2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 850 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 14 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Every opinion comes with a consequence

I have always said that the BBQ community is full of great people. They always seem to be willing to help the other guy, whether he is a friend or a stranger. I have seen this through volunteering with Operation BBQ Relief and within the world of BBQ Competitions. Cooks are willing to give of themselves so that the other guy has a fair chance and usually not ask for anything in return.
I have even given of myself to help a local guy get up and running. This may have only been from providing advice and supporting him while he was vending, but advice can be a valuable bit of help. I did this even as I was operating a catering and sauce company. I never did this to get anything in return, but truly wanted to help what I thought was a decent guy succeed with his dream.

Yesterday, I was hit with a bit of reality as to the character of this guy and subsequently ended my ties/”friendship” with him and no longer will support his business.

While I was scrolling through Facebook I noticed a conversation that he was apart of. Someone had accused him of not cleaning up a softball field after he used it. Through the numerous heated replies the following comments were made:

“I don’t owe soldiers nothing B***h”

“The military huh?? F**k the military b***h”

There was also comments made about soldiers deserving PTSD because they volunteered for the military.

Now I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion and just because I don’t agree with it doesn’t make it wrong. But I also believe that you should be ready to accept the consequences of those opinions.

The owner of the business is Justin Shaw and the business name is Dogg Pound BBQ out of Covington IN. Please pass this information along those that have served proudly in our military as I would hate for Justin to benefit financially from a group of people that he has so little respect for.

What a difference a breed makes.

If you spend any time around a competition cook it won’t be long before the topic of brisket and what grade to use. Then add into that discussion what breed of cattle to shop for. You’ll get a wide variety of answers depending on who you talk to.

When we started competing I gave myself a very small budget. If it wasn’t necessary it wasn’t being purchased. This was even applied to the meats. I showed up basically with the bare minimum (1 choice brisket, 1-2 commodity butts, 2 slabs of spare ribs and 10-12 thighs). Looking back I can see this as a bit risky, one small screw up and the cook was over.

Recently the conversation of Wagyu beef came up again and is it really worth the cost. It’s a hard cost to swallow, pun intended, when compared to the price of prime and even more so, choice beef. I take in a lot of advice and sort though any bias and try to come to a reasonable decision. That decision was made a bit easier when Snake River Farms changed their pricing and shipping. It sits a bit easier when shipping is only $9.99 compared to $30 or more. So I pulled the trigger and placed an order. My plan was to cook a SNF brisket against a prime using the identical methods and flavors. This would be the only way to truly tell if there was a difference.

The wagyu arrives already wet aged for 28 days, so that matches up pretty close to the prime’s wet age time that I put it through. It did arrive frozen so a few more days in the refrigerator were need. I ordered the 11-14 lb range briskets.

I was impressed right out of the box. Both were in the 13 LB range and the marbling was amazing. The flats looked a bit on the thin side. There have been several people voice their displeasure with the thickness of the flats, but I have also heard that they tend to thicken up while cooking.

brisket 1


I opened up the packaging on both test briskets and again was impressed with the Wagyu. Very little excess fat on the meat side. The color was amazing. It was bright red and looked like it was freshly cut off of the cattle.

brisket 3

I then did the same with the Prime. (Note: this was a rejected brisket from our competition selection based on it’s size. It was an 8.71 LB and looked to be missing a good chunk of the flat.) Huge difference in the amount of fat. The color was more of a purple color.

brisket 4


I planned on an 8 hour cook using 1 UDS. I like to get some sleep every now and then. This would hopefully have the briskets done by lunch time. I had also been advised by a few cooks to watch the Wagyu as it likes to cook pretty fast and cook it hotter than you normally would. The temp suggestion kinda disappointed me as my UDS holds a temp of 250 without any problems. At 3 am the meat went on, with my new Thermoworks oven thermometer and it’s a good thing to.

The plan was to wake up at 7 to check on them and wrap. Leslie woke up at 6 to let the dogs out and noticed the temp on the small prime brisket was at 205.

Holy crap!!!! a 3 hour brisket how is that possible? I know the Wagyu would cook faster but not the prime. I guess the prime felt like showing off and tried to act like a Wagyu. That’s fine as long as it tastes better.

brisket 6

It’s possible because I am assuming with all the fat dripping off it must have spiked the temp to 325. Go thing the Wagyu was only at 170.

brisket 5

I went ahead and wrapped the Wagyu and planned for another few hours before worrying about it.

WRONG AGAIN!!!!! 7:30 am and the Waygu is done at 210.

brisket 7

Well I guess they’ll just have to rest a bit longer.

