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Barbecue University

Wounded Warriors at BBQ U

Wounded Warriors at BBQ U

Baghdad. Fallujah. Kandahar. Kabul. American soldiers saw action in all of them, taking fire and giving it back. So when the Colorado Springs chapter of Wounded Warriors contacted me about visiting with some of the vets while I was in town, the Broadmoor and I thought we could do better. We decided to host a special session of Barbecue University just for them.

I’ve taught literally thousands of classes around Planet Barbecue, but I can tell you this: None gave me more pleasure than grilling and smoking with the 16 guys who showed up at Cheyenne Mountain Lodge this month—IEDs and injuries forgotten—ready to rock the grills.

Class unfolded, as all BBQ U classes do, with a brief lecture explaining the day’s recipes and demonstration of the essential techniques.

The Menu

Jalapeño Poppers and Bacon-Grilled Dates
Warrior Wings (doused with butter-fried jalapeños and hot sauce)
BLT Salad
Oak-Grilled Tri-Tip with Santa Maria Salsa
Mexican Grilled Corn
Smoke-Roasted Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Hot Wings
I divided the group into teams and each stepped up to one of BBQ U’s three dozen grills. We smoke-roasted the poppers (stuffed with crab and pepper Jack cheese) on a pair of Weber Performers. The chicken wings went up in smoke on our Ranch grill. One vet from Santa Maria took charge of grilling the tri-tips over an oak fire in our Grillworks wood-burner, while we grilled the corn (to be slathered with mayonnaise and cheese) on our new Twin Eagles gas grill.
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While the guys mastered some new grilling techniques, I learned some new lingo. And especially not to confuse “direct grilling” with “direct fire” (when you can see who’s shooting at you) and “indirect grilling” with “indirect fire” (when you can’t see who’s shooting at you). The best lesson of the evening was the Marines’ motto: “Improvise, adapt and overcome.” That’s what our troops do when they’re in harm’s way and that’s what we do whenever we face new challenges at the grill.

The Warriors nailed dinner. We sat down to plates piled high with animal proteins. Local vet turned brewmaster Todd Nelson, slaked our thirst with excellent Red Leg beer. Wounded Warrior chapter head David Andrews distributed jars of his excellent “Commando Dave’s” rub.

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I’ve been lucky enough to win a few awards over the years (including an IACP Julia Child Award presented to me by Julia herself). But none can equal the eagle holding a purple heart the guys gave me at the end of class.

The takeaway? Do something nice for a veteran today. It’s thanks to them we live safe and free.

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