Every Tuesday you can listen in on the BBQ Central Radio show part of the BCRN (BBQ Central Radio Network) . This weeks episode is a round table discussion with three of the top Chicken Cooks on the KCBS circuit:
Kelly Wertz – 4 Legs Up BBQ, previous winner of the Jack Daniels Invitational and in 2009 ranked #4 overall in Chicken and #6 Overall on the KCBS TOY Listings.
Joe Amore – Smokey Mountain Smokers, ranked #5 overall in Chicken and # 19 overall in the KCBS TOY listings. They also manufacture one of my favorite products disposable cutting boards.
Troy Black - Learn2Q.com, ranked #7 overall in Chicken and #15 overall in the KCBS TOY Listings. He also has a brand new DVD out Real BBQ Know How
Also tonight on the BBQ Central Show Mike Lake President of KCBS will be on at approx 10:05pm EST on the after dark segment of the show
It should be a great show! Make sure you tune in tonight at 9pm EST.
As I am prepping for the 2010 season to begin I have to start with where we really needed to improve from 2009. For the last years season I was really happy with our pork. Everything else needs a lot more work. Especially brisket. I have struggled with brisket. Brisket is my challenge above all challenges. Overall for the year we came in 241 out of 4716 on the Pickled Pig Rankings. I am proud and challenged by those results. Just shy of being in the top 5% overall we came in:
- 173 out of 4716 Pork
- 267 out of 4716 Chicken
- 331 out of 4716 Ribs
- 580 out of 4716 Brisket
For these rankings we had 6 competitions that were included:
We did however compete in additional competitions for the 2009 as well that were not included in those rankings:
Canada Southern BBQ Championships
1st — Pork; 2nd — Ribs; 3rd — Brisket; 3rd —Chicken 1st—Anything But
“Smoke on the Water Barbecue Competition Saskatchewan”
Reserve Grand Champion
1st — Pork; 2nd — Ribs; 4th — Brisket; 4th—Chicken 1st—Anything But
Canadian Pork BBQ Championships
Reserve Grand Champion
2nd—Chicken; 2nd — Pork; 4th — Brisket; 4th — Ribs
Invitational BBQ Cook-off
7th — Pork Shoulder; 6th — Chicken;
National BBQ Festival “Best of the Best”
Open BBQ Cook-off
9th — Ribs
1st — Brisket; 3rd — Ribs
3rd—Chicken; 3rd — Pork; 4th — Ribs; 6th — Brisket
Overall we made improvements to our overall BBQ in my opinion. I am hoping to be able to attend more competitions this year however my schedule may have some interesting diversions this year. I can’t share them yet but I am really excited for 2010 overall. I have a lot of practice and work to do. LOL
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.
For the next 4 weeks Ill be revisiting all of my competition notes, procedures and meat prep. Looking forward to the Little Rock competition I really want to just do better. Last year we came in 47 out of 129 teams. We got a 19th in chicken, 43rd in ribs, 55th in pork and a dismal 84th in brisket.
This year we are driving with all of our equipment to this comp. All 18 hours. Last year I used borrowed equipment that I had never used before and it really showed. My goal this year is to be in the top 20% or higher. I am going through my bx pictures form last year and the notes I made. I can really see lots of room for improvement.
Hi all just passing this on. I personally have signed it already.
To: Kansas City BBQ Association
We, the undersigned KCBS members, formally petition the KCBS to allow members to have access to all non-executive session meetings via electronic media, including, but not limited to, pod-casts, web-casts and streaming audio. This is not to disparage the KCBS or any member of the Board of Directors, but to provide us, as members the fullest information on rules, standards and the agenda of the Board to make us more active participants and have a stronger and more informed participation in all KCBS related business and the promotion of BBQ throughout the world.
Well I recently had the opportunity to try Kosmo’s Q Chicken soak. I thought it would be best to do a simple test to see if the Chicken Soak made a substantial difference vs. regular brining. I consistently have been using a brine for turkey or chicken at home and also in competition.
I used 10 lbs of chicken pieces for each test. 10lbs for each application for a total of 20 pounds chicken pieces.
These two plates were for the Kosmo’s test. It was a mixture of chicken thighs legs and wings some with skin and some without.
The ingredients listed on the package are:
Salt, Brown Sugar, Worcestershire Powder, Dextrose, Hydrolyzed Soy & Corn Protein, Citric acid, Caramel Color, Natural Flavor
The package of chicken soak weighed 8.6 oz. Thats .6 oz. more than the listed weight.
