‘Camp Dad’ barbecue brings friends, neighbors together

All of this was leading up to the main event — a bacon wrapped, Cajun spiced por

Recently, I was asked to write about the things I barbecue at the house on a weekly basis. Wanting to honor a reader request, and with my wife leaving town for the weekend, I took advantage of the opportunity to have a “Camp Dad” barbecue. “Camp Dad” is any occasion where I get to share some time with my boys, other dads and their kids and do manly activities. My only issue with the request is I don’t usually plan out what I am going to cook in advance. I hit the store looking for inspiration, and I came up with a menu. I admittedly do not focus on sides, and this was a pretty typical backyard meal for me to prepare.

The appetizers were bacon wrapped jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese and shrimp. I assembled these by hand and even used a little of my pork rib rub on the bacon for a bonus. This is an item I usually grill, but I chose to only use my smoker and I was really pleased with the result. I have a tray I received as a gift and was able to assemble these ahead of time and simply set them on the pit until the bacon was rendered and the shrimp was cooked. The spice of the jalapeño, the saltiness of the bacon and the creamy texture of the cream cheese all melded into one delicious bite.

One dad decided to cook a Texas-style brisket with an excellent salt and pepper rub. This cook is by far one of the best backyard pitmasters in the Golden Triangle, and it was a welcome addition to the afternoon festivities. I was happy he decided to prepare it at his house, as I did not have the pit room to add anything to my already overcrowded menu. 

The next item off my pit was some roasted garlic. I had simply added a little olive oil, salt and pepper and wrapped it in foil. After about an hour on the heat, it was ready to go. Smoked garlic is really a treat and is just a great addition to any meal.

As I plan on cooking in a few competitions this year, I have been working on my competition ribs. I threw a rack of St. Louis style ribs on earlier in the day and kept close watch on it. Once I hit my desired temperature, I created a glaze of rub, butter, honey and a secret sauce, wrapped them tightly with foil and put them back on the pit. The results were spot on; I have found my competition ribs. They had a great shine and a depth of flavor I look for when I am judging. It will be interesting to see if I get good results with them when my next competition rolls around.

All of this was leading up to the main event — a bacon wrapped, Cajun spiced pork loin stuffed with boudin and cream cheese. I have tried variations of this before, but never put it all together at once. It will certainly be in the rotation in the future. I got the internal temp where I wanted it, then turned up the heat to get the bacon to the desired crispness. I let it rest for a few minutes and then sliced it for my guests. It was unanimously crowned the “Best In Show.”

As word got out among my friends and neighbors, the group of dads and boys grew, topping out at around 25 guests. That is one of the many great things about barbecue: It’s communal. When you merge excellent food and great company, what more could you ask?