Chow Town

Barbecuers share what they make when not competing for prize money

“America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What the Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards”; Ardie A. Davis and Paul Kirk; Andrews McMeel, $19.99.

Kansas City authors/barbecue experts Ardie Davis and Paul Kirk continue to churn out some of the most authentic barbecue books on the market. Last summer they delved into ribs. This summer it’s backyard barbecue, as cooked up by the experts who ride the circuit.

Davis and Kirk asked competitive barbecuers to share recipes for what they make when they’re not trying to win points or prize money. When they’re kicking back with friends and family, the recipes tend to be far more relaxed and, in some ways, more interesting. “Contest rules and regulations literally put barbecue creativity in a box — a turn-in box,” Davis writes.

When I took the course for KCBS judge certification, I recall they tried to stump us by slipping in a feathery carrot top, an edible but illegal garnish. Of course, green lettuce, flat-leaf parsley and cilantro are the only acceptable “vegetation.” None of that red-tipped lettuce or curly leafed kale. Sauce on the ribs? Better be distributed over all the ribs equally, not pooled in the container, or you run the risk of disqualification.

Freed from the constraints of competition designed to allow judges to compare apples to apples, “Homestyle” goes pretty far afield, featuring recipes for grilled, smoked and barbecued foods with a slightly more gourmet twist. Consider Jeff Brinker’s Easy Wagyu Chili, Bill Minahan’s Chicken and Prosciutto Fatties, Dizzy Pig’s Tsunami Duck Breast, KCass’s Ahi Tuna With Mango Salsa or Bob Lyon’s Grand Gaucho Paella.

The book has a high school yearbook quality, with plenty of snapshots of the folks and their food. The flames-shooting-from-the-grill disaster stories are a sort of blooper bonus. Yes,

everyone

can get a little carried away when those creative juices start flowing.

Bill Gillespie’s Shrimp Tacos Make 8 tacos
Slaw: 1/2 cup sour cream 2 tablespoons mayonnaise Grated zest and juice of 1 lime 1 (16-ounce) package coleslaw mix
2 scallions, white and green parts, diced 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 large tomato, seeded and diced Shrimp: About 24 (1-pound) uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined 1/2 cup canola oil 1/4-1/2 cup of your favorite seafood seasoning 1-1 1/2 cups Thai sweet chili sauce, for serving 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

For the slaw: In a large bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, half of the lime zest and all of the lime juice. Add the coleslaw mix, scallions, jalapeno and cilantro and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato. Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

For the shrimp: Prepare a hot grill for direct cooking.

In a large bowl, toss the shrimp in the canola oil, the remaining lime zest and some salt and pepper and let sit for about 30 minutes. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water while the shrimp marinate.

Thread the shrimp on skewers, then season with you favorite rub. Grill directly over the coals for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the shrimp from the grill and from the skewers and toss them in the sweet chili sauce.

Place the tortillas on the grill grate to heat for 1 minute per side.

To assemble the tacos, spoon some slaw into the bottom of each tortilla, top with 3 shrimp and enjoy.

Jill Silva is The Star’s James Beard Award-winning food editor and restaurant critic. She has won more than 25 national writing awards and been included in the “Best Food Writing” anthologies of 2008 and 2011. She is the author of The Star’s “Eating for Life” cookbook and the past president of The Association of Food Journalists. She also makes a mean flan.
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