After missing out of money in ribs, during the past couple of competitions, by a mere couple of points, I decided to tweek a few things. When I say tweek I really mean redo my flavor profile and my presentation. Presentation should be the easiest to correct, and seeing how the categories aren’t weighted, it should be the easiest area to make up the shortfall that we were having. We tried a different box prep at home and thought it was pretty decent and added a ‘POP’ to the picture. Flavor would take a bit more of an effort. After running a few test cooks with some new rubs and sauces, I felt we had something worth taking to competitions.
The days leading up to the HOOAH Deer Hunt for Heroes BBQ Cook-off I followed my routines, mix sauces on a certain day, wash the truck on a certain day and get a haircut on a certain day. Yeah I am a bit OCD about routines. The only thing that wasn’t the same routine was how I felt the night before. Typically I go through a bit of anxiety, can’t sit still, questioning everything that I have planned for. I also didn’t seem real excited about it.
That night we loaded everything up, it’s no fun trying to do that at 0’dark 30. Smoker was attached and all that was left was to get a good night’s sleep. While emptying my pockets out I noticed I still had my trailer keys, Normally I put them in the truck but while loading everything I must have forgotten about it. No biggie I’ll just put them in my Cubs hat with everything else out of my pockets including the truck keys and wallet. I’m not going anywhere without those items.
We made it to bed early and woke up rested and ready to get going. We loaded up the remaining items, you know all the cold things that can’t sit out overnight. I grabbed my wallet, truck keys and my BBQ hat, and off we went.
The BBQ competition was in Clinton, IL and it was about a 1.5 hour drive, this was going to be the farthest comp of the year. WOW I haven’t been able to say that in like forever.
A little background on this comp. This was a fundraiser for HOOAH Deer Hunt For Heroes. This is a group that helps veterans with anxiety and difficulty interacting in public spaces. They take veterans on fishing and hunting trips at no cost whatsoever to the vets, and provide them with all the gear, minus firearms, that they will need. They said it costs about $1000 per vet to do this.
While driving to the comp, my mind kept going over everything and wondering if I didn’t miss something. Yup I sure did, I forgot my timeline, CRAP!!! Good thing I should be able to fudge it off the top of my head.
Oh and my list of what rubs to add to the meats.
Oh and my laptop that has everything backed up on it.
Damn this is not starting off very well. Hopefully it is a sign that we are going to do well at the end of the day.
We arrive at the comp right on time, back up to our site and get ready to unhook the smoker. Wait, where are the trailer keys?
*&$%^#@* I didn’t grabbed them from the Cubs hat. Thankfully I have a 2 piece hitch and was able to drop the smoker to the ground and get it off of the truck. SMDH.
Finally gt all setup and work on getting our meats trimmed. The weather was actually a lot better than we were thinking it was going to be. The forecast had been calling for hot and humid and a 10% chance of rain, what we initially got was mid 70’s. It was so cool that Leslie was asking for a blanket. I know that doesn’t say much LOL, but even I admitted that being in shorts was a bit cool.
Oh just a suggestion, maybe someone should use a high visibility device to block traffic instead of these.
Someone ran right through it, then went through the parking lot, went around another one as she hopped a curb. SMH. And I was just thinking as I used the porta-potty right by there, that it’s a good thing the road is blocked so no one would get hit leaving a porta-potty.
It didn’t take long to start questioning the weather channel, sounds of thunder in the distance prompted a RADAR check. Good thing we did, some pretty good thunderstorms looked to be heading our way. So we made sure to batten down our hatches and gave a heads up to the other teams. Fortunately there wasn’t much in the way of gusty winds. Just a good amount of rain for a bit. The rain gave us a break right about shot time.
The 0900 good luck shot was well attended and even had some fun with the toast. Lucas said we should include prepping chicken into it. His reasoning, I’m sure came from my request to make an exception to the “No trimming meat prior to meat inspection” rule, as I was concerned about the possible hot air temperatures. His request was honored:
“To those of you that served in the past,
and those of you that still protect our ass.
To the judges that trust our prepping skills,
and hope that our chicken doesn’t make them ill.
To the teams that travel near and far,
I’d like to give you all a big HOOAH!”
Turn in times came and the moment of tasting did as well. I couldn’t get happy about anything we were turning in. Nothing was bad, but nothing was great either. Chicken seemed juicy with great tenderness, but lacked a pop in flavor. Got a comment from 1 judge saying that the chicken was a bit under done. Does anyone know if the USDA changed their safe chicken temperature recommendations? Each piece was at least 160*. SMH oh well, their score wouldn’t have helped me much.
After getting mixed signals from the judges about the chicken breasts, anywhere from the best ever to leave it out, we opted to not cook it this time.
The ribs overcooked a bit and by luck I caught them early enough. Again no real pop in the flavor. I was hoping that it was just my taste buds being stubborn.
On the boxes we tried to do a green leaf base with a parsley border. Honestly it looked better in person than the picture.
I told Leslie I felt this was going to be a mulligan competition as I didn’t think our entries were that great. Good but not great.
Award time came around and our thoughts were right, the judges agreed with my taste buds.
Chicken – 127.50 for 8th place
Ribs – 125.50 for 7th place
Overall – 253.00 for 7th place out 11 teams.
Not how we wanted to do at all. Sometimes making bigger changes isn’t always the best strategy, maybe just a small tweek might be all that is needed.
On the positive side, between all the teams donating their winnings and the CIBCC making a donation, HOOAH received $700 and nearly enough to pay for a vet’s hunting trip.
Congrats to Oink & Doink BBQ for the GC and to Smokin’ Wet BBQ for the RGC.
We’re still not out of the running for TOY, we just need to get some judges to be generous. Top 5 scores get counted. See you guys in Villa Grove.
|Oink & Doink||263.5||260||249.5||267||1040.00|
|Smokin’ Wine O’s||267||263||247||246||1023.00|
|82’s BBQ Crew||269.5||260.5||253||783.00|