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Michael Symon’s New Cookbook Arrives Just In Time For BBQ Season

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Clarkson Potter sent us a copy of Playing With Fire AND is providing a prize pack for one lucky reader!

Michael Symon - Playing With Fire

Just in time for the start of BBQ season, Michael Symon (co-host of The Chew and celebrated Iron Chef and restaurateur) has released his fifth cookbook, Playing With Fire, which covers all things meat!

Playing With Fire focuses on barbecue and live-fire grilling, with 72 recipes inspired by his newest restaurant, Mabel’s BBQ, in his hometown of Cleveland. In preparing to open his barbecue restaurant, Michael Symon enthusiastically sampled smoked meat from across America.

These finger-licking, lip-smacking recipes draw inspiration from his favorites, including dry ribs from Memphis, wet ribs from Nashville, brisket from Texas, pork steak from St. Louis, and burnt ends from Kansas City, as well as the unique and now signature Cleveland-style barbecue that he developed to showcase the flavors of his hometown. Symon offers expert guidance on working with different styles of grills and smokers, cooking various cuts of meat, choosing aromatic woods for smoking, and pairing proteins with rubs, sauces & sides.

If you’re looking for a new guide to classic American barbecue with the volume turned to high, look no further.

Michael Symon

Michael Symon cooks with soul, having grown up in a Greek and Sicilian family. The Cleveland native shares his exuberant, approachable cooking style and infectious laugh as an Iron Chef on Food Network and as a co-host on ABC’s The Chew. Michael is the chef and owner of more than 18 restaurants, including Lola and Mabel’s BBQ in downtown Cleveland, locals of B-Spot Burgers throughout the Midwest, and Angeline at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City.

He’s always posting amazing creations on his social media accounts, so you should definitely make sure that you’re following him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But be forewarned, his feed will make you hungry.

I’ve long been a fan of Michael Symon and his cooking, so when Clarkson Potter sent us an advanced copy of Playing With Fire, I couldn’t wait to check it out. And let me tell you, the recipes had our mouths watering! Sadly, it’s still freezing outside here in the Northeast (heck, it just snowed last week), so we can’t fire up the grill just yet. But once it warm up, we’ll definitely be trying out some of these dishes for ourselves.

Michael Symon's BBQ Toolset Prize Pack

In celebration of the release of Playing With Fire (in stores April 3rd), we’ve partnered with Clarkson Potter for an exciting giveaway, where one lucky winner will receive the following:

  • A copy of Michael Symon’s Playing With Fire
  • A Cuisinart Deluxe 20-piece grill set
  • A barbecue pit mitt glove

To enter, simply leave us a comment below telling us what your favorite barbecue dish is. We’ll pick a winner at random on April 20th at 5pm EST. Contest only open to US residents.

Good luck!

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64 Comments

64 Comments

  1. Jerry

    April 7, 2018 at 11:45 am

    Nothing beats a good steak on the grill. I’ll have mine Pittsburgh rare.

  2. Jeffrey

    April 10, 2018 at 12:56 am

    My favorite grilled dish is salmon. I grew up hating fish and found out the reason was that my parents really didn’t know how to prepare it!

  3. Kim Niland

    April 11, 2018 at 7:20 am

    We still like to barbecue baby back ribs the best. We cook a lot of burgers too.

  4. Kelly D

    April 11, 2018 at 9:01 am

    I like Cajun Barbecue Shrimp.

  5. Meghan

    April 11, 2018 at 11:11 am

    Love to grill salmon and some veggies,

  6. Char

    April 11, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Sweeeet, I love salmon and shrimp. Seafood rocks, thank you so much!!!

  7. Jeremy McLaughlin

    April 11, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    Favorite is grilled salmon.

  8. Carly S

    April 11, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    I recently tried pulled bbq jackfruit and it was great!

  9. Darlene Carbajal

    April 11, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    I love ribs and steak!

  10. Steve Weber

    April 11, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    BBQ pulled pork sliders

  11. Stephanie Sullivan

    April 11, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Ribs all the way, baby! Yum.

  12. Ryan W

    April 11, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    I love to barbecue ribs

  13. Lauren

    April 11, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    A little different but I love salmon on the BBQ with grilled mushrooms!

  14. Nic

    April 11, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    I want my baby back, baby back, baby back ribs!

  15. Daniel M

    April 11, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    always like steak

  16. Roberta Thompson

    April 11, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    I love a good steak on the grill but I fish a lot too so tuna and salmon are at the top of the list as well.

