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Grilled Beef Pinwheels with Pesto Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce

Fire Up The Grill
By Steve Collins
The Home Chef

Here’s a great way to use flank steak, a less expensive cut of beef. These beef pinwheels are fun.Serve this with your favorite pasta and a fresh green salad.

1 eggplant, sliced 1/4” thick
1-1/2  lb. beef flank steak, trimmed
2 orange bell peppers
4 roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
6 pieces of butcher’s string, each 8” long

Generously sprinkle the eggplant with salt and let it sit for an hour. Thoroughly rinse the eggplant and set aside.

Prepare a hot grill. Put a sheet of cling wrap twice as long as the piece of steak on your work surface. Put the steak on top of the cling wrap. Butterfly the flank steak by holding a sharp knife horizontally and slicing almost through the steak. Open out the steak so that the grain is positioned side to side. Cover with the steak with another piece of cling wrap. Pound the steak to one quarter-inch thickness and refrigerate until ready to use.

Place the bell peppers over the hottest part of the grill and thoroughly char all sides. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the charred skin. Place the eggplant slices and the tomatoes on the grill grate and cook for five minutes. Turn and cook for five more minutes.

Get out the prepared flank steak and remove the cling wrap. Lay the butcher’s string equally spaced on a cutting board. Place the beef over the string making sure that the grain runs side to side. Brush the surface with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the Bell peppers evenly on the meat. Top with the eggplant and tomato halves. Roll tightly, securing the roll with the butcher’s twine at one-inch intervals. Slice between the ties to make the pinwheels.

If using charcoal make sure that the fire is hot, adding fuel as needed. When the fire is hot, put the pinwheels on the grill and cook for four minutes. Turn the pinwheels and cook for four more minutes. Remove them from the grill and let them rest for five minutes. Remove the string and serve with sun-dried tomato pesto.

Pesto Sun Dried Tomato Sauce
1/4 c. jarred sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
1/4 c. fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
3 Tbsp. chopped onion
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. Balsamic vinegar

Place all ingredients in the blender and pulse until a smooth paste.

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Time for Bacon, Heat, Brown Sugar, & Tailgate Recipes!

By Kent “The Deck Chef” Whitaker

ALL RIGHT FOOTBALL and Barbecue/ Grilling FANS! Some readers of the National Barbecue News may already know that I’m the radio tailgate reporter for the Middle Tennessee State University football radio network. I was researching some recipe ideas for the game against the Charlotte 49'ers when I ran across a fun foodie piece of trivia that involves my go-to hot sauce which is Texas Pete®!

Well, my tailgate and foodie friends Texas Pete® is originally from... NORTH CAROLINA! Yep, if you're in Charlotte, head out, drive for a bit to Winston-Salem and you're in the hometown of one of the most iconic hot sauce brands in the United States! It turns out that the name of the sauce had to be connected to the USA. Here's how the official Texas Pete Legend spells things out when it came time to pick a name for a family developed sauce during the 1940's.

"Sam Garner and his three sons, Thad, Ralph and Harold, were trying to come up with a brand name for this spicy new sauce they had created, a marketing adviser suggested the name ”Mexican Joe” to connote the piquant flavor reminiscent of the favorite foods of our neighbors to the south. ”Nope!” said the patriarch of the Garner family. ”It’s got to have an American name!” Sam suggested they move across the border to Texas, which also had a reputation for spicy cuisine. Then he glanced at son Harold, whose nickname was ”Pete” and the Texas Pete cowboy was born. Movie cowboys were very popular in the 1930’s, men like Tom Mix and Hopalong Cassidy, representing a sort of universal image of rugged independence and self-reliance, the perfect ideal for a family business trying to survive tough times."

Now that's a pretty awesome story! Great sauce, fantastic flavor, and a pretty cool history to back things up. Now, all you need is a tasty MTSU football tailgate recipe to cap things off. This recipe is a version I first learned when training to cook for the United States Coast Guard. My instructor, Ron Ellis, loaded an oven up with his salt, pepper, and brown sugar bacon. It was amazing.

Of course, we had to add hot sauce eventually. So when I was researching Texas Pete, I decided to combine the Spicy Bacon with a Cheeseburger — tailgate heaven! You can make the bacon before the tailgate and warm it up there if you want to save time. You'll notice that I didn't include a recipe for a cheeseburger... just grill up a cheese burger and top it with the following bacon recipe courtesy of these sources - my grill, Ron's Bacon, USCG Food Service Specialist training, and Texas Pete Hot Sauce!

Brown Sugar Glazed Spicy Bacon
Texas Pete® hot sauce
Brown sugar
Black pepper

Preheat oven or grill to 350 degrees. Place the bacon in an even layer on deep cooking tray - preferably with a rack - or a broiling pan. You'll need this for the grease. Next, in a bowl, combine a bunch of Texas Pete® Hot Sauce and brown sugar together. Sprinkle the bacon lightly with black pepper. Brush the mixture of sauce and brown sugar over the top of the bacon and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip the pieces and baste again. Or, combine everything in a zip close back, seal it and toss it in the fridge overnight. Then bake or grill the bacon. Before you remove from the oven, sprinkle lightly with more brown sugar. Drain via the rack, the broiling pan, or on paper towels and top your cheeseburger! One note: DON'T BURN THE BACON! The brown sugar will become bitter. And bitter bacon is not happy bacon!

