BBQ Brawl Recipes

Christie Vanover from Girls Can Grill is competing in Season 4 of Food Network’s BBQ Brawl against 11 other pitmasters and chefs from across the United States.

During the 10-episode series, the chefs are thrown challenges and asked to create their best grilled or barbecued dishes. Below are the recipes Christie created during the show.

BBQ Brawl airs on Food Network Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. Recipes from each week will be posted after the show airs.

Christie Vanover - The Trailblazer. Screenshot from Food Network's BBQ Brawl.

Episode 1

During the first episode, the chefs were asked to cook up some tacos to wow the captains for the team pick. Christie transformed Filipino lumpia into a grilled chicken lumpia taco. It was impressive enough that Chef Anne Burrell chose Christie as her first pick.

Once teams were selected, the team challenge was to prepare a California-inspired smoky feast with tri tip as the main protein. Christie cooked the tri tip, which was named the best tri tip of the day by the judges. She also prepared a smoked sabayon for dessert.

Christie’s tri tip was seasoned with her award-winning Brisket Rub. Chef Brooke Williamson said it was “seasoned beautifully.” Christie made her rub from scratch while cooking on the ranch. You can pick up the pre-made rub on Amazon or at

Episode 2

During Episode 2, Team Bobby won the advantage challenge, which meant Team Anne and Team Sunny were limited to one grill – the Santa Maria grill.

For Team Anne, cooking a full meal on one grill was challenging because some team members were using Dutch ovens directly on the coals and others were using the grill grate. With the Dutch ovens, the grill grate couldn’t drop very low, so it was hard to get the needed heat.

Since Christie got to cook the main protein during episode one, she offered to do a side and dessert. The side wasn’t televised, but it was a chorizo hot maple grilled sweet potato. The potatoes were tucked into the coals and cooked a little too long, so they were turned into a sweet potato mash.

For the dessert, she grilled apple slices brushed with melted butter and cinnamon sugar and stacked them with no-bake cheesecake, a caramel apple sauce and candied pecans. The judges said they liked the concept of the dessert but it needed a little refinement. Click on the recipe below to see what adjustments were made to make the dessert even better.

My teammate Chef Ippy Aiona made a beautiful Hawaiian Style Clam Chowder during episode 2. Check it out.

Episode 3

Christie made it to Episode 3, and this week’s challenge was all about the fresh fish that’s available in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Team Anne agreed that we should prepare a Pa’ina, which is a Hawaiian dinner party. They were really taking advantage of having Chef Ippy Aiona on their team. He is the king of Hawaiian BBQ.

He and Chef Harold Villarosa took on the seafood dishes, and they decided as a team that the Hawaiian luau should also include a pork dish, which Christie took on. She was nervous to be turning in pork during a seafood challenge, especially to pitmaster and judge Rodney Scott.

To tie in with the Hawaiian flavors, she marinated pork tenderloins in a Filipino marinade, grilled them and served them alongside a bed of Hawaiian grilled pineapple coleslaw.

Rodney loved it. He said: “The cook on this pork loin is amazing. Then you have the sweetness of the pineapple slaw along with it. It’s great.” Judge Carson Kressley added his praise, saying “It’s one of my favorite bites of the night.”

Team Anne pulled off another victory, and they survived to cook another day.

Chef Ippy made Togarashi Salmon with Vietnamese-Style Pickles during episode 3. Check out his recipe.

Episode 4

Episode 4 was one of Christie’s favorite episodes because they got to play with chiles. In the first round, the contestants battled it out making spicy chicken wings. She decided to make a Nashville Hot chicken wing and homemade blue cheese dressing.

She started by seasoning the wings with Nashville Hot seasoning. Then, she threw them on the grill to get some smoke and render the fat. Instead of her traditional fried chicken batter, she dusted them with sweet rice flour and cornstarch and dropped them in the fryer.

To key to Nashville Hot fried chicken is to take some of the frying oil and mix it with the seasoning. Then, you quickly toss the wings in that hot oil. The judges loved the crunch on the wings, but she needed to add more seasoning to the oil. They just didn’t bring the heat that the judges were looking for.

For the main brawl, teams had to compete in the Hot Stuff BBQ Challenge. Team Anne had the advantage of using every chile in the pantry. Christie prepared an East Asian Grilled Skirt Steak and Spaghetti Squash Pancit.

Pitmaster Rodney Scott said the skirt steak was cooked perfectly. Chef Brooke called the dish exciting and enjoyed the sweet chiles mixed with the bit of heat.

For dessert, Christie prepared Bibingka, which is a Filipino coconut cake made with sweet rice flour. She added a touch of Aleppo peppers and a mango-fresno pepper salsa on top to meet the heat challenge. Chef Brooke said, “You nailed the cook on this in a smoker, which is really impressive.”

sliced skirt steak on plate with pancit.