  17. Ashley

    April 11, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    I love me some ribs!

  18. carol clark

    April 11, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    i love steak

  19. tammy kubitz

    April 11, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    southwest grilled chicken salads

  20. Surinder gurm

    April 11, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    Salmon and portobello mushrooms

  21. Tiffany dayton

    April 11, 2018 at 10:54 pm

    I love ribs.They are the best.

  22. Robin M

    April 12, 2018 at 1:20 am

    baby back ribs

  23. Lauren

    April 13, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    I like grilled chicken.

  24. Tina W

    April 16, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    When it comes to grilling my first choice will always be tri-tip. It’s the one thing I rarely find at a restaurant done as well as I can do at home. Also: awesome sandwiches with leftovers the next day.

  25. Nathan D.

    April 18, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    My favorite is classic surfnturf: steak & shrimp

  26. Cassandra M

    April 18, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    my favorite bbq is ribs!!!

  27. Aaron

    April 19, 2018 at 11:27 am

    My favorite is a burger.

  28. Dan H

    April 19, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    Bbq ribs are the best

  29. Carol

    April 19, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    I like steaks.

  30. Jennifer H.

    April 19, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    I like grilled chicken and pineapples.

  31. John H.

    April 19, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    I like brats!

  32. Julie R

    April 20, 2018 at 1:06 am

    I like barbecue chicken!

  33. Leah Shumack

    April 20, 2018 at 7:14 am

    My favorite thing to barbecue is steaks!

  34. latanya

    April 20, 2018 at 9:04 am

    I love a good grilled burger

  35. Danielle M

    April 20, 2018 at 9:10 am

    I love to grill vegetables and I really like grilled pineapple! My family loves to grill burgers, but we will grill anything!

  36. Mary West

    April 20, 2018 at 9:14 am

    I love grilled bbq chicken and a baked potato cooked on the grill!

  37. Mary Beth Elderton

    April 20, 2018 at 9:14 am

    OUr always all time favorite is hamburgers on the grill. I also like to wrap some veggies in foil and throw them on, maybe toss some fresh pineapple rings on for dessert.

  38. Sandra Preti

    April 20, 2018 at 9:17 am

    I love grilled seafood and veggies — I like to put them in some tacos in the summer…yum!

  39. Ryan Spencer

    April 20, 2018 at 9:17 am

    My favorite BBQ dish is Grilled BBQ Ribs!

  40. monique s

    April 20, 2018 at 9:28 am

    My favorite bbq dish is ribeye steak. So yummy

  41. Katie Bellamy

    April 20, 2018 at 10:32 am

    My hubby grills the best burgers!!

  42. Natalie

    April 20, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Grilled chicken and sweet potatoes is my favorites on the grill

  43. Nancy

    April 20, 2018 at 11:05 am

    We love grilled steak. Also I like to top whole sweet onions with butter and seasonings, wrap them in foil, and roast them on the grill with our grilled steaks.

  44. Amber Cheras

    April 20, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    My favorite barbecue dish is Chipotle Maple Barbecue Beef Brisket.

  45. Mary Jacobowitz

    April 20, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    I love steak and grilled zucchini and yellow squash.

  46. Helen

    April 20, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    My husband likes his steak, and he will put corn on the cob and potatoes on the grill too.

  47. Adrianne B

    April 20, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    My fave bbq dish is dry rub ribs!

  48. Darlene Owen

    April 20, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    My favorite BBQ is BBQ shrimp and chicken

  49. wen budro

    April 20, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    My favorite thing to barbecue is steak and ribs. There’s nothing better. Yum!

  50. Amy Tebow

    April 20, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    My favorite is hamburgers!

  51. sylvia

    April 20, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    I love a good bbq chicken! Throw some diced potatoes and onions in foil and grill up some corn on the cob. Perfect meal!

  52. Austin Hanczarek

    April 20, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Favorite BBQ dish is some baby back ribs, steak and veggie kabobs, Mac and cheese……some potato salad. That is a great dish to me.

  53. Stephanie

    April 20, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    My favorite barbecue dish is chicken breast with fresh veggies and mac and cheese.

  54. Saundra McKenzie

    April 20, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    I love beef kabobs with green peppers , onions, and squash.

  55. John

    April 20, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    I love BBQ beef brisket

  56. Ken Ohl

    April 20, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    I love steak and corn on the cob on the grill

  57. Shakeia Rieux

    April 20, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    My favorite is bbq pork ribs, potato salad and bbq baked beans.

