Recap: BBQ Brawl S2E7 – “Seafood Showdown”

Monk: In a bit of a change of pace, I’m going to try my hand at TV recapping for the second season of BBQ Brawl, which airs for *checks notes* 10 episodes *gulp* on Monday nights at 9pm ET on Food Network. 10 episodes? Well let’s see how this goes…

Note: I’ve corrected the episode numbers on this and all other recaps after getting tripped up whether the super-sized premiere was considered one or two episodes. Nonetheless, we should be good to go now.

After a bit of trash talk between the team captains, we are reminded that Team Eddie is down to one contestant and now gets to steal a competitor from either Team Bobby or Team Michael to join Christopher. Eddie chooses Brittani from Team Michael, who he says “has been on fire” the past few weeks. Michael bemoans losing such a strong competitor.

Eddie then chooses the next Advantage Challenge: grilled oysters. He is a Houston resident and thus is feeling confident going in for this captains challenge, but Bobby also feels comfortable with grilled oysters. Michael perhaps less so.

Eddie’s New Orleans-style chargrilled oysters with lump crab meat beats out Michael’s Asian-influenced oysters with Cleveland caviar (pickled mustard seeds) and Bobby’s grilled oyster with smoked shrimp and compound butter. So his confidence going in works out for him, and he gets his team an advantage in the seafood challenge of having the ability to steal mystery ingredients from other teams Dirty Santa-style. He takes the king crab legs from Team Michael, leaving them with the octopus. Team Bobby gets to keep their salmon.

Each team has to use their ingredient in each of their dishes in the “Seafood Showdown,” which is an abbreviated 90 minutes long. Turns out the octopus doesn’t bother Michael or this team at all and each of the contestants seem to have a background with it. The other teams look comfortable with their ingredient, so this week it will all come down to execution.

In order of judging:

Team Eddie goes with a crab theme for their platter. Eddie himself grills crab legs and tops with a gremolata. This was a big hit with the judges. Christopher’s plantain tostone with crab guisado (crab and tomato stew) is not as crab forward as judges would have hoped so looks like he won’t be in the running for top dish. Brittani’s grilled crab with sambal and spicy corn is good once the judges are able to combine all ingredients onto a forkful but her beer battered crab nuggets get dinged for not being grilled or smoked. Kind of important when it comes to a barbecue show, notes Rodney Scott.

Team Michael deals with the octopus in a Texas-meets-Mediterranean themed meal. Michael’s burnt flour and squid ink pasta with octopus sauce gets praise from judges for his technique in getting smoke into pasta. Ara’s braised octopus with lardons is on the chewy side, and David’s Spanish octopus stew gets dinged for using some of the same octopus from Ara which results in two different octopus textures in the dish.

Team Bobby’s “salmon three ways on the grill” starts with Bobby’s charred green curry salmon with crispy cowboy rice gets rave reviews from the judges. Bobby clearly was at ease cooking salmon in this challenge. Taylor’s salmon pinwheel with gochujang sauce and stuffed shishito is “very rich” which is “overwhelming” to Brook; never a good thing. Erica’s seafood gumbo lacks flavor and salt even after she got some tips from Bobby mid-cook but Erica hopes that the crispy salmon chicharrons will help save her.

After all meals are judged, there doesn’t seem to be a clear favorite since each team had issues in execution. Team Michael apparently gets graded on a curve for the difficulty of cooking the octopus and is the first safe team. Team Eddie is also safe, and Eddie avoids going back down to one contestant yet again.

That means Team Bobby will lose a teammate, and Taylor makes it two weeks in a row that a contestant goes home for a cream cheese dish (after Lu last week). Erica gets emotional in losing her best friend in the competition but will also have a new teammate soon enough. We’ll find out who Bobby steals next week for an international barbecue challenge.

Bells for Taylor, the Georgian pastry chef.

Christopher Prieto Watch

Not Christopher’s best showing this week, especially on a dish that is so near and dear to his heart. I believe this is the second time he has done plantain tostones, and I don’t think either has gone particularly well. Nevertheless, he moves on to the next week. Christopher and Brittani seemingly get along well enough this week and should continue to be a strong team in the competition.

What was your favorite part of episode 7 of BBQ Brawl season 2? Leave your response in the comments and be sure to check back next week for a recap of episode 8.

