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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.