  58. Helga ROMOSER

    April 20, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    My favorite BBQ dish is BBQ pork ribs.

  59. wendolyn browne

    April 20, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    Babyback ribs!Or brisket!

  60. desiree

    April 20, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    were are having bbq ribs and chicken

  61. Janet Boyanton

    April 20, 2018 at 10:24 pm

    I like BBQ ribs. Of course I won’t complain about steak or brisket either.

  62. Richard Brandt

    April 20, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    I love a BBQ prime rib sandwich with grilled BBQ onions!

  63. LeAnn Harbert

    April 20, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    I like grilled chicken that has marinated in Italian dressing.

  64. James Jenkins

    April 21, 2018 at 12:58 am

    My favorite is a thick, juicy, freshly ground hamburger!

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Chick-fil-A Is America’s Favorite Fast-Food Restaurant For The Third Year In A Row

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Chick-Fil-A

When it comes to fast-food restaurants, Chick-Fil-A reigns supreme for the third year in a row, that according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s annual study, which surveys 22,500 Americans on their experiences at chain restaurants.

Yes, Chick-Fil-A has had their fair share of controversy over the years, but that clearly hasn’t affected consumers’ love of their delicious chicken sandwiches. The ACSI study polled 22,500 Americans on their experiences at chain restaurants, rating them from 0 to 100 in categories such as food quality, restaurant cleanliness and layout, and waitstaff behavior. Those scores are averaged out to come up with an overall score.

With a score of 87, Chick-Fil-A was the winner, beating runner-up Panera Bread by six points. As for the other giant chicken purveyor KFC, they slipped 1 point down to 77. Time to step up your game, Colonel Sanders..

Just imagine how high Chick-Fil-A would rank if they were open on Sundays. 🙂

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Domino’s Celebrates Summer With 50% Off All Pizzas Through July 15

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Domino's Pizza

Spent all your money on fireworks for Fourth of July? Not to worry, because Domino’s Pizza is giving you 50% off all menu-priced pizza ordered online today through July 15th.

Now don’t call your local Domino’s store for this deal, because it is only available for online orders, which includes Domino’s website and their various mobile apps. Heck, you can even text or tweet your order to them, it’s crazy how many ways you can order a pizza from them!

Not at home? Not a problem! Customers who are ordering delivery to a Domino’s Hotspot may also take advantage of the 50% off menu-priced pizza deal.

Sadly, this deal doesn’t include any of their non-pizza items (wings, pasta, etc), which are all pretty awesome in their own right. But for me, it’s all about their pan pizza, which is freaking amazing. Never had it before? What are you waiting for, order one (or two) for dinner tonight and prepare to have your taste buds blown away!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go place an order for a pizza. 🙂

Photo credit: Domino’s Pizza

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Food

Eating Our Way Through Lockhart, The Barbecue Capital of Texas

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BrisketU BBQ Pit Trailer

If there’s one thing I love, it’s BBQ. But here in the Northeast, finding a good barbecue joint is pretty much impossible. But down in Texas, there is amazing ‘cue everywhere you turn. Heck, there’s even a Salt Lick BBQ in the Austin and Dallas airports, so you can get your BBQ fix the moment you touch down in Texas!

So when our friends at Chevrolet invited me down to Houston to join them for a BBQ road trip to Lockhart, Texas (the Barbecue Capital of Texas), behind the wheel of some rugged Chevy Silverado and Colorado trucks, it took me exactly 0.0005 seconds to say YES.

The Gator Pit of Texas

Our adventure started in Houston, at the world-famous Gator Pit of Texas, which was featured on Discovery’s King of the Grill. This small metal fabrication shop makes custom-made, hand-fabricated BBQ pits that are second to none, and award-winning pit master Ritch Robin was kind enough to take time out of his day to give us a tour of their operation.

When it comes to Texas BBQ, it’s all about the offset smoker, and cooking that meat (brisket, pork shoulder, ribs, etc) low and slow. Ritch gave us a behind-the-scenes look into how BBQ pits are built, what makes his pits so desirable, and how customers can customize their pits to the smallest detail.. Like adding a Texas shaped brake light, because why not?

The Gator Pit of Texas

You don’t see workmanship like this very often (everything is made by hand, with one person working on your pit from start to finish), and it’s clear to see why there’s a 1+ year waiting list to get one. Needless to say, if you’re serious about barbecuing, you should definitely consider having them build you a custom pit of your own. Pricing starts at $1,200 for an entry-level pit and goes up from there depending on your needs.

