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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Route 66 BBQ contest recap part 2

Well folks: yesterday I told you about my experience at the Route 66 BBQ contest and how my cook went. So today I'll tell you about some of the other pit masters that were there. First I'll talk about John Craig with Triple F Farms. John and his team was next to me and I have to tell you about his smokers. John takes 4 drawer file cabinets and turns them into smokers. He uses the bottom drawer for air and to catch ash, the second drawer is where he puts his charcoal and smoking wood. The next 2 drawers is for the meat. Top drawer will be the cooler of the two. These take some fire watching but produced some very good BBQ.

Next on the other side was Bob and Kevin from G&H Smokers. These guys had only done backyard contest before and for some reason they thought I was some sort of a expert and looked to me for advice. I had no problem telling them what I knew but I kept telling them this is my first sanction contest also, so don't rely to much on what I say. Nice guys and gave me breakfast Saturday morning. I was glad when they got a call in chicken, so guess my advice didn't hurt them too much.

Next team I have to tell you about is Bill Grenko of Lock Stocked and 2 Smokin Barrels. Bill is the guy I have been talking to for advice. The reason I talk to Bill is because in his last two contest he has won  2 Grand Champions.
That's back to back Grand Championships.  I kind of think if I want to get better I should be asking someone that has a proven  winning record. Bill and his wife Anne are very nice and for whatever reason Bill is very free with giving me advice. Just Talking to him for a few minutes  has made me a better pit master.

Next but certainly not last is Alan Bowman with Canadian Bakin BBQ. I met Al from my BBQ buddy Arthur of Major League Grilling. Alan and his wife Karen came to this contest with their 2 kids Chaser who is 3 and his sister Brie who is 5.  Chaser is his nick name but it fits. He doesn't know a stranger and is on the go  all the time. Unlike his sister who was just a quiet shy little girl. What makes this teams story so special is they came to the contest in a mini van stocked with stuff for the kids, cooler full of supplies leaving just enough room for ONE PIT!! That's right Al cooked all 4 meats and Karen cooked the dessert using one pit. It was a 18.5 inch Weber Smokey Mountain. Just by comparison I used 3 pits.

Now I have seen pictures of Al's food and there was no doubt in my mind that he could cook, but watching him this past weekend puts me in awe. Not only did he cook all this on one pit,but he's got the kids helping, they are helping season the meat and are very much part of the team. Not only is Al a outstanding Pit Master but Karen and Al may be better parents. Now the payoff for all this is not only did they have a great family weekend cooking together. Canadian Bakin won Grand Champion!!! They did all this on one 18.5 " pit with 2 small kids in tow and out cooked every other Pit Master there, some with thousand of dollars invested in pits. Just show's you it's not necessary to spend a ton of money on pits to cook great BBQ.

By the way Lock Stock and 2 Smokin Barrels  finished in second as the Reserved Grand Champion. The man can cook also.

So that's the kind of people you will meet at a BBQ contest. So if you ever thought you couldn't enter a contest because you don't have a big enough pit or because you got kids. You ought to try it some time. You will meet some great folks and a lot of them will be glad to help you and offer advice if you ask.

But I do have to warn you. It is habit forming.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Route 66 BBQ contest recap

Well folks, it's been 2 days and the Route 66 BBQ contest is history, and the results are in the books. This was the first time that I did a sanctioned 2 day contest. What a experience, when Saturday afternoon came around I was sure I would never do another one. My brother in-law got called into work and I had to do this  contest by myself. The only thing I can say is I was one tired old man, and was ready to turn competition BBQ over to the younger pit masters. Thankfully the weather wasn't too hot and I had a shade tree keeping my site out of the sun. It was a lifesaver. Got to the contest site at 9:30 Friday morning and was fresh and ready to take on the world. I had the truck loaded Thursday and all I had to do before leaving was to load the coolers; so in the morning I'm thinking this isn't going to be a problem. Started to set up the site and talk to the teams as they arrived and of course talk a little smack to the guys I've competed against before. It's all going as planned.

Friday some of us got together for a pot luck. I made my Rattlesnake Tails and we had Jambalaya, bacon wrapped little smokie's and cheese sausage poppers. Everything was delicious and had a good time drinking a couple of beers and talking a little more smack. But Dessert turn in was at 7:30 and everyone went to their site and started to get ready for the first turn in of the contest. I did a Peach and Cherry Cobbler real easy and not to much work to prepare. Came out on time and turned in. The result to be announced Saturday afternoon at the awards.