In one bucket I used the Kosmo’s Q Chicken Soak 1/2 lb sample mix cost – $4.95 plus shipping- I mixed it according to the directions on the package (doubled for 10 lbs) – Mix 3/4 cup with 64oz (1/2) gallon of liquid. For this test I used plain old tap water for Kosmo’s and the standard brine.
* this was the color of the Kosmos at 5lbs then I added the remaining chicken and soak mix. It mixes up very easily as the particles are very small.
My Standard Brine
In the second bucket I mixed a standard brine I make for Chicken Brown Sugar, Kosher Salt, Peppercorns and All spice berries – cost $2.25 approx for enough brine for 10lbs chicken.
- Both sets of chicken were left in their mixtures for the recommended 4 hours.
- They were both rinsed thoroughly afterwards with tap water.
- They were both then rubbed with my own personal chicken rub.
**The only difference I noticed on the chicken when they came out of the brine was that the Kosmo’s chicken had some very fine red particles that adhered to the chicken. I could not rinse it off. I also could not get a clear picture of it. They were very tiny.
For this test I used my Traeger Texas Style with hickory pellets. The grill was set at 300F. All of the chicken parts were taken to 165F.
All of the pieces looked great. Nice color on both. They were glazed with my own competition sauce.
After the chicken came off I rested it on a plate uncovered for 10 minutes.
Here are two pieces the one on the right is from Kosmo’s and the one on the left is my own standard brine.
Now for the all important taste/tenderness test picture:
Picture of the chicken with standard brine (juices on the plate very moist and tender):
Picture of Kosmo’s Q Chicken(juices on the plate very moist and tender):
Even after an additional 15 minutes both chicken pieces were still tender and moist.
Kosmo’s Q chicken soak works. So does regular brining.
I could not find any discernible difference between the two other than cost and convenience. There was no taste difference whatsoever. Nothing stood out. They were both tender and moist.
Personally I’ll be sticking with my own brine.
While in Memphis I had the distinct pleasure to finally have some AmberQue. What is AmberQue?? Well I think it will be the next big sauce on the market. I was happy that my friend Joe McManus of Joey Mac’s Smoke Stax came out with it. Joey’s team won the American Royal 2008 Invitational BBQ Competition. I think a lot of people are looking for a different flavor other that the traditional tomato based sauces. I really wish mustard sauces were more popular on the competition circuit. I would be using this one in a heartbeat straight out of the bottle.
It has a great blend of tangy sweet and spice. There were a few of us that tried this sauce and all of us thought it was excellent. We tried it on sausage, pulled pork, brisket and pork loin. It rocked on everything. I can’t wait to try it on ribs next. So this is my plug for it. This is not a paid endorsement at all. I just really really liked it a LOT. If you can get your hands on it you should. I mean seriously get to Hawgeyes and get some. you will not be disappointed at all.
I have had the Memphis BBQ experience I was looking for. The NBBQA conference is done for another year but those memories will certainly last a long time. In 4 days I ate lived and breathed BBQ with a few hundred other enthusiasts. However there was a core group of us again that went out on our own to seek out those unique Q & food experiences that are best experienced within a smaller group of friends.
Our group Dave from Sweet baby Rays, Rays Nephew Duce Raymond , Ron Nunes BBQ Organizer, Kelly & Roni from 4 Legs Up, Chris Jones from Colins Creek Barbecue, Joey McManus from Joey Mac’s Smoke Stax, Tim Clendenning from Windy City Smokers, Woody Steve Wasson & Brenda Grubb from Woody’s Smoke Shack all set out to experience some authentic Memphis Q and food. I felt once again blessed to be with such great people.
We set out to a place I have been waiting to eat at since I read about it in Peace Love & BBQ – Cozy Corner. It’s in a less savoury part of Memphis where the windows of derelict buildings are smashed out everywhere, a bit of desperation has set itself on the people and the poverty is overwhelming. However when you pull up to this battered restaurant- you are greeted with nothing but pure Love & Sunshine by the owner Desiree. This woman is a true light within this downtrodden area. She puts her beliefs in God on Display throughout the restaurant from the bibles next to the register and the menu board which proclaims they would not accept any tips and thanks God.
