Pitmaster Erica Blaire’s Go-To Dish Is Her BBQ Blitz Bowl — Try the Recipe For Memorial Day

The award-winning barbecue chef says this casserole-like recipe is always a crowd-pleaser.


Erica Blaire left her career as a criminal defense attorney to study food and wine. Now she's a champion pitmaster.

She's participated in more than 40 competitions, and won season two of The Food Network's BBQ Brawl. But when it comes to cooking in her own home, Blaire told The Messenger that she loves to get creative with leftovers, which is how she developed her favorite go-to dish. 

A bowl full of meat, sour cream, and green onions appears next to the words 'BBQ Blitz Bowl, Chef Erica Blaire'
The Messenger; Dish: Brieanna Moore

"It's like my MacGyver recipe," Blaire says, adding that she makes it "all the time."

Blaire says she’s always had a love for multi-layer dips, and that she first conceptualized this dish while trying to creatively use up leftovers. 

"When I was a kid, my parents were zero-waste," she says. "Me and my dad, we used to sort of like out-do each other on who could make their leftovers the coolest."

She started making the BBQ Blitz Bowl with whatever leftover protein she may have had in the fridge, but it eventually became a main dish that she started to make both for herself and for entertaining with family and friends. 

Erica Blaire cooks ribs over a barbecue pit.
Erica Blaire cooks ribs over a barbecue pit.

The Houston-based pitmaster says the dish is portable, easy enough for children to help out with and adaptable enough to allow home cooks to use whatever ingredients they already have in their kitchens. 

Her recipe has a lot of room for improvising. If you’re not into pork, use chicken, she suggests. If you're more of a hot sauce person, that’s okay, too. Particular about your mac and cheese? Use your favorite kind.

But if you want to serve up the BBQ Blitz Bowl just like Blaire, she's sharing her exact recipe with The Messenger below:

Erica Blaire's BBQ Blitz Bowl
Erica Blaire's BBQ Blitz Bowl.


  • 1 Pork Butt
  • 1 cup Yellow Mustard
  • 1 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 12 oz Mac 'n Cheese, cooked
  • 1 cup Down Home BBQ Rub (or your favorite rub)
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 2 oz BBQ pork rinds, crumbled
  • 1 cup Sweet Bourbon BBQ Sauce (or your favorite sauce)
  • 2 oz sour cream (garnish)
  • chopped green onions (garnish)
  • bacon bits (garnish)


  1. Coat the entire pork butt with a thin layer of yellow mustard.
  2. Sprinkle Down Home BBQ Rub over each side of the pork butt. Make sure you cover every side evenly.
  3. Heat your smoker/grill to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure flames don't touch the pork butt. If you are using a charcoal grill, keep hot coals to one side of the grill and place pork butt on the side with no hot coals under it. (This is called The Indirect Heat Method.) If using a gas grill, then place the pork butt in an aluminum pan and set it on the top rack of the grill away from the flames. "I always place my pork butt with the white fat side facing up," she says, "but it is your choice!"
    • Editor's note: Blaire shares her thoughts on the difference in cooking fat-side up or down:
      • Fat-side up: This can help boost the flavor of your pork. "Fat is flavor," she says, so as it cooks, the pork will take on some of the flavors from the fat as it melts. But you'll have to babysit it a lot more if you're on a gas or electric grill.
      • Fat-side down: This method helps protect the meat from burning as quickly if you have to step away and can't keep a close eye on your protein. However, less of that fat flavor and moisture will be transferred to the meat.
  4. Check pork butt every hour and spritz it with water or apple cider vinegar. This will help form that beautiful mahogany bark on the pork butt.
  5. After four hours, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. When the temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the pork butt from the grill.
  6. In a large aluminum pan, cover pork butt in brown sugar and apple juice. Cover pan tightly with foil and place back on the smoker/grill.
  7. Let it cook for three more hours, checking the internal temperature with your meat thermometer, periodically. When the internal temperature reaches 204 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the pork butt from smoker/grill.
  8. Allow the pork butt to rest for an hour, still covered.
  9. Drain all liquid from the pan and discard or use it to keep the pulled pork moist. Using forks or meat claws, shred the pork butt and add Sweet Bourbon BBQ Sauce and coat the shredded pork in it. Remove any bones or big pieces of fat from the shredded pork.
  10. Arrange and layer pulled pork, followed by a layer of mac n cheese. Top with pork rinds, sour cream, green onions, and bacon bits.

Pro Tip

  • Blaire says that if you're looking to make this dish more quickly, you can do it in 10 to 15 minutes by using pork tenderloin in place of the pork butt.
    • After seasoning your tenderloin, cook it over direct heat, she says. Then, keep flipping it every few minutes over the flames. Once it's cooked, you can use forks to pull the meat apart.
  • Make sure you have a meat thermometer when you're grilling.
    • "I never cook without a meat thermometer in my pocket," the chef says.
  • Blaire likes to spray meat she cooks with a liquid, but it's not completely necessary.
    • "It really helps form that crust and that bark," she says, "so that's why I always spritz any meat that I put on a grill."
    • Blaire says the spraying should happen at least a few times in the early stages of your cook.
Start your day with the biggest stories and exclusive reporting from The Messenger Morning, our weekday newsletter.
By signing up, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use.
Sign Up.