THE HOT SEAT: Tuffy Stone of Cool Smoke Competition BBQ and A Sharper Palate, Richmond, VA
By Stephanie Burt, The Southern Fork
Pitmaster Tuffy Stone is a household name on the competition BBQ circuit although he's a classically trained French chef. He translated his discipline from working in professional kitchens into a discipline mastering the nuances of smoke, a skill which has garnered many an award for him and his team. That includes back-to-back wins at the American Royal World Series of Barbecue, Grand Champion at the 2015 Kingsford Invitational, and his history making run at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational, becoming the only team to ever win the contest three times and the only team to take home back to back top prizes. In addition to his place atop the competition barbecue circuit, Tuffy served as a judge for Destination America’s Barbecue Pitmasters for five seasons, and traveled the world, including cooking for the troops in Kuwait and teaching classes at Meatstock in Australia and New Zealand. When Tuffy returns home to Richmond, VA, you'll most likely find him in his backyard where he loves to cook on the SIF Kettle and gather round the fire with friends and family.
It goes back to when I was growing up, a smell of my grandmother smoking turkeys for holiday gatherings in Lynchburg, VA. She used bullet-style smokers.
For me, fire has this quality about it where people as a group come together. It’s a gathering point, so I just cook the whole meal on it, and depending on the time of year, I follow the seasons. I’m a sucker for a pork chop on that flat iron (Griddle), then I take a bunch of vegetables and leave them in whole form with some simple seasonings, maybe something like coriander, then use my hickory fire and get some on it the same level as you would salt and pepper seasoning. I have been cooking for so long, if I can make less mess, I want that. And it’s such a functional piece, it’s easy to let friends participate in the meal just for fun.
Breakfast. You don’t think about cooking with fire in the top ten of that category, like on [the television show] Family Feud, but I love those griddle accessories so much. Get some country ham, some gravy …
I’m a little out of the ordinary for those into cooking with fire. I was so into fanciful food for so long, and fire is so approachable as a cooking style. But there is a lot of nuance, so it is a bigger challenge than I realized.
Fire and BBQ then weaving it in with my French cooking, paying attention to seasoning blends, side dishes, and focusing on specific preps is my style. I am bringing more attention to the side dishes and am not just going for the typical.
I use hickory, though at first I would cook with applewood, but I couldn’t get it all the time. I’ve gotten so good at managing a fire that I can really manage that smoke.
They need to learn how to keep the proper amount of fuel going so you can keep embers but not make the fire too big. And it changes because wood is really dry or on the other hand green. It’s learning the process, and care and feeding the fire just comes with practice.
A well-built fire-pit becomes part of the landscape. And the SIF Kettle is such a great way to bring a gathering of friends and family together.
Pork Chop with Chili Catsup and Soft Scrambled Eggs
from Pitmaster Tuffy Stone of Cool Smoke Cooking BBQ Team and A Sharper Palate, Richmond, VA
Chef’s Note: Prepare soft scrambled eggs ingredients before cooking chops so that eggs can be cooked while meat is resting.
6 thin-cut pork chops
1 tbsp. salted butter
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Poultry Rub
6 tbsp. half and half
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
½ c. chopped scallions
2 tbsp. chopped chives
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 ½ cups Chile Catsup
- Combine 1 tbsp. salted butter with 1 tsp. Poultry Seasoning and microwave 30 seconds to melt butter.
- Brush pork chops evenly on both sides with seasoned melted butter. Season each chop with 1 tsp. poultry seasoning, making sure to evenly season both sides, then let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Prepare Chile Catsup and warm gently over low heat or, if made in advance, rewarm gently over low heat.
- Prepare ingredients for Soft Scrambled Eggs in advance so that eggs can be cooked while the meat is resting. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, half and half and salt. Whisk mixture until well mixed and pale yellow in color, approximately 30 seconds. Fold in scallions and chives.
- When you are ready to cook, fire up your grill and prepare for direct grilling.
- Place the seasoned pork chops onto the hot grill and cook for 3 minutes, then rotate each chop 90 degrees. Cook an additional 3 minutes before flipping the chops.
- After 3 more minutes, once again rotate each chop 90 degrees and cook until internal temperature of the chops reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Let rest approximately 5 minutes.
- While pork chops are resting, melt butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Once butter has melted, add the egg mixture and let cook undisturbed until the eggs around the outer edges of the pan are just starting to cook.
- With a rubber spatula, bring the the edges towards the center of the egg mixture. Continue to cook for approximately 2 minutes until barely set, constantly fluffing and moving the eggs around the skillet. The eggs will look slightly runny. Immediately transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with 1 tsp. of Poultry Rub.
- Top each pork chop with 2 tbsp. Chile Catsup and serve with Soft Scrambled Eggs. Serve remaining sauce on the side.
Yields a generous 1 ½ cups
1 c. kosher salt
2 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. granulated garlic
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. smoked paprika
2 tbsp. ground sumac
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a medium mixing bowl. Label and store in an airtight container.
Yields 1 ½ cups
1 c. ketchup
¼ tsp. granulated garlic
½ tsp. kosher salt
6 tbsp. distilled white vinegar
½ tsp. Smoked Chili Powder
½ tsp. chipotle pepper powder
½ tsp. pasilla pepper powder
¼ tsp. granulated onion
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Sauce can be stored refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.