Enjoy the recipe; catch my tailgate tips during the MTSU Football Radio Network Broadcasts, and I'll see you at the tailgate.

Kent Whitaker is the author of eight cookbooks, ranging from hometown cooking with a culinary history twist to titles for NASCAR tailgating and barbecue. He has also written and illustrated two books for children, is a trained USCG AUXCHEF, and is the winner of the Emeril Live / Food Network Barbecue Contest. His latest book, Bullets and Bread,  is in bookstores nationally and is also available online at, as well as at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.

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Time to get ready for ‘The Jack’

By Paul Kirk CWC, Ph.B., B.S.A.S.
Kansas City Baron of BBQ
Barbecue Guru
Order of the Magic Mop
Ambassador of BBQ
Certified Master BBQ Judge

It’s time to get ready for The Jack, recipes for Cookin’ in the Homeland, Cooking in the Holler, and of course, desserts.

Our first is for Cookin’ in the Homeland, one of the German teams turned in some venison last year.

Grilled Venison Backstrap  
2 lbs. venison back strap (tenderloin), cut into 2” chunks   
1 qt. apple cider   
1-1/2 lbs. thick sliced bacon   
2 (12 oz.) bottles barbecue sauce, your choice   

Place chunks of venison into a shallow baking dish, and pour enough apple cider in to cover them. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove, and pat dry. Discard apple cider and return venison to the dish. Pour barbeque sauce over the chunks, cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 more hours.   

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. Charcoal is best, but if you must, use gas. Remove meat from the refrigerator, and let stand for 30 minutes, or until no longer chilled.   

Wrap each chunk of venison in a slice of bacon, and secure with toothpicks.
Brush the grill grate with olive oil when hot, and place venison pieces on the grill so they are not touching. The bacon will kick up some flames, so be ready. Grill, turning   occasionally, until the bacon becomes slightly burnt, 15 to 20 minutes. The slower, the better.  Yield: 6 servings.

Our entry from the Holler is Rainbow Trout.  Dishes suggested by the sun-filled cuisine of countries south of our border remain an order magnet. This presentation appeals to customers' eyes, then the robust flavors delight their taste buds. Ease of preparation makes this plate popular in the kitchen – and popular for its profitable labor and food costs.

Grilled Rainbow Trout Adobo with Roasted Corn Salsa
3 c. dry white wine
1-1/2 c. fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp. prepared adobo sauce
3 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
12 Clear Springs Clear Cuts© Rainbow Trout butterfly fillets, 8 oz. ea.
Coarse salt as     needed
Roasted Corn Salsa (recipe follows)
Olive oil as needed
Field greens as needed
Lime zest as needed for garnish
Lemon zest as needed for garnish

To prepare Rainbow Trout: Thoroughly mix wine and next 3 ingredients. Pour over fillets, let marinate 2 hours. Just before service, remove fillets from marinade, pat dry.

Per Order: Heat 1/2 cup salsa in a little olive oil, keep warm. On a well-oiled grill, preferably fueled with wood, grill trout flesh-side down for 2 minutes. Turn; cook until just firm, about 1 minute.

To Plate: Lay trout on a small bed of greens. Spoon warmed salsa over and to side of trout. Garnish with lime and lemon zest. Makes 12 servings.

Desserts vary but cheesecake almost always comes out on top.  Making cheesecakes on a smoker is not as difficult as one may think If I can do it, anyone can do it.

Maple Cheesecake
12 Oreo cookies
6 Tbsp. melted butter
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese
2/3 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. maple sugar or granulated sugar
4 eggs
Toppings: Choice of fresh fruit and Maple syrup

Preheat oven to 325° F. Separate cookies, setting cookie filling aside. Place cookies in large freezer bag, seal and crush fine with rolling pin. In a bowl, stir together crushed cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a buttered 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

In large bowl, beat together Oreo filling and remaining ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour cheese mixture into cake pan and bake for 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Transfer to serving platter. Just before serving, top with fresh fruit and drizzle with maple syrup. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

This cheesecake is one of my favorite.

English Toffee Cheese Cake
1-1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c. toasted almonds, finely chopped
1/2 c. English toffee bits (such as Skor)
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

32 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 c. dark brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
8 oz. chocolate-covered English toffee (such as Skor or Heath bars), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

16 oz. container sour cream
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Assorted candies (such as gumdrops and holiday M&M's)

Preheat oven to 350º F. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Add butter; stir until moist clumps form. Press mixture over bottom and 1 inch up sides of 10-inch-diameter springform pan. Bake crust until just set, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 325° F.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in both extracts. Pour half of mixture into prepared crust; sprinkle with toffee pieces. Pour remaining mixture over. Bake until edges are puffed but center is barely set, about 55 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare topping.

Mix sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract in medium bowl until smooth. Pour topping over hot cheesecake. Bake cake until topping is just set, about 5 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool 10 minutes. Run knife between cake and pan sides. Chill cake uncovered overnight.

Remove pan sides and place cake on platter. Garnish top with candies.

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