Recap: BBQ Brawl S2E6 – “BBQ Brunch Battle”

Monk: In a bit of a change of pace, I’m going to try my hand at TV recapping for the second season of BBQ Brawl, which airs for *checks notes* 10 episodes *gulp* on Monday nights at 9pm ET on Food Network. 10 episodes? Well let’s see how this goes…

Well barbe-cuties, while we may have hit the halfway mark of the 10 episodes a couple weeks back, this is the true halfway mark in terms of remaining contestants. Team Bobby lost once again and this week he has a hankering for brunch. So the advantage challenge – with the advantage being a prize for an individual as opposed to a team – is a barbecue-inspired eggs benedict.

A traditional eggs benedict is an English muffin, Canadian bacon, poached egg, and Hollandaise sauce. Not something that I’ve ever eaten or made myself. The judges agree that it must have the poached egg and Hollandaise sauce, so contestants deviate from that at their peril.

Off the bat, a few appear ready to do so; Erica announces her intent to do shaksuka, a North African poached egg dish. Lu doesn’t want to make a Hollandaise sauce so she goes with a barbecue sauce to go over her immaculately poached eggs. Ara goes with a rolled omelet instead of a poached egg. None of the risks of these folks pay off into a win.

That ends up being Brittani on Team Michael, who wins with her sweet and savory French toast eggs benedict and wins a big $5,000 prize pack from BBQ Brawl sponsor BBQ Guys.

The team challenge is a BBQ Brunch Battle expanding upon the advantage challenge. Each team gets 2 hours for a full barbecue-influenced brunch experience.

I’m convinced Team Michael wins somewhat based on volume, but their “Balanced Brunch” does get some praise in Michael’s salmon and watermelon salad as well as David’s eggs in hell as well as Brittani’s smoked fried chicken. They win pretty comfortably.

For Team Bobby, Erica brings some South American flavor to the challenge and impresses the judges with a lomo al trapo (Colombian-style cloth-wrapped grilled beef tenderloin). While Erica gets dinged for her smoked chicken pot pie, they are safe this week. Erica sprints off the set, lest anyone changes their mind.

Team Eddie loses due to execution issues on dishes from both Christopher and Lu. Christopher’s Puerto Rican steak and eggs needed more acid from the chimichurri sauce and Lu’s frittata didn’t have the right egg texture. Her crepe dessert was more successful but even still, it still had some issues. In the end, between not giving a proper eggs benedict and then a lacking frittata, Lu goes home.

Bells for Lu, the Midwestern sauce queen.

Christopher Prieto Watch

Christopher’s team ends up on the bottom this week but Lu goes home. Even she agrees that it’s the right decision. Christopher is the last contestant standing on Team Eddie but will get a new teammate next week as Eddie now gets a chance to steal a teammate from another team. Who will it be? Will they be put off by Christopher’s confidence? We’ll find out next in what looks to be a seafood challenge.

What was your favorite part of episode 6 of BBQ Brawl season 2? Leave your response in the comments and be sure to check back next week for a recap of episode 7.

Recap: BBQ Brawl S2E5 – “Competition ‘Cue”

Monk: In a bit of a change of pace, I’m going to try my hand at TV recapping for the second season of BBQ Brawl, which airs for *checks notes* 10 episodes *gulp* on Monday nights at 9pm ET on Food Network. 10 episodes? Well let’s see how this goes…

Well barbe-cuties, this episode kicks off the second half of the season and each team has lost at least one member with Team Eddie having lost two. Having done “hot and fast” barbecue so far this season, this week the episode jumps right in with a four meat “low and slow competition ‘cue” team challenge.

That means over the next seven hours each team am have to prepare four meats and two sides; the meats are Texas brisket, Carolina pork, Memphis ribs, and Kansas City…chicken(?). Kind of shoe-horning that KC-style with the chicken there, aren’t we? Maybe go Alabama-style even if that’s not one of the major four styles.

Right away, Christopher is visibly excited at this challenge due to his and Lu’s competition background, and his excitedness gets him into a little spat with his captain Eddie when they have a difference of opinion on the second side.