After our crash course in barbecue pits, we hopped into our trucks (thank god for A/C, because Houston was HOT!) and set a course for Kyle, Texas, where we would be spending the night. Along the way, I made the obligatory stop at Buc-ee’s, a Texas rest-stop that has become a rite of passage for anyone traveling between Houston and Austin. Trust me, it’s a Texas institution that everyone should experience at least once in their life.

2018 Chevy Colorado Duramax

For this first leg, I was driving a ruby-red Chevy Colorado Duramax. Had I been towing one of the Gator Pits, I would have had no problem, as the Turbo-Diesel engine offers best-in-class towing, with 369 lb-ft of torque and a 7,700 pound towing capacity. This was actually my first time driving a Colorado, and I quite liked the mid-sized pickup. Not everyone needs a full-size pickup, and I could totally see myself driving a Colorado (but make mine a ZR2).

Roughly 2.5 hours later, I finally arrived at the Twin Cabins Hotel, our home for the night. As you can see, this was a rather unique spot for us to spend the night, a Victorian-style country cabin that is off the beaten path, with cows, bulls, and even some mini horses roaming around out back. It’s hard to believe that this place is just 20-30 minutes from Austin.

Twin Cabins Hotel

Once everyone arrived, we embarked on a BBQ cooking class, courtesy of the folks at BrisketU, where we learned from accomplished pitmasters the art of smoking brisket (the toughest piece of beef to master) from start to finish. They showed us how to pick the right brisket, trimming techniques, rubs and prep, wood selection and smoke profiles, starting/managing a firebox, timing the cook, and slicing the end product.

Afterwards, we got to eat all of this amazing food they made for us (brisket, ribs, chicken, and more), and everything was delicious. And I’ve gotta say, after seeing how much time and effort went into preparing this meal, I had a newfound respect for the pitmasters out there. My belly nice and full, I decided to get some sleep so I’d be nice and refreshed for tomorrow’s activities.

BrisketU Cooking Demonstration

BrisketU Cooking Demonstration

The next morning, I had a light breakfast (no reason to fill up when there’s a ton of BBQ ahead of us) before heading to Lockhart. My buddy James wanted to drive the Colorado, so we traded and I took the keys to his Silverado. The ventilated seats were a welcomed addition, as it was still crazy hot, even at 9:30 in the morning.

Then came the tough part, deciding which BBQ joint to hit up first. After consulting with the experts at Google, we decided to start off at Black’s BBQ, which has been in operation since 1932, and is thought to be the oldest barbecue restaurant run by one family in Texas. They’re known for their Brontosaurus-sized “Giant Beef Rib”, so naturally we had to try that, along with the brisket, which is smoked in a most unique way.

Black's BBQ in Lockhart Texas

Black's BBQ in Lockhart Texas

OH. MY. GOD. I thought I had experienced great Texas BBQ before, but Black’s just blew my mind. The beef rib (which is insanely huge) is so tender, moist, and delicious. My stomach is growling just thinking about it. And the brisket was perfection, so full of flavor that you don’t even need any BBQ sauce to go with it. My suggestion? Bring some friends, order everything on the menu, and eat it family style.

Next up was Kreuz Market (pronounced “Krites” by the locals), another Texas institution that opened back in 1900 (though it’s only been in this location since 1999). Since Lockhart is all about brisket, I decided to see how theirs stacked up to Black’s. I really enjoyed the black crust of the brisket, which was loaded with flavor, but I thought the meat itself was a little on the dry side. Next time, I’ll have to try their smoked ham, as I hear it’s really good.

Kreuz Market in Lockhart Texas

As you can imagine, I was in a bit of a food coma by now (and it was only 12:15pm), so I hung out here for a bit while I got my second wind. Then I hopped back in the truck and drove over to Chisholm Trail BBQ, which is “where the locals go”. Sadly, my digestive system was crying Uncle by this point, so I just took a quick peek inside before driving off. Amazingly, they even have a drive-thru for those who don’t want to leave the comfort of their A/C.

Overall, Lockhart really lived up to the hype, and it’s no wonder that they hold the official title as the Barbecue Capital of Texas. I wish I could have stayed longer so I could have sampled some more delicious BBQ, but I had a flight back to Philly that I had to catch.

As you can see, if you’re a barbecue enthusiast, you absolutely must come check out the BBQ scene in Lockhart, TX. Come hungry, and bring lots of napkins. 🙂

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