Posts Tagged ‘BBQ Competition’
Visiting a BBQ Competition?
Here are a few tips on BBQ Etiquette
- BBQ Teams have paid to compete – please note most take it seriously. Teams pay for everything from the competition fee to the meats and supplies.
- IF you see someone walking a turn in box (usually a 9×9 Styrofoam box) please move out of their way.
- IF you see someone walking a tray of food items please move out of their way.
- Do not under any circumstances ever take any food from tables within a competition site without asking first. Most competitions do not allow public sampling. Please visit the vendors to purchase food and support the event.
- Be respectful of the competition sites. Do not cut through a team’s site to get to another section of the competition area. That’s like walking through someone’s house.
- Mind your manners, your pets and your children. Children and their parents should be aware that there are hot grills and sharp knives at every site. Do not let your children or dogs run around team sites. Do not let your drunk friends run around team sites either.
- Do not touch another person’s grills ever…. without asking first.
- The clock rules everything at a competition. Teams need to turn in items on a specific schedule. During those turn in times teams may not want to have a conversation or stop to talk. It is nothing personal. These times are approximately 1130am-2pm however at each contest times can vary.
- Please ask before taking pictures of teams preparing their entries or of the teams themselves. Some teams would rather not have pictures of their items out in the public.
- Some events have adult beverage tents. Please enjoy responsibly.
- There are quiet hours at every BBQ contest. Please respect them.
- Please come out to the awards ceremony and cheer for all the teams. The more the merrier.
- Ask questions from teams in the non-busy hours. We love to talk about all things BBQ.
- Visit team websites like www.divaq.ca & www.kcbs.us for more information about competition BBQ.
Bacon apple chestnut stuffed pork loin
3lb pork loin
10 slices bacon
For the stuffing
3 c large seasoned croutons
2 ½ c diced apple
1 c reduced sodium chicken stock
1/3 c chopped parsley
¾ c chopped roasted chestnuts
6 slices bacon chopped
2 onions diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
In a medium sized pan on medium level heat fry bacon until crisp. Using a slotted spoon or bamboo strainer remove the bacon and set aside.
Add chopped onion, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic to the residual bacon fat. Stir often scraping any bacon residue from the bottom of the pan. Sauté until the onion has softened. Add the diced apples and reduced sodium chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and add the croutons. Mix thoroughly cover and remove from heat.
Butterfly the pork loin using 3 cuts to open like a book. See this video for instructions -
Cover the pork loin with plastic wrap. Pound the pork with a mallet to make it a uniform thickness. Remove cover from the stuffing and fluff with fork. Add parsley to the stuffing mixture.
Spoon the stuffing mixture onto the pork loin leaving a 1 inch frame around all of the edges.
Starting at one end – roll the pork and stuffing together to make a tight roll.
Wrap pork with bacon lightly overlapping each layer. Secure with butchers twine.
Grill indirect at 275F until a digital thermometer reads 155F. I used oak and hickory wood pellets. Rest for 10 minutes then slice. Feeds a crowd.
I often get asked for advice about starting a Competition BBQ Team. Its a never ending process. I learn something at every contest.
Here are a few forms I use for each and every competition
Here are some helpful tips to get you started as a competition team. Remember Having fun is a big part of it but planning it can make it a whole lot better.
Practical tips & advice for new competition BBQ teams
Keep practicing until you get completely comfortable within competition timelines. Practice until you are sick of eating bbq. When you practice at home follow the same timelines as a real competition. Set up like you would a real competition (no running back into the house).
Ask your friends to critique your food. Ask them to rate it just like at a competition. Give them score cards. After a competition analyze your scores. Find out what the judges didn’t like. It’s not personal. It’s just competition. Learn from it.
- Good Notes are worth their weight in gold
At every contest and for every test cook keep notes and take lots of pictures. In addition your expenses should be tracked as well. How much you spend on all of the items you need and what it cost to get there. Be practical. You can’t do every contest (unless you are a millionaire) so pick and choose carefully based on your income and comfort level in spending money on a hobby.
Things to take note of:
Temperature outside, and inside your grill
Placement on the grill
- Change one thing at a time.