East Asian Grilled Skirt Steak with Spaghetti Squash Pancit

Episode 5

In Episode 5, the team captains cooked the first brawl by making next-level BBQ nachos. Chef Anne created a fun flavorful plate of BBQ pork and beans nachos over chicharrones, but Bobby got the win and the advantage with his layered BBQ chicken nachos.

The main brawl was International Fusion. Teams picked a continent and had to meld the flavors of that area with a U.S. BBQ style. Team Anne chose Europe and focused on Tuscany, Italy. Chef Anne told Christie she’d love to see her cook some pork, so Christie smoked up a pork loin on a drum smoker and served it over cheesy grits with peperonata (grilled peppers).

For the domestic BBQ style, Christie went to Alabama and made a creamy mayo-based Alabama white sauce. For the fusion, she adjusted the flavors slightly by adding lemon juice and fresh herbs common in Tuscany. The sauce was brushed over the pork loin. Then it was smoked at 275F degrees to an internal temperature of about 110F degrees.

She pulled it from the grill and let it rest. Then added it to the kettle grill just before service to get a char and bring it up to 145F degrees. Unfortunately, the rest time in between was too long and Christie battled getting the meat all the way up to 145F before the clock ran out.

She sliced the loin and layered the pieces on top of the bed of grits and grilled peppers. It was topped with a heavy drizzle of the “Tusca-bama” white sauce and fried sage leaves.

Pitmaster Rodney Scott had great things to say about the sauce. “You did Alabama right. It has a nice tang to it.” He said he really enjoyed the grits, but the pork was a little uneven on the cook. Carson also said his was a little raw in the middle.

Fortunately, Team Anne’s other dishes were pretty flawless and they were safe for week 5.

sliced pork loin on top of grits with tuscabama white sauce.

Smoked Pork Loin with Tusca-bama White Sauce over Grits

Episode 6

During episode 6, the contenders finally got to barbecue for more than two hours, but there was a major twist. Each team was provided a suckling pig to cook in six hours, but they each had a different pit. Team Bobby won the advantage, so they got to cook on a cinder block pit. Team Anne chose a spit rotisserie and Team Sunny was left with an open campfire.

While the spit seemed like an advantage, as the team placed the pig on the rods, they realized it was really wobbly and could only be manually turned from the top rung. Chef Anne was a trooper and rotated the hog for the full cook, but at the top level, it just didn’t get the heat it needed.

In the middle of cooking the pig, the contenders were thrown a quick challenge and had to make a dish with banana leaves.

Christie made a batch of Campfire Macaroni and Cheese. She added a bit of longanisa sausage to the base and piled the mac and cheese in the banana leaves with some panko breadcrumbs. The purses of mac and cheese were placed on the grill to get some of the banana leaf flavor.

Carson said it was so creative, and Chef Brook said, “It holds the flavor of that banana leaf so beautifully.” Rodney said he wished it had more sausage, but said it was “cheesy, crispy and banana leafy.”

Chef Ippy won the challenge with his banana leaf-wrapped pork loin and grilled pineapple jalapeno salsa, so Team Anne won the challenge and got to put Chef Bobby Flay in jail for 30 minutes, so he couldn’t help his team.

As the pig was roasting, the team realized it was not cooking fast enough. They pulled it off the spit, cut it into sections, wrapped it in foil and buried it in the coals. In the end, the meat was cooked, but it was not as tender as it needed to be.

Christie wanted the hams and shoulders to reach at least 190F degrees for buttery tenderness, and they only got to about 160F.

For their Filipino Kamayan Feast, Christie served the judges a grilled chicken lumpia appetizer. Carson said it was delicious, crunchy and had tons of flavor. Chef Brooke said the dipping sauce had the perfect amount of heat, was texturally interesting and very craveable.

Christie’s main course was a pulled pork slider on a Hawaiian roll with green apple slaw and Maui onion mustard sauce.

Rodney said he wished the slider had more pork, but said the pork was a little bland and the slaw was overpowering the flavor of the pork.

Carson said the pork didn’t have a soft, melt-in-your-mouth feel. Instead, it had a little bit of a bite to it. Chef Brooke said she wanted the slider to be piled with pork, but said if there was more pork, it would be tough to get through.

Because Team Anne’s pig wasn’t cooked as well as the other teams, they landed on the bottom for the week. Chef Brooke said Christie’s sliders fell flat and she was sent home.

“I definitely came here to inspire other women to grill, to show that you can get a little dirty,” Christie said after the announcement. “I think I accomplished what I came here to do. I just wanted to take it a little bit further.”

As Christie walked off set, Chef Brooke said, “The talent level here is really high and it’s hard because you can technically go home after cooking really good food because everybody is cooking really good food.”