Chow Town

Tailgate season launches at Great Southern Tailgate Cookoff in Florida

Easy, delicious tailgate feast: grilled shrimp and peaches with corn, Hatch pepper and sweet potato fries
Easy, delicious tailgate feast: grilled shrimp and peaches with corn, Hatch pepper and sweet potato fries Special to The Kansas City Star

You know you’re not in Chow Town while standing on a beach at sunrise as dolphins swim by, pelicans plunge into the surf for breakfast and seagulls soar on the horizon.

At sunset, as you savor fresh oysters, boiled shrimp, sweet potato fries and a Killer Whale Cream Ale at The Salty Pelican, there’s no doubt you’re on an island in Florida.

The Fifth Annual Great Southern Tailgate Cookoff took place last month in Fernandina Beach on Florida’s Amelia Island. It has become a don’t-miss event in only a few short years.

After our ballots were turned in, most judges said they were impressed with the quality of entries in all categories this year — chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. A few entries were tough and below par on flavor, but most were top-notch contenders — looked good, tender and flavorful with a kiss of smoke.

Susan Hurley and her event team volunteers did a fantastic job of making the cookoff a memorable celebration of barbecue, music and fun for all. Add it to your 2015 calendar.

Grilled Shrimp and Peaches pays tribute to Amelia Island’s shrimp industry. Inspired by a recipe in Joy Bateman’s The Art of Dining on Amelia Island, it’s easy and delicious. Serve it at your next tailgate.

Go Chiefs!

Grilled Shrimp and Peaches

Makes 4 servings

4 Georgia peaches, halved and pitted

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


Sea salt

1/4 teaspoon Bad Byron’s Butt Rub or more to taste (available locally)

1 tablespoon Texas Pete or your favorite hot sauce

5 ounces Asiago cheese, grated

1/2 cup heated Johnny Harris Georgia Peach Bar-B-Cue Sauce or 1 cup balsamic glaze (boil 2 cups balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup brown sugar for 20 minutes, stirring constantly to create a reduction).

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons Tupelo Honey (available at McGonigle’s)

1/2 chimney of charcoal briquets

1/3 cup pecan wood chips, soaked in water and drained

While the briquets fire up, toss the peaches in half of the olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper. Dump hot coals on one side of fire grate, install oiled grill grate and grill peaches for a minute to 1 1/2 minutes on each side; remove to a dish or bowl. Toss shrimp with other half of the olive oil, salt and pepper and hot sauce.

Grill shrimp for about 2 minutes until they turn pink. Move shrimp to side opposite the hot coals. Dump drained pecan chips on the coals, close the the grill lid and let the smoke kiss the shrimp for 15 seconds. Plate servings of shrimp with peaches and drizzle with barbecue sauce or balsamic glaze and honey. Top with cheese and basil.

Serve with sweet potato fries or cheesy garlic grits on the side. For a beverage, try iced tea, your favorite craft beer or chilled Sauvignon Blanc.

Ardie Davis is an iconic figure in the barbecue community. He founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub & Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS’ Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on food shows and writes for barbecue-related publications. He is also the author of books on barbecue. His most recent release is “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”