When making changes to your flavor profiles, cooking temperature or any other competition change – only change one thing at a time. Measure the results and adjust accordingly. If you change too much you don’t know what you are measuring.
- Clean as you go.
When you finish a turn in clean up and set up again for the next category. Don’t leave this till the last minute. A clean and de-cluttered competition table makes for an easier environment to work in.
For easier cleanup I like to use Smoky Mountain Smokers Disposable Cutting Boards- they make cleanup lot easier and there is much less chance for cross contamination.
- Consistency Consistency Consistency
Set up the same at every contest. Set your grills up, your tables up even the drink coolers in the same location. Do things on schedule at the same time. You should plan what you are doing every hour of the contest. Saves valuable time when it comes to turn in crunch time.
- Have a back-up plan
If you use electrical based grills- have a generator and make sure you have gas. Same for electrical appliances – be prepared. If the contest runs out of power how do you recover? Make a plan.
- Be Considerate, have fun and play nice.
Introduce yourself and your team to other teams. Don’t play your music too loud. Don’t encroach on your neighbours’ competition site. Ask before entering anyone’s site or wait to be invited. Share electricity and water fairly. Mind your own kids- don’t let them run all over other people’s sites. Offer to help someone if you can. Ask general questions but don’t ask specifics i.e. – what’s in a competitor’s sauce or rub. Everyone remembers the idiots.
- It’s a lot cheaper to party at home.
Drinking to excess at a contest really doesn’t make that much sense. It is a pretty darn expensive party. Save the liquid libations for after the last turn in time and when the packing and cleaning is done. It’s not a pretty sight to have to clean up BBQ gunk and grease when you are hung over. Plus if you play make sure you stay the night or have a designated driver.
- Taste trumps everything.
Taste is the #1 most important factor in scoring for KCBS. Keep that always in mind that you should be spending more time on taste than appearance- always.
- Be Prepared
Find out what the weather is going to be like well in advance. Search the contest location on Google maps. Take note of where the water and electricity is. Find out who you should contact in case of an emergency.
Have an inventory list of all the items you use in competition. For sauces and rubs make sure you have enough for each contest. Order regularly to ensure freshness.
- Share with your competition neighbors.
Wherever possible try other competitor’s entries. Write down what you taste. Make notes on their turn ins. Ask for honest feedback from them. Its good – doesn’t tell you much. Ask them to be specific.
- Shorten the learning curve.
Before the contest read the Competition forums on the net. Watch you tube videos. There is lots of great information out there on box presentations, rubs, how to videos and sauces. Take a class from an experienced competitor. Take a judging class. Judge a contest. See what is being turned in. All of these will help shorten the learning curve.
- Shut up Pay attention and listen.
Pay attention to your competitors and what they are doing. Listen to experienced bbq’ers on the competition circuit. Ask the contest reps for advice. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion. Often the best advice received is not the advice that was solicited.
- Edit delete and remove.
After a contest take a look at what you packed and what you actually used. Always go back and edit your notes, delete anything unnecessary and remove anything you didn’t use. Packing too many just in case items just adds up to a much longer competition clean-up. For example I love these heavy duty bus pans. They serve multiples of purposes. i use them to pack items in them. Then when I arrive at a contest I line them with bags to prep- then finally as a dish pan. Three purposes one item to pack.
- Show me the money!
Remember that you don’t write the check. You don’t give out the scores. What you like to eat and the flavor profile you enjoy- doesn’t matter. The only people that matter are the judges. It’s their opinions and taste buds that put you on the podium. You should taste test everything with a clean palette (no smoking or drinking anything but water) but remember just because you love 5 spice powder with a heavy hot sauce doesn’t mean the judges will.
We went to this contest as a family. It was a super nice change from the Royal. I love being with my family at BBQ contests. The route to and from PA was spectacular with all of the fall foliage.
The contest was a KCBS & MABA event. KCBS categories Chicken Ribs Pork and Brisket and MABA categories Weavers Bologna, Bell Evans Chicken Wings Bell Evans Leg and thighs plus dessert.
