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Thread: BBQ Competition

  1. #1
    Senior Member CroMagnon's Avatar
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    BBQ Competition

    I'm going to try it again. I learned quite a bit last time and hope to take advantage of that experience. One of the biggest things I learned is I needed some more equipment and better place to sleep. Sidewalls to my pop up canopy to keep wind and rain out of my food prep area. A stand up tent, minimum 8x8ft and 6ft tall and a cot for sleeping. It will also be nice to have some space to just getting out of sight for a bit of privacy. These two things will allow me to have more focus on the actual cooking. Last time I was so cold, wet and miserable it was hard to stay on top of it all. I have two very simple goals for this time. Have fun and cook better than last time. A friend of mine has volunteered to be my sous chef. It will be a huge help to have someone to work with. You have to have a portable kitchen that's fully compliant with heath dept rules. It is no small undertaking to transport this "thing" and set it up in a field or parking lot.

    Hopefully I'll have some pics and stories to post after it's over.

    Cro

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  4. #3
    Loved your last adventure and can't wait to hear about this one!

  5. #4
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    I agree - we don't bbq nearly enough and I pick up so many ideas on here. A thread like this feels weirdly like Christmas!!
    To infirmity and beyond

  6. #5
    Senior Member Piscivorous's Avatar
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    Do some pineapple, Brazilian style, as a side garnish. It is insanely awesome.
    Harold Camping was wrong. The world ended on April 15th, 2011.

  7. #6
    Senior Member kinnipak's Avatar
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    Yum Yum Yum.....
    "If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun..."

  8. #7
    Senior Member CroMagnon's Avatar
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    Do you have a recipe? I am not a big fan of Pineapple as it's too sweet for me, but have enjoyed it grilled on occasion.

    Cro

  9. #8
    When I've done it, it was just dusting the pineapple with brown sugar and cinnamon. I'm curious whether Pi has a secret ingredient...

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piscivorous View Post
    Do some pineapple, Brazilian style
    Shaved or waxed?
    To infirmity and beyond

  11. #10
    Senior Member Piscivorous's Avatar
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    Cup of brown sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon. Mix those two in a gallon size ziploc bag. Slice your whole pineapple into 6 sections, core and cut the bark off. Put in bag, shake in the mixture and store until ready to BBQ.

    I wasn't a grilled pineapple person either. I've been converted.

    Edit: My secret ingredient is love.
    Harold Camping was wrong. The world ended on April 15th, 2011.

  12. #11
    I've been doing pineapple in honey, butter with a few drops of hot sauce too. My tasting panel loves that one. I do long spears.

    I've done a lot of variations and I'm happier with honey & melted butter than brown sugar. You can add cinnamon or lime juice or cracked black pepper or hot sauce or balsamic. I started with brown sugar, switched to melted butter & brown sugar and now do honey & melted butter.

    You can finish with a splash of rum or orange liquor too.

  13. #12
    Senior Member CroMagnon's Avatar
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    Practice Cook

    I did a practice cook this last weekend. Chicken and Ribs. I made turn in boxes with leaf lettuce garnish. I thought they came out ok. Will try to thin my sauce so I don't get brush strokes. My test boxes were smaller then the actual ones so they won't be so cramped for space. The ribs were slightly overcooked. Not to mush, they didn't completely fall off the bone, but my heat got away from me a bit. I made an adjustment and then opened a beer and forgot about it. Came back to find it had hit 300. Took 15 minutes to get it back down to 250. Even though they were over cooked they had a good texture, just a bit drier than I'd like. And still tasty.


    The chicken is another matter. I have a hard time getting bite-through skin. These thighs were the kind that you bite into and end up with a flap of skin on your chin. Also tasty, but I would have been scored down for the skin. Some competitors remove the skin, debone the thigh, scrape the fat off the inside of the skin and then wrap the boneless thigh meat. They end up looking very uniform. Too much like McNuggets for my taste, but the judges seem to like that. I am unlikely to be doing any of that. I like my chicken to look like it came from a chicken.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  14. #13
    Is it normal to present the meat on a bed of green? There's something about it that looks sterile to me... though I wouldn't say no to some of those ribs...

  15. #14
    The ribs in particular are pretty. The mottled color of the rub really looks nice under the sauce glaze -- looks like a good bit of paprika. They do look to have pulled off the bone a little much, but that's easy to happen when you have beverages to consume. I know a lot of guys finish their thighs with a really hot direct grilling at the end to crisp the skin, but I have trouble getting the skin how I want it too.

    Dogs, putting the meat on a bed of green is pretty much required in competitive BBQ. I think the current fad is to use a bed of parsley -- the really anal guys trim all the leaves off the stems and carefully layer a thick bed of parsley leaf underneath.

