant read style thermometer that runs $11.79 on Amazon.  It seems fairly accurate and only a hair slower when compared to my Thermowroks Thermopen that sells for of six times as much.  It is fairly easy to use, with a button to pop out the probe and an on/off button on the front, and a button to switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius on the back.  Included in the package was a battery, which is always nice.

I do have to say that build quality does seem to be a bit low on this one, but for less than $12, what do you expect.  There is a bit of play on the rotating joint that swings the probe out.  Also, when not in use the probe rests in a slot on the of the body of the thermometer the feels like it would be a magnet for food particles and bacteria.
Ease of Use: 5
Accuracy: 4
Overall quality for the price: 3


TP-17 Digital Meat Thermometer

Dual Probe Thermometer For Smoked Chicken
The TP-17 is a dual probe style thermometer which is great if you are trying to cook multiple things at once or if you want to use one probe to measure your meat temperature and one one for the air temperature of your oven or smoker.  This unit does have a separate mode for measuring the air temperature inside of your oven or grill so you get a bit more accurate of a reading, although it uses the same style probe for meat and air temperatures which surprised me.  Many other manufactures use a different style probe for air temperature.  While it is nice that they for this unit you can use one style probe I am concerned that it may affect accuracy.

Another feature I like about this until is the fact that it has alarms for a both high and low temperatures.  This is great for those of you using charcoal or wood smokers.  I did find the control interface a bit clunky and I wish the upper bounds on the temperature range the unit can handle was bit higher for high heat grilling, but overall a decent buy for $25.
Ease of Use: 3
Accuracy: 4
Overall quality for the price: 4

TP-20 Digital Wireless Meat Thermometer

Wireless Dual Probe Thermometer For Smoked ChickenThe TP-20 Digital Wireless Meat Thermometer has a solid and comfortable feel. It has a specific mode to measure oven/smoker/barbecue air temperature using their standard probe and a high/low alarm similar to the TP-17 (see above).

The wireless functionality works well.  I was able to easy get a signal in the front of my house, over 40 feet from the smoker.  At $53 it is on higher end of the cost scale for mid grade thermometer.

Ease of Use: 4
Accuracy: 4
Overall quality for the price: 3



Overall I think the TheroPro line is a great budget buy.  While I love my Thermapen by ThermoWorks it is significantly more expensive than the TP-03.  I have used several other mid to low cost probe style thermometers over the years and the TP-17 and TP-20 work at least as well, if not better, than most of them.

I don’t currently own a high end probe style thermometer, like the ThermoWorks Smoke, so I can’t really tell you if it is worth paying the extra money. That being said, my birthday is coming up, and if you want send me a present I would be happy to review it for you :).

Nobody Calls Me Chicken

Now on to the food!  I consider smoked chicken the gateway drug of smoked meats.  Chicken is fairly cheap and cooks fairly quickly.  Now quickly is a relative term, we are still probably talking close to three hours at 250°F which is a lot shorter than a brisket that takes somewhere around ten hours.  That being said, for chicken you should be more concerned with temperature than time.  The USDA recommends chicken be cooked to 165°F, but I generally pull my chicken out at 160°F, as it continues to cook even after you take it out and should hit 165°F. This is known as carryover cooking.

Smoked Chicken Recipe

0 from 0 votes
Smoked Chicken
Apple Wood Smoked Chicken
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
3 hrs
Resting Time
15 mins
Total Time
3 hrs 10 mins

A super flavorful and easy smoked chicken recipe.  I call for spatchcocking the chicken to help it cook more evenly.  Standard oven instructions are also included. 

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: BBQ
Keyword: BBQ, Chicken, Smoked
Servings: 4 people
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 1 Whole Chicken
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Margarine or butter if you don't keep kosher
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Granulated Onion
  • Paprika smoked if you have it
  • Ground Sage
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
Special Equipment
  • 1 Smoker
  • 12 Chunks Apple Wood or the equivalent volume of wood chips if that is what your smoker takes
  • Charcoal/Wood/Propane/Electricity to power your smoker
Compound "Butter"
  1. Remove your butter or margarine from the refrigerator and let it soften for about a half hour. Slice the margarine into pats and add to a large mixing bowl along with the granulated garlic, granulated onion, paprika, and ground sage.

  2. Using a stiff spatula or a large wooden spoon mix until the spices are completely integrated.

Preparing the Chicken
  1. Using a heavy chef's knife or a pair of poultry shears, remove the backbone from the chicken by cutting down both sides, leaving as much of rib bones intact as possible. This is known as spatchcocking.

  2. Turn the chicken over and press down on the breast to flatten it out.

  3. Loosen the skin on the breast and thigh by sliding your finger between it and the meat. 

  4. Insert as much of the compound butter between the meat and skin as you can, pressing down on the skin to spread out the butter.

  5. Season the outside of the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper to taste.

Cooking Instructions-Smoker
  1. Fire up your smoker to about 250°F and add about a third of your wood.  Add additional wood about every hour.

  2. Cook your chicken on the rack until it reaches 160°F in the center of the breast. This will take roughly 3 hours but keep an eye on it.  Ideally use a wireless probe thermometer that will let you know once you have hit your desired temperature.

  3. Remove from the chicken from the smoker, allow to rest for 15 minutes, cut in to quarters, and serve immediately

Cooking Instructions-Oven
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

  2. Cook your chicken on a foil lined sheet pan until it reaches 160°F in the center of the breast. Roughly 1 hour but keep an eye on it. Ideally use a wireless probe thermometer that will let you know once you have hit your desired temperature.

  3. Remove from the chicken from the oven, allow to rest for 15 minutes, Cut into quarters, and serve immediately

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*While we did not receive any direct compensation for this review, I was provided the thermometers free of charge by ThermoPro.  ThermoPro also donated 10 thermometers to the Chicago Kosher BBQ Competition which we helped organize. We also receive compensation if you purchase any of the above items via the links to Amazon provided.