I got the shock of my life when we received our products to use in the auxiliary categories. The Lebanon bologna was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It is much closer to a sweet summer sausage. I had no idea what to do with it. My plans went out the window as soon as I saw it. I had never entered a bologna contest ever. Both the bologna and the wings were submitted on Friday night so it was a busy evening.
So I cubed it up and slathered it with Sam Dog BBQ Mustard Sauce and a few other ingredients. Placed it in one of the Traegers and let it smoke for 4 hours until all the sides were caramelized. Lets just say it wasn’t pretty, but it was super tasty. We put it in our individual containers added a shot of Forty Creek whiskey as a chaser and sent it off to the judges.
We also competed in the wing category. I love categories with open plating and we had a lot of fun with this one. We decided to give the judges some of our Yeungling beer as a side to the wings. I mean really who doesn’t love wings and beer?? I wish we could have tried one of teh wings but we had so few to work with (Meat was supplied) that we just had enough to barely fill the plate.
The rest of our Friday night was spent socializing. There are a lot of teams we got to catch up with including one of my Sisters in Smoke Jenny from Black Cat BBQ.
After a few libations I headed off to bed for a couple of hours. It was a lovely albeit cold evening. Perfect for me.
When I woke up one of my other neighbors was up and stoking the fire in his Jambo. Mike Richter is an uber BBQ competitor. Currently ranked #3 in the KCBS TOY. He is super kind and nice to chat with I am glad to call him a friend. I don’t get to see him or Barb often enough.
Then as the sun rose I took a bit of a walk about. Got to visit with the Smokin Gnomes, Tim, Tiny’s BBQ, and a whole lotta other terrific people.
The time got away from me a bit and I put on my Bell Evans best legs contest meat a bit late. Grill Grates came to the rescue and we turned in grilled chicken. It was tasty chicken. Much different from our normal KCBS chicken.
I can blame the time getting away from me on one thing. Donuts. Seriously damn good donuts. The biggest box of donuts ever that was provided to the teams along with coffee too! Like a moth to a flame I was entranced….
The rest of the entries including dessert last went off without a hitch. They went in the boxes fine but the brisket was dry and I tried a couple of new presentations that I was thinking of doing for the Jack next weekend. I figured if the brisket came in above DAL well then the judges were going to be very generous.
The awards ceremony time came and we headed off.
To my absolute shock we got a 1st place in bologna. LOL still makes me giggle.
We also took a 3rd in dessert 4th in wings and a 4th in Pork. The judges were uber generous and gave us 39/47 in brisket. They didn’t like our ribs 23/47 or our chicken 24/47 overall coming in at 21/47. Ugh. The Bell Evans BEst legs I am not sure where we ended up as they only reported to 5th place.
Huge congratulations to Aporkalypse Now (aka Myron of the North) for their GC and to Lo & Slo BBQ on their RGC and to all who competed!
So that’s it for regular comps for the year for us and we are now packing for the Jack next weekend. Hopefully we come home with at least 1 of these again that would be spectacular !
I just need to get through catering a wedding and a baby shower this weekend plus a couple of soccer matches with the kids- a presentation at school and then driving there for 18 hours. I’ll sleep when I am dead. God bless the staff at Starbucks. They are keeping me upright with all the caffeine I am consuming.
We were in Monroe Michigan over the weekend. This was a first time KCBS contest at their fairgrounds. The town is beautiful. No matter what we will be putting this event back on our calender for next year.
We arrived and were immediately welcomed. Shown to our spot for the weekend we took in our surroundings. It was lovely. We have a beautiful level grass site with individual power and water hook-ups. There were really spotless bathrooms just a short walk away and SHOWERS! The judge’s tent wasn’t very far away either. Twenty five teams had gathered for this event. In addition there were lots of experienced judges.
There was a potluck arranged by the nice folks from Great Lakes BBQ Supply (an awesome store for BBQ shopping!!) had brought in a ranch kettle for all to use to cook a protein and we brought a deep dish cheesecake to share. Got to meet the AW Hell BBQ team – super nice people although I did pass on their bucket of jello shots. Got to visit with a lot of GLBBQA folks we don’t see often enough.