    There is a lot of silliness that goes into presentation. Some guys trim all their ribs with the full side of meat on both sides of the rib (Hollywood style, they call it). Other people hate that because then you have to serve from two different racks and you'll probably get different flavor/texture on the other rack. Some guys think you should always have one rib turned sideways. Some guys stack them half leaning on the other half. Its serious business. I keep meaning to get certified as a judge, but I never seem to fit it in.

  16. #15
    Senior Member CroMagnon's Avatar
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    The Results

    The competition was this last weekend. Everything went much better than last time, though I did not win any cash. My best finish was 14th, but more on that in a moment. I still had trouble getting any sleep, maybe an hour. Truly not enough and the biggest thing I have to work on next time. The tent setup was great, but mentally I couldn't shut off my brain, relax and go to sleep. Not to mention it's noisy and smoky everywhere. Right after we laid down to sleep a team next to us fired up all four of their smokers. They produce a lot of smoke for about an hour and much of it went right into our tent.


    Here's a pic of our little camp.

    IMG275.jpg

    First meat to get turned is pork butt at 11am Saturday. It went on at 11pm Friday night, 8 lbs should have taken about 10 hours to get to 195, but at 10:30 it had only gotten to 177. Was cooked and sliceable, but not really pulled pork. We made the best we could out of it and this is the box.

    IMG277.jpg

    Not the greatest looking, but I was happy with the flavors. Judges gave it a score of 163.48 out of 200. I have only tried a few pork butts this big and they take much longer than what I'd read. An estimate is 1.15 hours per pound at 250. Not in my experience. Next time.

    Next up is Brisket and it was a major reason I didn't get more sleep.
    Brisket.jpg

    Turn in is 12 noon. This was an 11 pound wagyu brisket. Same calculation as the pork butt makes it a 12 hour cook with a 2 hour rest, should go on the fire at 10pm Friday. By 3 o'clock it was nearing 155. I thought that was fast, but it should hit the stall around that temp and sit there for as long as 4 hours. Nope. Blew right through that and by 5 it 185. 7 hours early. 30 minutes later it hit 190 and was done. 6 1/2 hours early. I scrambled and got it off the fire and into a chaffing dish where it sat until 10.30. Just getting the timing down on this one meat would have allowed me several hours of sleep which really came back to bite me later on. This was my favorite box and the judge too, 175.24.

    After delivering the brisket to the judges I return to camp to find my buddy, who had been a huge help, sitting in a chair holding his finger and he says, "I cut myself, and it's pretty bad, it really bled." I have been sharpening my own knives and I guess I'm getting better. He ended up having to go to the hospital to get stitches and I was on my own. No Problem, baste the chicken that was almost done, get the ribs unfoiled so they can get a bit more sauce and form some bark and haul and heat some water...No problem.

    Next up is chicken. Not happy about these at all.
    IMG279.jpg
    They don't look terrible, good color, but they are bumpy and oddly shaped and I don't like how they taste. Neither do the judges, they score 153.52. These were a struggle all weekend. First tried to work with them and they were a solid block of frozen chicken. Another piece of this game is meat management. Getting them all thawed and still keep everything cold and packed tight in a cooler is something I have to work on.

    Next up is Ribs. Mmm Ribs.
    IMG280.jpg
    I was pretty happy with these. Good color, taste, a bit over cooked. Last box to prepare. If you look close you can see there are only 5 ribs. I did not notice this and after handing them in headed over to the casino for a well earned beer. I was pretty damn exhausted by this point and I looked at the box and my brain said, "This box is full you are done go have beer." When I got back the head judge came looking for me and gave me the bad news. 6 pieces of any meat is required. The no sleep bit me good. One judge did not get a rib and did not give me a score for Taste or Texture. Judges score, 155.40. At the time it just made me laugh. Later on I calculated what that one rib cost me and it was 24.7 points. Making the ribs score 180.1. Not in the money, but raised it from 20th to 13th. Respectable for me.

    22 teams and I came in 21st. With the extra points it would have been 20th. so no big deal really. But if it had... I might not have thought it was so funny. At my previous competition I scored 566 points. This time around 647, not including my lost rib points. Overall I'm happy. Making progress and I have things to work on. People have asked me did you have a good time? It's not an easy question to answer. It's a grind. At 3am I asked myself if I was enjoying myself and the answer was NO. But after it was all done, looking back...yes. It was harder than I want it to be and I will work on that. Other teams don't grind so hard. They have experience and their process is tight. I need to tighten mine up and then, maybe it will be more fun.

    Cro
    Last edited by CroMagnon; 08-26-2014 at 05:52 PM.

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