Friday, April 22, 2011

NYC Chilly Chili Cook Off!

  The 2nd Annual New York City Chili Cook Off was held last weekend, on Saturday April 16th and we were there! Yes, Team Gad Zukes was there with full gear and we were cookin’ up a storm!

  The setting for the cook off was the beautiful, park like grounds of Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island. This place is a living history museum, and was a great setting for such a fun event. I would like to visit there sometime when I am not stirring multiple pots of chili! (see the link at the end for more info)

  In preparation we had the Tango Wagon loaded and ready to go with everything but the meat on the day before. Friday was a glorious day, the early spring sun was shining and the temps were on the warm-ish side. Great day for getting loaded, or at least getting the car loaded.

  Then Saturday morning arrived and it was time to drive the 80+ miles to ‘The Event’. The gray skies were really of no concern, as the weather report was for thickening clouds and maybe some afternoon showers. The drive in was uneventful and we made it onsite with good time to set up and get ready. As we set up the tent, the breezes pick up a little, but not to worry, we had some heavy weights to hold the tent, just in case.

  The morning’s cooks meeting was presided over by Steve and Audrey Falkowski and took place in the Judge’s Chambers in the original Courthouse Building. The meeting was punctuated with a few ‘taps’ on the bench by the largest gavel I have ever seen! Looks like Steve could get used to that gavel.

  Well, as the morning progressed and the stoves heated up the temperatures started to plummet. The chill in the air would not have been too bad if it was not for the wind, which did succeed in taking one competitor’s tent away like Dorothy’s farmhouse. Now the chill and wind would not have been too bad if it were not for the rain. Yup, the rain started to fall a little bit after noon.

  What you might have expected to happen did not happen. The crowds thickened up and the spirits of both the spectators and the cooks never dampened. That is the magic of chili! Chili cooked outside, no matter what good old Mother Nature throws at us.

  At our booth we enjoyed meeting a large crowd of very nice and very hungry folks. Everyone dressed in their finest spring outfits, which this day meant coats, gloves, umbrellas and smiles. It was great to hear people say they really enjoyed our ‘People’s Choice’ chili, some even coming back for seconds even though there were plenty of folks dishing out great chili. It was cool that some folks even recognized us as not only being Team Gad Zukes chili team but also as The Spice Guy from Tango Spice Company. We had been there last year with a booth peddling our line of spice rubs.

  At the end of the day, after the crowds had enjoyed gallons of hot chili on a cold day we all headed back to the Judges Chambers for the verdicts. Very appropriate indeed.

  Congratulations to all the winners, who are listed below. This was a great event, very fun and in a very cool location. Team Gad Zukes will be there again next year for sure.

As for our next moves, Tango Spice will be once again presenting our line of spice rubs out in public at the 81 Thunder Chili Cook Off on May 1st in Bohemia, NY. After that, Team Gad Zukes will be heating up the stoves in Somers. CT at the New England Regional Chili Cook Off!

Come on by and say hello!

The Winners Are!

Red Chili

1 - Jim Parker
2 - Judith Omerza
3 - Daniel Gentile
4 - Robert Burmeister

Chili Verde
1 - Robert Burmeister
2 - Rich Omerza
3 - Monica Parker

1 - Robert Burmeister
2 - Judith Omerza
3 - James W. Heywood

For more information on Historic Richmond Town:

Robert Burmeister Having A Great Time!

The Hungry Crowd!

Everyone Enjoying Chili On A Chilly Day!

Chili Without Beer? No Way!

Is That A Bowl Of Chili?

Robert Burmeister Was A Big Winner!

Judith Omerza Made Two Trips To The Winner's Circle

Top Chefs Of The Day!

Jim Parker - Red Chili Winner!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chicken Leg Quarters On The Caja China!

  So this week the local super market had chicken leg quarters on sale for 99 cents a pound. This sounded like a pretty darn good price so I loaded up with a dozen and dashed home to light some charcoal.
  I have seen videos and posts about cooking whole chickens and whole turkeys on the Caja China, but have yet to find anything on cooking cut pieces of fowl. Undaunted by the lack info, it was time to light the fire.
  First thing was to coat the quarters with some Tango Spice Rub. The chicken was separated into three batches of four pieces each. There were rubbed with three different blends and placed in the fridge for a couple of hours. When it came time to light the charcoal, the chicken was taken out to get it to room temp.
  One thing that was needed was a modification of the food grates. The spacing on the grates that come with the Caja China are perfect for larger pieces of meat, but way too open for smaller stuff like the quarters. To overcome this I used some 1" X 1" stainless steel wire mesh picked up the the handy man's disneyland, home depot. Cut a piece to fit and just bent the edges to hold it. I did not use this to cover both racks, as I was going to flip the birds by hand later. One dozen leg quarters fit very nicely on the newly meshed rack and they were placed in 'the box'.
  I took a guess and started with 10 pounds of charcoal, lit it and let it get ashen, at which time I spread it all out and started a countdown for one hour. After the hour was up, the lid came off the the birds were flipped. The aroma was incredible. Once the flipping was done, the lid went back on and about four pounds of charcoal was added, just to get some higher heat going. After 20 minutes it was time to peek, and the skin looked very tasty indeed. A quick jab with the instant read thermometer showed it was 'in the zone'! The quarters were taken out of the box, put on a platter and covered with foil to rest for a few minutes.
  All in all I will say the chicken came out superb. The meat was juicy and falling off the bone. The skin could have been slightly crispier, but I did not want to over cook the meat once we were at temp.
  Some adjusting of the charcoal amounts and timing will have to be done to get it perfect, but I will say this, the first go around was great!

  For more info on 'The Box' click the following link.

  Here are a few pics of the Chicken Trials.

Chicken All Ready To Go!
From Left To Right,
Southwest Sunset, Tango Verde & Chick N' Rib Rub

In The Box, Ready To Go!

Fire Those Coals!

The Legs @ The Turn!

All Done, Ready To Eat,
The Skin Could Have Been Crisper

The Aroma Was Incredible!
Next Time Crisper Skin For Sure!

 BTW - Thank you for reading this!
 Joe Tango!