It was one of the quietest competitions I have ever been to. At about 10:30/11pm you could hear the crickets chirping. It seemed like everyone was quietly enjoying the star filled night.
All of our meats went on with no problems. Everything looked good in fact. One small problem I encountered was the battery in my thermapen went and I had to borrow another from a friend (thanks Scott!). Other than that is was smooth sailing for the entire night and into the morning.
In the morning the chicken went on with no problems as did the ribs. They looked great. Then came turn in time. Looked at the clock and something was wrong. Went outside the trailer and the other clock was showing a different time. Looked at my blackberry it showed another time. I had no idea what time it really was. Minutes and seconds count in competition BBQ.
To make a long painful story short my chicken turn in was 20 seconds late. Disqualified in Chicken. DAL. DQ whatever you call it – it sucked worse than anything I have ever experienced at a comp. Disgust, disappointment, embarrassment, anger, frustration and a whole lot of other emotions went through me at that moment.
My jaw dropped and I felt horrible for Vlad as he passed me the box back. He was mortified as was I. I just sat in the trailer and just looked at the turn in box of chicken – it seemed to be taunting me. How did this happen? Are you kidding me? It’s my fault the box should have gone in sooner. Last minute adjusting and cleaning had cost us a ton of KCBS points and a chance to win. I didn’t cry. I was more angry with myself than that. Wanting to hit or throw something – I threw the turn in box of chicken and all into the trash and cursed a few times. I took a picture of it to remind me never to let that happen again. My heart just sunk and I wanted to be anywhere but in that trailer at that moment. I wanted to crawl under a rock. All that chicken prep the box had looked delicious all that work for nothing. I didn’t come 5 1/2 hours for nothing.
Told Vlad to give me some space (smart man he went outside and did some packing) and tried desperately to get my head together for ribs. I really had a hard time focusing on them. The box looked like shit when I turned it in and I was in the “I don’t give a crap frame of mind. “ Horrible thinking.
Between categories I was really impressed with Mike Lake. He came over to check on us to make sure we were alright. That showed a lot of class and I thank him and Theresa for their kind words and sympathies. I felt horrible for them as well. That cannot be easy for reps to do.
Gave myself a little pep talk – get over it I told myself. That’s all I could do at that time. I got refocused and turned in some really terrific pork and some yummy brisket. That was all I could do. I have never been so relieved that a competition was over.
I poured myself a very strong vodka tonic with lots of lime and reviewed the day. Took notes of things I need to do differently in the future. Then we just wanted to pack and leave as fast as possible.
A few friends popped by and offered their condolences. They knew just how low I was at that moment. We went to the awards to cheer for our friends but when our pork was called for 1st and our brisket was called for 3rd there was no joy in it for me. I was much happier listening to our friends getting called.
A highlight for us was watching Bavarian Smoke pitmaster Dick & Lori get their very 1st GC !! This was their bung for the Jack draw! Huge congratulations to them and to all those who got calls !
Reserve Grand Champion Smokin Aces CrapShoot BBQ, pitmaster Mark Rasmussen was a true class act after awards. As we were leaving we went to say good bye. He gave me a big hug and said we would have had the RGC or higher and that he back-doored it in. He said he knew it the second he saw the scores. I told him we would never know maybe the judges would not have liked our chicken ( I thought it would have scored at least a 165 or above). It was still nice of him to acknowledge our scores which were in the running. I appreciated those very kind words. Class act.
It took us forever to get home and it was a really quiet drive. Vlad and I were just bummed out. We both work very hard just like other teams out there. It just sucked.
So there it is in a nutshell the worst competition day of my life. It sucked and was a hard lesson to learn. I pray for each team on the circuit to never have to experience this. I sure as hell will do everything I can to never let it happen again.
In my attempt to utilize everything competition related out of my freezer I am trying to use up all those leftovers in yummy and creative ways. Last night I pulled out what I thought was 2 – 1lb packages of smoked chicken. What I ended up with was 1 lb of smoked chicken and 1 lb of pulled pork. I really need to label better. For the chicken it is going to be chicken pot pie a family favorite that I could make in my sleep. All of our kids like it so it makes it an easy go to weekday meal without having to face any dinnertime battles.