Now time to get the big meats on the pits, that being Beef Brisket and Pork Butts. I had 2 pork butts and one Certified Angus Brisket. Got both the ugly drums fired up with charcoal and Mojobricks cherry and hickory and up to temp. Got the meat seasoned and started to smoke these two entrees. Now it starts to hit me, I'm not fresh any more. I'm hot and tired. A shower and a bed would look good right now. Well there's no shower and all I got is the front seat of the truck,and a zero gravity lounge chair. The drums aren't settling in on a temp and I have to keep adjusting the air intake. At about 1:30 AM I can finally lay down for a couple hours of sleep.

4:30 AM back up to check the drums. The drum with my brisket had dropped to 200 degrees. I had to get it back up to 250 degrees and now. I probed the brisket and it still needed more time it hadn't gotten by the stall yet but I have plenty of time. All is going as planned so I sat down and relaxed until 6:30, don't feel bad for only having 3 hours of sleep and the weather was nice and cool.

In the morning Bob and Kevin with K& D smokers fixed eggs and sausage sandwich's and was nice enough to share. This is a piece of cake who needs a brother in-law I can do this.

8 AM start to get chicken prepped, it's the first turn in of the day at 12 noon. As some of you know "I HATE CHICKEN" it is the toughest category for me and it takes a lot of prep and work and in the early morning still. I yelled so everyone could hear "I HATE CHICKEN"! So I get the kettle fired up and started to prep ribs for the 12:30 turn in. The brisket and butts are ready to be pulled and wrapped to go in the cooler and rest. I separated  the point from the flat of the brisket to make burnt ends. Everything looking good a little tired but still going strong.

PANIC!!!  I go to turn the chicken and the skin is a mess. This is why "I HATE CHICKEN", The skin the judges like bite though skin and I don't even have 6 pieces to turn in that has any skin. I am so screwed!! Where is my brother in- law. I need someone to keep me calm and get my focus but it's just me cussing up a blue streak in my head but not wanting anyone to see my panic. I try to remain calm on the outside. Thinking what am I going to do, I decide to just turn in skinless chicken. I get a aluminum pan throw the thighs in with some Draper's Smokin sauce and hope for the best.

11:30 AM time to get ready for chicken turn in. I check the thighs they really look good I'm brushing them to even out the sauce and I got some nice looking chicken. I put 9 pieces of my skinless chicken in the box and hope for the best.

After turning in the chicken box I have to get the ribs ready; no time to think just go to auto pilot and get the box ready. The ribs look great but because of the chicken screw up I didn't watch my time line like I should have. They needed more time in the foil to get tender.Look great but a little too tough. Into the box, spritz with some apple juice to make them shine and off to turn in to the judges. Two categories down two to go.

Pork Butt is next and sad to say that after chicken and ribs I lose my focus and build a box that doesn't look too great. I didn't know it at the time, this is where the second set of eyes can save me from a mistake. After building the box and turn in to the judges it time for the last category Beef Brisket.

I start to slice the brisket and I'm liking what I see. It'sgot a nice smoke ring from the Mojobricks. I taste it and I think, OH YEAH!! I got this. Built my box with 6 slices and fill in the front with burnt ends. The burnt ends are like butter. I'm starting to count the money. Who needs help, I'm "THE MAN, THE GRILL, THE MAGIC". I turn in what I believe is the best brisket every turned in at a BBQ contest. Time for a beer.

Get back to the site, open my first beer of the day and sit down and reflect on the day. Then it hits me I'm hot, I'm tired and I've got to load everything back into the truck.Where the Hell is my Brother in- law. He should have called in sick. Start loading the truck and the guys with Triple F Farms and K&D Smokers feel sorry for a old man and help me out loading the truck. This is what I like about BBQ contests everyone is really very nice and will help any way they can. Only way to say it is they are just good people.

Time for awards. Dessert is the first call, I get second place. This is a good start for the day. Next is chicken, Damn "I HATE CHICKEN" start calling names of the top 10 call all the way up to 3rd and I'm thinking skinless chicken killed me. But wait, SECOND PLACE in chicken is "THE MAN, THE GRILL, THE MAGIC"! I got second place, a trophy and a check. I'm  beside myself ,can't believe what just happened. Happy Happy. Next is ribs I know these were tough, still got a 9th then pork butt 10th (I told you the box sucked). Now the Brisket calling top 10 and in 9th place is my brisket. I'm a little stunned but still very happy I got a second place in chicken and dessert. Overall a good showing for a one man show.