When I spoke with her she was warm and lovely readily giving anyone and everyone that walked through the doors a hug a word of encouragement and true sincere expressions of care and concern. The restaurant itself was a relic in itself. The stained blue Berber carpet, missing ceiling tiles and flimsy wall panelling really does the place no justice. However you don’t need decor to have great BBQ. I have seen this time and time again. Cozy Corner is one of those places.
We decided as we usually have in the past to get one of everything on the menu. This is really easy when you are traveling with a pack of 11. When we received the tray I was shocked to see the huge amounts of sauce on the Cornish hen, the ribs and the pork in addition to the smoked bologna sandwich. I am not a big fan of sauce and this looked as coated as an oil slick.
Everything at this place was wonderful. The hen was tender sweet tangy and spicy- I savoured the tiny little drum stick I had then the breast meat – intensely flavoured and spicier than the rest. My rib was perfectly cooked coming off the bone with just an easy tug of teeth once again surprisingly not overwhelmed by the sauce. The bologna cut into almost an inch thick slab was a throwback to my childhood. It was layered with sauce and coleslaw on a typical hamburger bun. It was awesome. The coleslaw and sauce really added to the overall flavour of the bologna sandwich. I could imagine coming here with my children just for that Sammie alone.
Everyone that serves you or interacts with you in this iconic place-smiles. They thank you profusely. It is a wonderful experience to feel appreciated. They get it here. You can certainly understand why they are still there. It is perfect with all of its “imperfections” Most of all what makes it perfect is the combination of Desiree’s continuance of this wonderful BBQ joint and the warm fuzzy feeling you leave with it.
We stopped at Rendezvous in the downtown core as well. It’s down an alley way near the Peabody in the same location it has been in for -well forever it seems. In 1948, Charlie Vergos cleaned out a basement below his diner, discovered a coal chute, and started a legend. Charlie’s kids run things now, and their kids are coming along, and their kids will follow.
The alley is full of dumpsters, trash and the smell of charcoal. Seedy would be one way to describe it. However as you stand there you see people from all walks of life heading into Rendezvous: Ladies dressed to the nines with their Manolo Blahnik boots and Louis Vuitton purses, men in their sharp Ralph Lauren suits and Brooks Brothers, everyday people in their Nikes and hoodies attire all carefully treading around the dumpsters to get to this place. Not only people walking in but there is a constant flurry of vehicles driving up and dropping people off.
Now imagine yourself walking into an antique store jumbled full of treasures and timeless classics, full glass showcases containing lots of kitschy fun stuff. The floor is mottled and cracked there are people everywhere sitting at tables eating BBQ. Then take a walk to one of their antiquated back rooms full of signs and pictures from all over the world and you know you have arrived at Rendezvous.
Our party once again tried everything we could possibly partake in on the menu while still allowing us to remain upright without going into a protein coma. We ordered a sample platter of all of their meats plus a couple of sides. However before I go into more detail on this I will have to tell you about my most favorite part about Rendezvous and that would be our server. To call him a server seems a bit of a disservice he is a Legend here at Rendezvous himself. Big Jack Dyson is a flurry of Southern comebacks and full on court press hospitality. He will have you laughing and feeling comfy in an instant. He has been at Rendezvous since 1969. They don’t have a lot of staff turnover issues at Rendezvous.
Big Jack brought us out some of their gumbo to try on the house. It was an interesting medley of flavours for sure. He also brought us some lamb ribs that were gamier than most I have tried. These were not what I was used to but it was just fine. The food overall at Rendezvous is not something I would go back for to be honest. I didn’t like their ribs or the pulled pork at all. I was really looking forward to some dry ribs but these were not it. They were just not my thing. I don’t think many in our party liked them at all. I don’t think you go to Rendezvous for the food. You go for the experience. I would go again for the experience. It should not be missed. The ambiance and the cold beer were a great combo. However next time I think I would just stick with their ham & cheese plate.
Pig on Beale-Pork with an Attitude
From their website:
With the 1950s decor of checkerboard floors, formica tables and vintage movie posters mixes with live rockabilly, honky tonk or bluegrass music, a down-home happenin’ hoopla should come as no surprise. The Pig on Beale’s jukebox could easily be the best on Beale Street, with an eclectic mix of Memphis
music like the older Furry Lewis and Elvis to the Delta Blues of the Eric Hughes Band. The bar hosts live Blues and Americana music Thursday through Sunday from area Americana bands.