So off to the puter went trying to figure out what to make. I don’t eat my own pulled pork anymore if rarely. Just too much of it around to be at all appetizing to me. So I have to hide in something before i will eat it.
I came across a recipe for a Tamale pie and figured I would give it a go substituting pulled pork and a few other ingredients.
I started out with a base for both the chicken and the pulled pork.
- 1 red onion sliced
- 4 stalks of celery chopped
- 2 red peppers diced
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp evoo
- 2 tbsp butter
- salt & pepper to taste
I sauteed them until soft then divided into two bowls.
For the Tamale Pie I added to the base the 1lb pulled pork and …….
- 1/4 cup green salsa
- 1 roasted poblano skin removed & diced
- 2 jalapeños roasted skin removed & diced
- 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
- 1 cup homemade fire roasted tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup Napoleon Fire Roasted Garlic sauce
- 1/2 tsp ground piri piri
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
- salt & pepper to taste
All of this was brought to a nice warm temperature over medium high heat. Just enough to defrost the corn then set aside.
For the crusts.
- 1 3/4 cups cornmeal
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 cups grated old sharp cheddar
In a saucepan bring mix the water, cornmeal and salt together and simmer on medium high heat stirring constantly until the texture is thick and the consistency of oatmeal. Add butter, cheese and paprika and mix until butter and cheese are melted.
In a 9 x 12″ glass pan spread half of the cornmeal mixture on the bottom.
Then layer in the pulled pork mixture:
Top with the remaining cornmeal mixture plus more shredded sharp cheese.
Bake at 375 for 1 hour – 1hour 15 minutes.
Cool for at least 15-20 minutes then serve.
For the Chicken pot pie I follow the same recipe I have been using forever. From better homes and gardens their Deep Dish Pot pie recipe has been used by at least a couple of generations in our family. I make modifications every time I make it. I didn’t have any half & half in the fridge so I substituted milk, plus I used corn starch instead of flour for the thickener. Tonight I used store bought puff pastry for the crust. My freezer always has puff pastry in it. I believe it is one of those staples every household should have stocked.
Both meals are super easy family friendly food. We ate the chicken pot pie for dinner and the tamale pulled pork pie is for tomorrow. The chicken pot pie freezes really well and we always make 2 at a time.
The freezer emptying out program will continue throughout the winter Ill be sure to post more leftover competition meats recipes.
After reading Startin the Fire last night I decided this year I am going to try to eliminate as much prep as possible on Thursdays/Fridays before a competition.
I started with my brines. I have portioned them all for as many contests I believe we are going to be doing for the year. additionally I then portioned out my injections into baggies as well. I am too cheap to use a foodsaver for this. SO baggies it is.
I am going to try to work through and prep as many of these types of items as I can over the next couple of weeks in prep for the season.
Traveling to Memphis is a bit of an adventure for sure. However I have even more of an adventure on this trip as I am traveling with my Dad aka Mr. Happypants. Dad is letting me drive him to Memphis then he is carrying on to Florida. Don’t get me wrong my Dad is a great guy but he has some definite views on the world. Many of which I tend to disagree with. He was a cop for 25 years and after then a small business owner. My Dad talks in a certain way that’s well….. lets just say direct. Its either that or pretty much unnerving dead air silence from him. My brother and I often refer to Dad’s way of talking as the cop talk. Its the “let me ascertain the facts” type of lingo. We have reminded him of this over the years. He gives you this defiant look and we all sort of move on. It just always better to move on. Think Ray Romanos Dad – Frank on Everybody loves Raymond. That’s pretty much my Dad.
To my Dad food is just food. Its either good or bad with no gray. Ask my Dad what flavor profiles he is getting from something and he will look at you like an alien. Then he will tell you he thinks you are full of nonsense. He is a straight up salt & pepper, canned peas, cook it till its deader than cement kind of guy. Burgers, hot dogs, meatloaf and M&M meat shops kind of guy. NTTIAWWT Don’t mess around with him on that either. No, just don’t -I have tried on many occasions.
