New Palestine, IN

This weekend we were at the “New Palestine Wine, Brew & Bar-B-Que Too” competition

  This competition was going to be a true test of skills as a good portion of those competing were championship teams. 6 of the teams alone were in the overall top 100 of the KCBS TOY. Leslie was optimistic and wanting to win it all, I on the other hand was just hoping to get a call in the categories. Seeing the team list it was looking like it would be a challenge to crack it. 

We started out on Thursday to prevent having to maneuver around the other 56 teams and to get some good rest before the near sleepless cooking night begins. The event location was fantastic and utilities were nearly perfect. Water and electricity were close by, the only negative would be it was only 15 amp. 

The sites were on grass and really helped keep the near 100 degree temperatures from being totally unbearable. My only concern with grass was the possibility of rain making it a challenge to leave, but it only sprinkled on us.  

During the cook’s meeting we were told that the standard turn in times were going to be delayed 1 hour. As insignificant as this may sound, it is a mental factor. As cook’s you work/cook on a routine timeline and throwing a 1 hour delay into the mix forces you to rethink and to re-plan your timeline. For me, it almost cost me a category.

I went ahead and started my big meats as usual. I normally plan for them to be done ahead of turn-in and rest in the Cambro. Ribs & chicken cook on a specific timeline with very little variation and every timeline event is important. As the time for chicken comes around I realized at the last minute that I had not had my chicken ready for the cooker. A sudden rush of urgency hit me and I scrambled to get them on. I managed to get them cooking just about on time. After 1/2 hour of cooking it hit me, I forgot to inject them. Unfortunately at that point it was too late to do anything about it and we’d just have to hope for the best. 

Throughout the day things seemed to be fairly smooth and easy, other than making a mental effort to remember the time delays. Remember I’m trying to keep focused with little sleep. 

I noticed something during turn in times, as stressful as that time period should be, I get into a very energetic yet calm mood. Maybe it’s the beer, maybe it’s just me, who knows.

As 5:00 came around our nerves started in again with hopes of hearing our name called. 

During the award announcements we were shocked at the lack of expected names being called. And in the end a little disappointed at not hearing our name. 

I still had hopes that we scored well. Last week the KCBS implemented a new scoring program and this was the first time that we got a chance to see it for ourselves. Image It showed us who was being judged on the same table as us and how each judge/table had scored during the event. I am totally thrilled about this new format, as it gives me something new to play with. I just have to figure out what I want to know from it. 

In the end our category scores were good and our overall score was the best that we have ever done. We are moving in the right direction for an eventual win, it’s just not going as quickly as I would like. 

I’m hoping we can still add a couple more comps to our schedule, if not our next one is Sept 27-28 in Danville, IL


Franklin, IN

This past weekend was our 4th competition for the season and another new one for us. This event was held in downtown Franklin IN around their square. The location was about as great as it can get, newly asphalted parking lot & water/power ran right to you. Trashcans were provided right at our site and porta potties were within a short walk. The staff was extremely helpful with making sure we had what we needed, including all the free ice we could melt.

I learned that you can tie a canopy to a heavy object, but that doesn’t guarantee it won’t fly away. The wind played havoc with us all weekend, just as soon as we thought it died down another wave of wind would develop. At least the rain stayed away for the most part until Saturday afternoon. My poor wife, the turn in person, had to make a makeshift poncho. Who would have thought to bring clothing for rain weather? Oh yeah I do remember vowing not to make that mistake again.

Chicken has been a frustrating category for us this year. No matter what we seem to give the judges they let us know their disapproval. This time we tried a new injection and a modified technique that we really liked on Tuesday. After we sorted through the choices, we built our box and sent the chicken in. We did our ritual taste test and to be honest we weren’t that happy with it. Talk about taking any wind out of sails for the remainder of the event. I was totally bummed and even Leslie said how she couldn’t believe how upset I looked. But there was still a comp to finish.

Ribs had looked pretty good when we trimmed them. During the cook they seemed to cook faster than I wanted them to. Not sure if  I have a thermometer issue or if it was just the ribs. I took them off an hour early to save them from being totally overcooked. At turn in, we cut them and could tell that some were definitely overcooked, we tried to select the ones that would be less offensive and filled the box. Upon tasting them, they seemed to be pretty much on the money for what we were hoping for.

When we went shopping for our pork butts I noticed that they didn’t seem to have great “money muscles” and were on the smaller size (13-14 Lb) cryo-vacs. I usually like to get 16-18 Lb packages. Once we prepped them the money muscles looked better. We tried a new injection this time and initially I had reservations about the taste of it, but what the heck. I was able to get 3 out of 4 butts injected before I gave up on clearing clogs from the injector. Which kinda worked in my favor, if I didn’t like the flavor of the injected butts I always had a back up. The butts cooked great and at turn in the injected ones made the cut. We liked them so much that they only got a drizzle of sauce.

The brisket, once out of the plastic, had me a little concerned. The flat was thin and not a lot of marbling. During the cook it seemed to cook fine, but could never get the burnt ends done to my satisfaction. Brisket has been a big category for us this year so we had high hopes again. This time all we turned in was the flat.

During awards we were getting excited because they were handing awards to the top 10. We have been hitting that area with our brisket so I thought for sure I was bringing something home.

After all the names were called we ended up not hearing our’s once. Talk about a disappointment. Leslie followed the routine and got our results from the reps. Here is how we finished:

Out of 32 teams

Chicken – 22nd (157.7142)

Ribs – 25th (151.4286) comment card said they were overcooked. We kinda knew that. We could have hit 15 th place had we hit our mark on tenderness.

Pork – 16th (162.8568)

Brisket – 19th (158.8570)

Overall – 21st (630.8566)

To see how we stand in the KCBS click here for our standings. This is out of 4500 teams

As usual we had a great time meeting new teams and we even had a great compliment. One of the teams that have a lot of respect for came up to us and gave us a compliment on how good our sauce was. The head cook also had given us a compliment on how good our food was. He had been at a judging class that we cooked for. It’s little things that like that can make up for not hearing your name called in front of everyone else. Thanks Gary.

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