On Team Bobby, Taylor and Terry waste no time to start their bickering and Erica clutches her crucifix and says a quick prayer. Ara on Team Michael is a little concerned with just 7 hours for brisket, but thinks he can make it happen during that time.

After the longer cooks get going, we finally get to the advantage challenge which Bobby gets to pick after suffering his first defeat last week. With the contestants busy with their meats, Bobby challenges the captains to a 20 minute mac and cheese challenge. Twenty minutes isn’t the ideal time for mac and cheese, but in the end Michael’s homemade spaetzle beats out Bobby’s chorizo mac with okra crust and Eddie’s green chile mac and cheese. The advantage ends up being: the ability to use a captain from the other teams for 30 minutes which could either be used for grunt work or even used strategically to keep him from helping his team at a crucial time.

Team Bobby’s energy is visibly off, even from the judges porch, so Bobby brings the team together and helps them hash it out. Terry admits he started the trash talking, and the team elbow bumps into hopefully a better headspace. We’ll see if that can help Terry’s struggle-pork that had no rub, was cooking at a very low temp for a bit, and is getting the marinade a couple hours in. I’m not seeing how this could possibly be a winner for him.

Michael uses his advantage to get Bobby to shred some cheese and…not much else. He dismisses him early, so not much of an advantage.

Brittani’s chicken and collards are hits with three judges but Ara’s brisket is a little dry but has a good bark. David’s pork needs vinegar and his ribs are out of balance but mac and cheese ends up a winner after he smartly abandoned Michael’s waffle idea halfway through.

Terry’s open faced NC pulled pork is greasy and an affront to any NC barbecue fan. Erica’s brisket that was separated prior to cook and injected with Worcestershire sauce (“wooster) is well received, and her cuban beans are as well. Taylor’s chicken has a rubbery skin and her Memphis-style dry rub ribs are just that – a little dry. Once again, her dessert ends up saving her as the banana pudding is a hit.

Lu’s chicken pillows has one of her great sauces, a honey barbecue. Then comes the Christopher show: his pulled pork has no major dings, his brisket is smoked well but doesn’t quite have the bark, and his ribs aren’t as life-changing as he assumed they would be. Eddie focused on the sides and his collards and barbecue beans seem standard.

In the end, the 2+1 contestant Team Eddie gets the W and Team Michael is also safe. As may have been foreshadowed by all the earlier infighting, Team Bobby is on the chopping block. All the proteins had their issues, but Terry goes home for his greasy pork. Could have probably seen this coming, as he is the lone remaining non-competition contestant.

Bells for Terry, the trash talker-in-chief.

Christopher Prieto Watch: Christopher handles the bulk of the meats for the team with seemingly mixed results during judging, but helps get them to safety with the overall win. He continues to rub some folks the wrong way, and this week that includes his captain Eddie. In the end, he is a big part of his teams W despite the misstep on his bbq beans that Eddie had to step in and fix. He moves on to next week, though I do wonder if Lu will soon tire of his (over) confidence.

What was your favorite part of episode 5 of BBQ Brawl season 2? Leave your response in the comments and be sure to check back next week for a recap of episode 6.

Recap: BBQ Brawl S2E4 – “Game Day BBQ”

Monk: In a bit of a change of pace, I’m going to try my hand at TV recapping for the second season of BBQ Brawl, which airs for *checks notes* 10 episodes *gulp* on Monday nights at 9pm ET on Food Network. 10 episodes? Well let’s see how this goes…

For the second week in a row as the previous week’s losing team, Eddie gets to choose the advantage challenge and goes with chicken wings, giving the contestants 30 minutes to produce their best versions. A lot of contestants go with some variation on the standard buffalo wing but a few stand out.

David on Team Michael actually owns a chicken wing business, and his fennel wings seem to intrigue the captains and judges. Ara uses his fine dining experience and decides to confit the wings in duck fat on the grill, which will keep the ducks juicy and prevent them from overcooking. Terry’s honey barbecue wings are also promising, and Lu actually goes with a cranberry sauce wing using the full wing. Lu actually owns her own sauce company that has her sauces in “over 700 stores nationwide” but in the end it’s her teammate Christopher and his “triple threat” wings that are smoked, fried, and then finished on the grill with an jalapeno apricot sauce is declared the winner which gives their team the advantage of Eddie being able to call timeouts on each of the other teams for 10 minutes.