Plus don’t even try to get him to buy any other roast other than eye of the round cooked to a limp gray. (Dontcha know its good value look at how lean it is!!) He is also the same guy who tried to buy Walmart’s ready made “BBQ” ribs that you microwave in front of me. He couldn’t figure out why I was a little annoyed. So that’s pretty much my Dad in a narrow focused sort of way. He is also a really thoughtful out of the blue kind of guy. Last year knowing we needed a fridge for the competition trailer he offered to buy it for us as a very early Christmas gift. He is that kind of guy. Gruff on the outside not tolerant of anything, or anyone, and unfailingly thoughtful at the oddest and most unexpected of times. He also helped me paint some of my house and fix things.
Prior to getting in his truck to drive I got “the” lectures. I knew they were coming I was prepared. The don’t you dare go a km over the speed limit lecture. The you are not smoking in my truck lecture, the I am not eating at any where fancier that Cracker barrel lecture, the why do you need to buy anything at duty free lecture, the well what time are we getting there lecture, the I don’t want to stop anywhere lecture, the I don’t want to learn how to use a cell phone lecture, the don’t mess with my “golden oldies” radio tuning lecture, the can’t you turn that black butter (My blackberry) thing off lecture, the why do you need so many clothes when I can go away for 2 months and take only this minuscule bag lecture , the well I only need 1 pair of shoes why do you need 3 lecture, and so on and so on. Dad has become over the last couple of years since my Mom has passed on very, very stuck in his own ways of doing things. (Understatement of the year) Yup that’s my Dad. I love him.Wouldn’t want to trade him for any other Dad either.
So Mr. Happypants and I set of this morning at 5am. It was -15 in Barrie this morning. Damn. Cold. Loaded up with timmies we crossed through the great white North of Barrie Ontario and headed to the Detroit border. Stopping a couple of times for the inevitable potty breaks we talked about his trip to Florida and my trip to Memphis. My father is as obsessed about Florida as I am about BBQ. Explaining to my Dad about BBQ competitions is always complicated. He does not understand why I pay to go and stand sometimes in field full of mud praying that my meat will turn out well. Why I am paying the potty mouth guy (what Dad and my daughter call Myron Mixon) to take his class. When I inevitably come home from a competition he does not understand why I am beyond thrilled with a Fourth place like I was this past year in Louisa Virginia. He does not understand that beating Tuffy Stone, LeeAnn Whippen and others just once was a thrill for me like no other. That I did not need a GC to feel awesome. He just turns to me morosely and says better luck next time. Hopefully you will actually win. Yup thats my Dad.
We stopped for lunch at Cracker barrel. I always have the same meal there. Its always chicken fried steak. Always. I have this artery clogging meal once or twice a year and thats it. Dad tried it for the first time. (It took some convincing) I don’t think he liked it as he ate fries and biscuits and not much of it.
Along the way I got cut off by an idiot in one of those supped up Honda Civics that remind me of beetles on acid – and I cursed at him. Douche noodle. Yup thats what I called the little twit. (Please make sure to click the link to find out who came up with that most interesting of curses on January 30th its epic) Well let me tell you that lecture was one of the longest. The why don’t you talk more like a lady lecture was combined with the I know we did not raise you to speak like that lecture, which further rolled into the I don’t know whats wrong with you people which he made an even further lamented lecture into the I am sure your Mother would not be proud of you for speaking like that lecture. Trust. It was a long and benevolent (in my opinion) silence that I received after those lectures.
We set out for our final destination. Jungle Jims International Market for the day. I had heard about this most interesting of places from a friend of mine Cam. He has gone back twice. I now understand. This is like a playground for foodies. Truly it was. I could spend days in this place. For my Dad not so much. So we left but not before I managed to grab 7 bottles of wine and some snacks. Ok and also some spices and a few other things. As quick as I could I got out. I didn’t like to keep Mr. Happypants waiting. We will be off again early in the AM. We will be staying downtown in Memphis tomorrow night. I will probably need to crack open one or more of those bottles of wine. I am 100% sure I will get a lecture about that