So after some reflection. I'm sure I'll do another 2 day contest, but just not by myself.





Friday, June 15, 2012

The Texas Crutch

Well folks, sorry I've been a little lax about posting on the blog. I have been a little busy and really couldn't think of anything to write about. I have a contest next weekend and have started to get my game plan in place. This will be my first time cooking all four meats and  I am a little worried about getting everything done and meeting the turn in times. This is where the Texas crutch comes into play and it allows you speed up the cook of your bigger cuts of meat and can get ribs tender when you need to speed up the cook.

I know, you want to know what the hell I'm talking about and what is this Texas crutch and where do you get one. Chance's are you already have it in your kitchen, it's aluminum foil. That's right, the way to speed up the cook and get a brisket or pork butt done when time is getting short, is to wrap the meat tightly with aluminum foil with a little liquid  and return it to the fire. The liquid  will help steam the meat to tenderize and get the meat up to temp. faster.

This also work with ribs. About a 1/2 hour wrapped  in foil will get the ribs to pull back from the bone and really gets them tender. In a contest you have to be careful not  leave them in the foil too long, because left too long and they will be falling off the bone. At home everyone will love them but at a contest falling off the bone ribs will kill your scores.

Now why is it called the Texas crutch, I really don't know. I would guess it came about because some pit master in Texas was having trouble getting his brisket tender and was running out of time before turn in, and out of ideas, tried wrapping his brisket with some some aluminum foil and some beef broth. It worked  and that became the Texas crutch that many  pit masters use today.

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Calling All BBQ Nerds"

Well folks, today I'm giving a shout out to all the BBQ nerds out there. You know who you are. You watch BBQ shows on cable network. You know who Myron Mixon and Johnny Trigg are,you follow the BBQ Brethren forum  and some other sites on the internet.You stop in the BBQ section at any store that carries any BBQ equipment. You have more than 2 pits and are looking at another one right now, but aren't sure if the wife will approve of another pit on the patio or the deck. You also have a drawer full of rubs and spices, 3 or 4 different sauces, and a few you haven't had a chance to try yet.

Do you see yourself, I know I've just described myself. The way I explain my passion for BBQ is to compare it to fishing or golf. I know guys that have a garage full of golf clubs and gadgets, or guys that have 3 or more tackle boxes full of lures and 6 to 10 rods and reels. That's not counting the boat or the green fees. The best part of my passion is I get to share some good eating with family and friends. The wife is on board because she's doesn't have to cook and what I'm cooking is pretty damn good.

Now where the nerd part comes into play is competition BBQ. I've got to be honest, I can spend 2 to 3 hours on the internet reading forums looking for a trick that will make my competition BBQ better. Just one trick that will get me a call or get me a little closer to a Grand Championship. OH Yeah!!! I'm a BBQ Nerd. If you are to, I urge you to embrace it. It's not a bad thing and if you have trick or a recipe that will help me please pass it along.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Exciting News

Well folks: today I'll pass on some exciting news about what I've been doing. It should be pretty clear to everyone by now that BBQ has become a passion with me. With me cooking contest and writing this blog and those that follow me on facebook know I always post what I'm cooking each night for dinner. I have become the distributor for MOJO smoking bricks and have introduced them into the St Louis Market, with some success.

Well I'm happy to say I am now representing Drapers Smokin Sauce and their line of rubs. Drapers is a small sauce company in Kentucky  that has a 3 generation history in BBQ. Their smokin sauce and AP Rub are made to work together and are great in combination on pork, chicken and beef.  Shane Draper  the owner has now added MOO'd Enhancer to his line up. MOO'd Enhancer is made to bring your beef BBQ up to the next level.

 Up until now the only way you were able to purchase this product was from their web site and you still can. But my goal is to get this product on store shelves in the St Louis area so everyone in St Louis can enjoy this superior product. Towards that goal I'm am very happy to say starting next week Draper's fine products will be available at St Louis Home Fires located at 15053 Manchester Rd. Ballwin Mo.

So if you want to learn more about Drapers and a little history about how this company came about go to www.drapersbbq.com  while you are there tell Shane I told you about him and his products. Then next week stop by St Louis Home Fires and try some of  his product. Let me know what you think. Of course while your BBQing don't forget to use MOJO Bricks for that added smoke flavor.

As more stores start to stock this product I'll be telling you where it is being sold.