Well folks: today I'll talk about my effort at the Muddy Watters BBQ contest this past Saturday. I'll start by saying there were some very good teams there to compete against and overall I wasn't disappointed in my overall finish. That being said there are things I learned and I now know I still have work to do, if I want to be a Grand Champion.
The toughest part of this contest was the heat, Saturday the heat got up to the 90's and we were set up on black top. By the end of the day I was worn out and my legs and feet were screaming at me. Thankfully I had my brother in law Greg as my team mate to help load back up, he was a real life saver. Speaking of Greg he has really become a great team mate. Greg has been with me in enough contest now to know what I do and he is great at watching pit temps, and keeping me on my time line. There are teams that are a one man show, I've done one contest by myself, but when Greg is with me I'm a better Pit Master, can't say enough how much I appreciate him helping me in this endeavor of competition BBQ.
I started to prepare for this contest on Thursday buying my meat and making up my time lines. This contest was a one day affair, with the first turn in at 4PM. That first entry was Ribs, to be followed by Chicken at 4:30 and then beef turn in at 5PM. So Thursday evening I started to trim by meat, That means turning my spare ribs into St Louis Style Ribs and pulling the membrane. Next was my beef, for this contest you could do anything beef. Normally a contest is beef Brisket but I decided to do beef short ribs. When these are done right they make a outstanding presentation. The beef pulls back from the bone and you end up with what looks like a beef popcicle. Last I trimmed my chicken, I did chicken thighs and competition chicken is a SOB of a category. It is without a doubt the one category almost every competitive Pit Master hates. Lets just say "I HATE CHICKEN"
Friday afternoon was spent loading up the truck with the pits and everything I need to cook a contest. I have a check list that I use when loading and its a life saver. Without it I would forget something and finding out I forgot my sauce is not what I ever want to do. I have to have my check list, its as important as my pits. Called Greg and told him to be at the house at 7:15 to load the coolers and head out.
(Just a side note even with the check list I still forgot to take a camera. So sorry no pictures.)
Saturday my feet hit the floor at 6AM and I'm excited to get started. Greg shows up right on time we load up the coolers and head out. Arrive at the contest site at 8AM and start setting up. Got the meat inspected this is to insure that we haven't marinated or seasoned the meat at home. Trimming is alright but everything else has to be done at the contest site. Got the okay from the meat inspector and fired up the pits. Next started to set up the site. This is a fun time, get to see some teams we've competed against at other contest and meet some new teams. Competitive BBQ is pretty relaxed even though everyone wants to win, everyone is there if you need a hand setting up. That's what I really like about competing in BBQ the people are GREAT!!
My Beef Short Ribs are going to take the most time so I start by seasoning them and getting the UGLY DRUM up to Temp. and on the pit they go. Followed by the Pork Spare Ribs. Then the Hated Chicken. This is the time to watch the the pits and maintain temps. and follow your time line for turning and spritzing and seasoning each entry. Also a great time to catch back up with the teams you haven't seen in a while.
Now it's 3PM and first turn in is in a hour, Crunch Time. ribs are first so making adjustment making sure they are done but not overdone. I smoked 3 slabs glad I did, one slab was overdone. Falling off the bone. Delicious but not what you want at a contest. The other 2 slabs were spot on sauced and made my turn in box. At 3:57 PM sent Greg with the Rib Box to the turn in table one down. Now to Chicken. I'm happy with the looks of my chicken had Greg taste one of thighs and said the were good. So start to build my box, you need 6 pieces in a box because there are 6 judges, but I've been told a full box scores better, so I had room for 9 thighs and that's how many I put into the box. I'm happy with the box Greg said they tasted good, so at 4:26 off Greg goes to turn in the Hated Chicken. Now the beef. I'm so happy with these they look great, probed tender and I couldn't be happier. Win or lose I'm happy with the product I'm putting into the box. So at 4:55 sent Greg with the last turn in box.
Nothing else to do but start to load up to go home and wait for awards. This is when the heat really got me, I didn't want a beer, I wanted water and lots of it and I could use a nice shower. After loading up and drinking a lot of water we went in to hear how we did. The first call are for Ribs they are calling out the top 10. At 5th place I hear " The Man, The Grill, The Magic" not bad in this contest with these teams 5th is not bad. Next is CHICKEN!! again calling the top 10, I didn't hear my name I finished out of the top 10 and was afraid I finished Dead Ass Last, Come to find out I was 11th, I still HATE CHICKEN. Now to Beef again top 10 called and I finished 5th in Beef. Not bad was hoping for better but not bad. Then called out the overall finish and again I get 5th overall even with my chicken failure.
So overall not a bad day for "The Man, The Grill, The Magic." Still have to learn how to do competition Chicken. Actually my chicken is very tasty, just not what the judges are looking for, I'll keep trying.
Next contest is in June, The Route 66 BBQ Challenge at the Meramec Community Fair. Can't wait.