Food & Football Week 12 2016: The U vs NCSt

My Beloved Osito,

Week 12 is upon us as The U travels to the state of North Carolina (NC) again to face off with the mr-and-mrs-wufNC State Wolfpack.  Going into the last two games of the season, knowing you don’t have a chance to play for the ACC Championship, can make you think that there is nothing to play for.  I hope this mindset is not the case as The U looks to increase their win streak to 3 games and close out the season on a high note, for a change. Realizing that we play a lot of teams from NC, and in an effort to avoid duplicating a meal, I decided on Carolina pulled pork.  It was basically my only option, given that their mascot, Mr. and Mrs Wuf was a nonstarter and I needed a break from the sweet potatoes, state veggie, trend, but I’m sure it will be back though.

Admittedly, I did not cook the “game meal” on game day, but on Sunday.  I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Air Force lab overseeing testing for one of our experiments.  One of the tests was to make one of the cells in the satellite’s battery burn-up to see if the heat would spread and destroy the other cells. This is called thermal runaway and we were going to create this by drilling a screw into one of the battery cells.

The other test was called vibration (vibe) testing. In simple terms we shake the experiment very hard to see if anything breaks.  Unexpectedly during this trip, I govib-testt some parenting tips. Prior to the start of Vibe Testing, we were delayed for about 10 minutes as one of the Doctors brought his kids in to watch. I thought to myself, how cool is this…not many kids get to see things like this and I need to expose you to things like this. You may like it and you may not, but at least you will know it’s an option because I never thought I would be doing this.

Despite cooking the meal after the fact, the game meal and the actual game were both very similar.  The game started off slow, and as a purely defensive battle, as both teams were only able to score 3 points in the first half.  For the meal, it was a slow process, since low and slow is the best when cooking pulled pork. I used smoke and indirect heat on the grill.  I left the pork on the grill for a few hours as we went to church, but upon our return, things began to pick up pace.  The pace picked up for The U as well after they returned from halftime with some much needed offensive adjustments scoring 14 points in the 3rd quarter.

I picked up tpressure-cookerhe pace for the game meal by transferring it from the grill to the pressure cooker. The U completed the game by outscoring NCST 24-10 in the second half on their way to a third straight victory winning 27-13.  After removing the pork from the pressure pot and pulling it, Mami voted to have loaded baked potatoes. The meal rated out at a 7 out of 10 because the grilled (baked) potato just wasn’t the best, but the pork was really good. Next week in the regular season finale, The U hosts the Duke Blue Devils.

Meat Prep:
1. Fully unthaw pork butt and place in a large pan. Pour a bottle of beer into pan
2. With a sharp knife cut small slits (aka season pockets) all around the meat
3. Coat with olive oil, then cover and stuff season pockets with dry rub and minced garlic
4. Let marinate for at least 24 hours turning the butt over half way through the process

Dry rub:
1. In a bowl mix brown sugar, Cajun, dried onion flakes,
adobo, parsley, thyme and black pepper

Cook Prep:
1. Remove meat from marinade and pat dry
2. Lightly coat with soy sauce and add another layer of the dryer rub

Grill Prep:
1. Soak wood chips (I used cherry wood) according to packet instructions
2. Light the grill using the indirect heat method with fire on opposite side of chimney
3. Place the pan with liquid marinade under the rack where the meat will be placed

1. Place meat on grill for ~5 hours rotating the meat on all sides
2. Make sure to keep the heat going by adding coal and soaked wood chips as needed
– The flames died out a little when we went to church
3. Remove meat and cut into chunks
4. Place meat in pressure cooker with some of the liquid marinade from the pan
5. Place on high ~15mins depending on pressure cooker
– Ensure meat is done and it should easily pull apart

1. Take baking potato and cut a few slits into it and coat with olive oil
2. Place the potato in foil with a slice of butter, salt and pepper and seal completely
3. Cook until soft, turning to ensure even cooking


Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”


Food & Football Week 3: The U vs App State

My Beloved Osito,

It’s the third week of the season and by far one of the oddest game weeks I’ve seen.  Regarding the game, we played the Appalachian State Mountaineers at their stadium in “BOONE North Carolina” (every commentator, radio and TV personalities seemed to yell img_4775when they said the city).  It was odd because this school, two years ago in 2014, was a part of the FCS division which would make them a “cupcake”

However, a majority of the fan base was concerned about this game and many of the “experts” either picked us to lose or put us on “upset alert”.  It seemed, because “this team”, in 2007, beat the #5 team in the nation, and in the first game of this year (2016), they took the #9 team to overtime, they would give The U trouble.  Even Vegas only had uimg_4776s picked to win by 3 points.  The hype was compounded because this was the first time App St. had a home game against a Power 5 (SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big Ten [B1G] or Big 12) school and this was held as one of biggest events in Boone history.  For me, it was odd because the school gave me absolutely nothing to work with to create a game day meal.  I couldn’t use Mountaineers for obvious reasons and their mascot is a guy named “Yoself”, which according to Wikipedia is “mountain talk” for yourself.  Side-note, never use Wikipedia as a credible source in school.

But I digress….To lock down a meal idea; I had to do a ‘statewide search.  During this search I found out that sweet potatoes are a pretty big deal in NC.  NC produces over 50% of the sweet potatoes grown in the U.S. and it became the state vegetable in 1995 (  While I was trying to decide on how to grill a sweet potato, The U was running away with the game, literally.  On our first offensive play the running back broke an 80-yard touchdown run and that was basically how the rest of the game played out.  I decided on grilling the potatoes two ways, a whole potato wrapped in foil and grilled slices to create a grilled sweet potato chip. For the ‘dip’, I made a Crème Anglaise sauce.  The whole potato came out as smooth as our first play, but there were lessons learned from the chips. The dip was perfect on both version of the sweet potato and gave me a warm holiday feeling inside.  The final score of the game was 45 – 10 and I give the food a 7 out of 10 with a note that says “you’ll definitely see this during thanksgiving as a side dish.”  Next week The U has a bye so any and everything is fair game.


Whole Sweet Potato

  1. Take a whole sweet potato and rinse. Poke holes in it with a knife or fork
  2. Place the potato on a piece of foil big enough to wrap the entire potato in. Add a little olive oil and a piece of butter
  3. Wrap fully and place on the grill for ~30-35 minutes or until soft to the touch
  4. Top with a little brown sugar and crème anglaise


Sweet Potato Chips

  1. Take a whole sweet potato and rinse. Cut into .5 – 1 inch slicesimg_4764
  2. Coat in olive oil and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon
  3. Grill until desired tenderness, reference lessons learned below
  4. Serve with crème anglaise

Lessons Learned:

  1. Ensure slices are a consistent thickness so they will cook evenly throughout
  2. Place on direct heat to get beautiful grill lines, but move them to higher rack to cook until desired tenderness


Crème Anglaise

  1. In a small saucepan, take 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 teaspoons of vanilla and heat until it starts to bubble around the edges
  2. While cream and vanilla heat, mix 1/3 cup of sugar and 4 egg yolks until smooth.
    1. There are a lot of “hacks” out there to separate a yolk like using a water bottle, but I just use the shell like Moms taught me.
  3. After sugar and eggs are mixed and the cream is bubbling, pour half of the cream into egg mixture while whisking constantly.
  4. Finally, pour the egg, sugar and half of cream back into the saucepan with the remaining cream and whisk. It is done when it sticks on the back of a wooden spoon.


Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”