What they don’t tell you on their homepage (they do in the about section though) is that their food rocks. I mean rocks out like being at the best concert of your life with the love of your life.. For me sharing their food with some incredibly dear BBQ people was an event I will cherish.
The food is top notch. Once again I have found competition quality BBQ at a restaurant. There are only 3 BBQ joints (Pig on Beale, Bub-Ba-Q, Q Restaurant) I have been to that I would be happy to serve their food in a turn in box and be proud to call it my own. From the creaminess of their potato salad to the wickedly good onion rings to the hickory kissed ribs and pulled pork perfection, great wings and the tender chicken the Beale Street BBQ super feast is awesome. Even that description doesn’t seem good enough to me.
What impressed me even more is that we were there during the down times. Not even close to lunch or dinner but right in between. Having top quality food at an off time is impressive. It was quiet when we were there with only 1 or 2 other patrons. They have most obviously taken great care to ensure what they serve is their very best at all times. Our server was great too. Very polite to all of us making sure we were well attended to.
Later on at the convention I ran into John the owner. Now John stands heads above me and he is a solid young man. Think the Stone Cold Steve Austin version of BBQ and you have a good picture of what he looks like. John actually owns both Pig on Beale and natural Born Grillers. They compete as well. Actually they win a LOT too with many of their impressive trophies in the windows of Pig On Beale. Their website lists their many competition accolades. I was sorry we didn’t have the time to make it out to their Southaven location.
My advice to anyone would be that going to Memphis and not eating BBQ at Pig on Beale would be akin to missing your first Anniversary, your kids birth or your own wedding – it’s just something that should never ever be missed. It was that good.
Gus’s Fried Chicken
Now off to another joint we went just down a few blocks and around a corner. This was the second time in three days that I had eaten there. That should pretty much tell you something right there. I had extolled the virtues of Gus’s fried chicken to our group and we all decided to give it a go.
We had the deep fried pickled fried green tomatoes and a whole lotta chicken and fries. Once again it did not disappoint. Lip smacking finger licking can I get another piece even if I have just eaten at 3 other BBQQ joints chicken kind of food. I think to tell an outstanding place from a good one it is just this when you are so stuffed you can barely move but all you want to do is eat more you know you are in a place of greatness. I think that applies to both BBQ and chicken.
Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ
On the day I was leaving my friends Chris Jones and Tim Clendenning all headed to the airport together. As we wandered around waiting for our flight we decided to have breakfast. Well of course that would mean having more BBQ. You just can’t ever get enough. So we headed to Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que. This was about 830am.
Gotta love Memphis where you can get BBQ at any time of the day or night. We ordered up BBQ Nachos, Pulled pork and BBQ Bologna. It was all great. Just really good decent BBQ that had good flavour, good texture, and nice sauce. The BBQ Bologna had a great char on it as well that was yummy.
The Pulled Pork Sammie had to have at least a ½ lb of pork on it. Extremely generous. We did also get the BBQ spaghetti I will say this it’s not my thing. Just no. Just not going to ever order BBQ spaghetti again. Overall the food was really good. We even got to talk with Harold Neely. He wanted to pick up our check but Chris had already paid. Good people to talk with for sure. If you are in the Memphis airport stop by and eat. You will not be disappointed.
Well I could go on and tell you some really juicy stories about Myron ”Damn” Mixon, or some of the other folks fables and tall tales or even my own new associations with some fine folks but I think I will take a lot of those stores and keep them to myself. While in Memphis I walked by a poster and it said this: What happens in Vegas started in Memphis. I tend to agree with this sentiment. For the days I was there I was educated, libated and satiated with BBQ and food. We will leave it at that.
However as I end this rather long winded (and really if you have read the blog at any time you will know I tend to be a wee bit long winded) I have to tell you a story about our trip to Gus’s and this goes towards the kindness and the type of people I am real proud to associate with. As we were walking in Memphis within our tight knit little group a homeless man approached my friends and asked for money. He ended up being invited to eat with us. None of us would ever like to see anyone go hungry. None of us would have wanted for this man to go without something to eat. So we had our meal with this man who was quite articulate and certainly added a deeper meaning to our meal. That is the breaking of bread with your fellow man is always a good thing. That we should always look out for each other. That we should take care of each other. That food whether it be BBQ in Memphis a hot dog in New York or even poutine in Toronto has the capacity to bring us all together. That is my Memphis story.
** A note of thanks to Kelly & Roni Wertz from 4 Legs up BBQ for some of the excellent pictures of the Memphis adventure.