For the team brawl challenge, the theme continues in the form of a Tailgate Feast where the teams have 3 hours to produce a gameday-themed meal. And of course, there is the looming advantage for Team Eddie hanging over the other two teams. Depending on how much of a stinker he wants to be, he could really screw one or both of those teams up with his timing.

Which of course, he does to Team Michael roughly an hour and a half in when he catches Terry with his racks of ribs on direct heat. This spells the end of those particular racks, but Terry does have one leftover that he can try to salvage in his remaining time. During the timeout, the bickering between Terry and Taylor that started at the beginning of the cook continues. Taylor asks Terry why his ribs were on direct heat to begin with (a perfectly valid question) before trying to brainstorm what to potentially do with ribs once they are out of timeout. Terry shuts down and doesn’t want any feedback from Taylor or the rest of his teammates, only worrying about his ribs.

Team Michael smartly learns from Terry’s mistake and wraps their meats in foil and gets them to a good place before their time out is called. David is a little peeved and worries about the bark on his ribs but in the end he and his teammates avoid disaster.

For Team Eddie’s “Rub You the Right Way Tailgate”, they smartly provide each judge a beer. Lu makes a smoked queso dip and chicken lollipops while Christopher makes bbq rice and ribs. Lu’s smoked queso dip is a little broken while her chicken lollipops look great but the skin that is wrapped down over the leg is a little chewy, getting into the way of the dark meat. Christopher has more success starting with the ribs glazed with a sauce from Lu, which Carson calls “life changing.” His bbq rice gets less praise but overall, the judges like their tailgate feast and calls the ribs some of the best food they’ve had thus far.

Team Bobby’s feast is dubbed “Don’t Call it a Comeback Tailgate.” Taylor makes mac and cheese balls but Brook finds that the goat cheese overpowers the rest of the cheese and Rodney prefers the crispy outside to the inside. Terry, whose ribs were the victims of the timeout, scrambles and collaborates with Bobby to get gochujang pork loins and the one remaining rack of ribs done in less than 1.5 hours. The pork loin turns out excellent but the ribs were cooked a little too quickly. Erica’s tostadas with ribeye suffer from a chewy tostada and too little steak while Brendan’s Texas Twinkie-stuffed quail, with a bacon-wrapped jalapeno stuffed inside a quail. The bacon loses its crispiness inside the quail, which itself was overcooked.

Team Michael’s “All Hands on Deck Tailgate” is all made to all be eaten with hands and is served with mojitos. David makes a roasted corn salsa and a St. Louis-style rib with harissa and ancho chiles, which the judges like the flavor of but find to be a bit overdone. Brittani’s baby back ribs have nutmeg in the rub and the judges generally like. The final rib is a beef rib from Ara that could use a little more flavor.

Team Eddie wins the challenge on the back of Christopher’s ribs glazed with Lu’s sauce while Team Michael is also safe. The means Bobby’s team is finally heading to the chopping block, and their team of 4 will be reduced to 3. In the end it seems that Erica’s ribeye tostadas and Brendan’s quail are the least successful dishes, and one of the will be eliminated. That ends up being Brendan, and he is ok with that decision because he is embarrassed at his dry quail. Erica and Terry are both visibly shaken at their first time on the bottom.

Bells for Brendan, the west Texas barbecue man who feels he is a better man because of the experience.

This episode marks the halfway point through the season, and it looks like next week looks to be more of a “low and slow” challenge that shifts (at least for one episode) from live fire cooking/grilling to more traditional barbecue. Hopefully that will continue past episode 6.

Christopher Prieto Watch: Christopher is called the MVP of the day between his winning wings and his fantastic ribs. While his cockiness gets called out by David and he gets into a little tit-a-tat with Bobby about “showing Bobby Flay a thing or two about chicken wings” and gets this reaction from him:

On this day at least Christopher backs it up. But it seems like his cockiness is rubbing some contestants the wrong way, so it’ll be worth tracking. Next week, Christopher seemingly gets some props from Rodney during next week’s “low and slow” challenge so his head may continue to balloon with confidence.

What was your favorite part of episode 4 of BBQ Brawl season 2? Leave your response in the comments and be sure to check back next week for a recap of episode 5.