Local cue-lovers who frequent the Memphis Barbecue Co. in Horn Lake won’t be surprised by this accomplishment: Melissa Cookston and Yazzo’s Delta Q, her storied competitive cooking team, have won the first Kingsford Invitational Barbecue Competition. The win comes with a $50,000 prize.
The local pitmasters competed against seven other championship teams in a cook-off televised for the cable channel Destination America. The show, “BBQ’s Ultimate Championship: The Kingsford Invitational,” airs Sunday at 9 p.m.
Cookston’s team also won the competition’s One Bite Challenge (and another $5,000) with their “Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Shrimp.” The recipe, a wonderfully Southern mix of pepper bacon, cream cheese, and jalapeños prepared over charcoal, is detailed below.
The extra challenge tagged along with the four traditional competitive categories of pork, brisket, chicken, and ribs. The Yazzo's won four out of the five categories.
Cookston and her team have had a busy and successful year. The team won the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Content in 2012 (both grand champion and whole hog) before heading to Belle, Missouri, in mid-November for the Kingsford Invitational.
The only female barbecue champion in the world, Cookston owns and operates Memphis Barbecue Co. with John Wheeler and her husband Pete Cookston. The group, all competitive pitmasters, also own a second Memphis Barbecue Co. in Fayetteville, North Carolina, that opened earlier this year.
Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Shrimp
Makes: 20 servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 5-10 minutes
20 Gulf shrimp
20 slices pepper-cured bacon
1 8-ounce rectangular package cream cheese
1 jar whole pickled Jalapeños
Thai sweet chili sauce
Preheat a grill to medium-high heat using Kingsford® charcoal. While grill preheats, peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails on.
Cook bacon directly on the grill grate until it is close to being fully cooked, but is not crispy. Set aside.
Slice cream cheese into 1/4 x 1/4 x 1/2-inch long slices. Select pickled jalapenos that are roughly the same dimensions as the cream cheese. Remove stems and seeds.
Place one strip of cream cheese and one jalapeño piece on each shrimp, then wrap with a slice of grilled bacon. Secure with a toothpick, then place the shrimp with tails on the cool side of the grill so they won’t burn.
Cook for 2-3 minutes until bacon is crispy and the shrimp is pink throughout. Remove from fire, brush liberally with Thai sweet chili sauce, and serve.
Recipe created by the Yazoo’s Delta Q competition barbecue team for the One Bite Challenge category of the Kingsford® Invitational.