The Big Green Egg Cooking Academy
A Southern Country Christmas Feast
I am fortunate enough to live within driving distance of the Big Green Egg headquarters in Tucker, Georgia. The best part of living near the BGE headquarters - being able to attend Cooking Academy classes. Last night was my first experience at a Big Green Egg cooking class and I am hooked. The class was a lot of fun. If you are lucky enough to live near Tucker, Georgia - you really need to check out the Cooking Academy classes that are offered at the Big Green Egg headquarters. You won't regret it.
Last night's class was from 6:00 to 8:30 and since I didn't have time to grab a snack before I left the house, I was really hungry even before I arrived at class. Lucky for me, they were offering appetizers soon after I walked in.
The stuffed mushrooms and smoked sausage were both delicious. The sausage was my favorite. It was really good spicy Italian sausage - it reminded me of the sausage my grandmother used to make.
There was complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks and water available.
There were about 30 guests that attended last night's class. The theme for the class: A Southern Country Christmas Feast. After we had all helped ourselves to appetizers and drinks, Chef D started the demonstration.
Each guest was handed a folder with recipes, a notepad and pen when we arrived at the class. It was really helpful to have my own copy of the recipes to take notes on while I watched Chef D cook.
The first thing that he made was a peach cobbler dump. (Maybe not the most appealing name but it described the cooking method and not the taste.)
All of the cobbler ingredients were "dumped" into a foil lined dutch oven. I think I better add this dutch oven to my Christmas list - it was pretty awesome.
Once all of the ingredients had been added to the dutch oven, Chef D. put a lid on it and took it outside to cook it on a Big Green Egg.
After Chef D. demonstrated how to prepare the cobbler, he showed us how to make cornbread on the Big Green Egg. I haven't tried this at home yet but now that I have seen it done, I'm ready to give it a try.
This is what the cornbread looked like while it was cooking on the Egg.
Chef D added buttermilk to his cornbread which gave it a nice rich flavor.
He used a wooden spoon to mix the cornmeal and buttermilk together.
Next he added "hot" oil to the mixture before pouring it into the cast iron skillet to cook. This may have been my favorite tip of the night. I have never added hot oil to my cornbread but I am going to give it a try.
The cornbread was spectacular. It might just have been the best cornbread that I have ever tasted. After putting the cornbread on the Egg to cook, Chef D. started to prepare the ham.
Chef started with a half ham and added pineapple slices and maraschino cherries to the outside.
Once the fruit was on the ham, Chef D. whipped up a brown sugar and pineapple glaze.
He poured the glaze over the ham.
Now that is what I call a glazed ham. Yum. The whole thing was loosely covered with two layers of foil and put on the Egg to cook for 3-4 hours. Fortunately for us, Chef D had prepared a ham earlier for the guests to sample. It was fantastic.
Chef D. ended the class by making spicy collard greens. I admit that I haven't eaten a whole lot of collard greens in my life - probably because I didn't grow up in the south. I was a bit skeptical. Even though I don't have a whole lot of collard green experience and I haven't eaten very many to compare them to - I thought they were really good. The person behind me in the line described them as "absolutely beautiful." I can't say that I agreed with her description but I did think that they were really tasty.
Chef D. talked about where to find collard greens and the best time to buy them. He was passionate about collard greens and his enthusiasm for this leafy vegetable was contagious.
He also demonstrated how to prepare them for cooking.
He started to prepare the base for his collards and to flavor his base he used turkey butts. (I'm not kidding.) I have never seen anyone cook with turkey butts before but he made a pretty compelling case for them.
He also added turnip root,
diced habanero pepper,
and minced garlic.
At the end of the night we truly had a Southern Country Christmas Feast.
I filled my plate with a little of each food. Everything was delicious but I especially loved the ham and the cornbread. My compliments to the chef for preparing such a delicious meal.
You can find a listing of the cooking academy classes the Big Green Egg website. If you live nearby, I highly recommend attending a class. You will learn a lot and you will definitely not leave hungry.