Now it comes down to the bread and butter of it all. How did they compare to each other?

Prime – The point was perfectly tender, but the flat seemed to be a bit tough. Flavor was about typical, except for the burning grease smoke flavor in the background. It wouldn’t have been an issue on the offset.

Wagyu – The point still needed about another hour or so, but the flat was perfect. Laid over the finger with a bit of separation. The flat did thicken up to about 1 1/2 – 2 inches. The flavor was outstanding. Great beef flavor without the pot roast flavor. Very moist.

Sorry I didn’t get pictures of the finished products.

So with that said would I switch to Wagyu? You betcha, as long as the budget allows it and the payout justifies it. I’ll try another one in the offset to try and get a better time on it while maintaining the temp a tad better.

Starting a different kind of fire

Here I go again, with another BBQ idea.

It all started with me needing to end my competition season early and for an unknown length of time. It was always said in the beginning that if it was no longer fun then it wasn’t worth doing. Unfortunately the fun of it left my family this year. It’s still something that I will consider/want to pick back up in the future, so I am not out forever, just not sure when.

So with that, it has left me with a lot of free time to think about BBQ. You can take me out of it, but you can’t take it out of me.

One of the many thoughts that I had was “Why isn’t there a website that rates BBQ competitions?”. Also, we is it that I always seem to type ‘comeptitions’ instead of ‘competitions’. Go back and see how many times I have typed that word, that is how many times I’ve corrected it.

OK back on track. It amazes me that teams had to rely on word of mouth, from hopefully a reliable and honest team as to what an event was like. All it could possibly take for a competition to lose teams, is one team with a large following to speak bad of that event. When actually it may have been a great event it but that team just happened to be in a bad spot.

So I have taken the initiative and came up with a rating system that is weight based and comes from teams filling out a short survey after they attend an event.

I hope this takes off and get huge, as I am already thinking about 300 steps ahead of where I am at now. Not sure that my wife will appreciate it as much as I will though.

If you are a team, or know a team competing, please take a moment to take the survey after you compete. It will hopefully be a huge win for everybody.

Quincy, IL 6/21/14

There is something to be said when a 3.5 hour drive is a close competition.

This past weekend we competed in Quincy IL considering the previous drives I was actually looking forward to it. I was excited not to have to rush as much getting there. After all it was going to be hot and humid and the RV was pretty comfortably temped while driving.

We left town at about 9 and only had to make a few stops before we were officially on the road. I still needed to pick up butter, chicken breasts and apple juice from the store. As well as stuff to eat for dinner. Then needed to fill up on gas and dump our waste water tanks.

So after getting the apple juice, chicken breasts and stuff for dinner we started driving out of town. It turns out we were driving with a shadow. That shadow just so happened to have a badge and a light bar. So we had an unplanned delay. I instantly felt defensive because I knew we hadn’t broken any laws. The only thing I could think of, from reading about other team’s experiences, is this officer felt that I probably wasn’t properly licensed to drive the RV while towing my trailer.

As the officer walked up I had my license out and window down, letting the cool air out. He proceeded to tel me that he didn’t need that and that he just wanted to take a look at my cooker.

Are you freaking kidding me?

Well to say the least I was a bit relieved and kinda felt a bit important. He even knew who we were and said that he and a friend were going to compete in Danville. It never gets old answering questions, even if it puts us a little behind schedule.

So after getting back in my son thought it was hilarious and was taking pictures through the rear view camera and mirrors. In case you couldn’t tell he can be quite the funny guy.

Nothing to see here

Nothing to see here

We get to the gas station fill up and go to dump our tanks. As I am getting ready to unscrew the drain cap, I remember that I was having a hard time pushing the black tanks closure in all the way. I SLOOOOWLY start to unscrew the cap and notice immediately I was about to have a major problem. Yup brown liquid started to flow out.

I immediately closed the cap as the thought of a horrible movie scene entered my mind.

Rethinking my strategy I attacked the problem with the skill of a ninja. No major spills and the tanks got emptied.

This drive was pretty much a straight shot, but boring as can be. I am pretty sure no one lives between Jacksonville and Quincy IL. They just put seeds in the ground and leave. Heck they don’t even have decent cell service, much less radio stations.

As we arrived we got set up and tried to get motivated to begin working. Even the A/C wasn’t motivated.

After a late cook’s meeting and a much appreciated provided dinner, the prep work got done. I even enjoyed a bit of a nap before firing up the cooker.

The next morning things were going smooth until I trimmed the ribs. It was then that I remembered that I had forgot something from the store. Maybe you caught it, if you said butter you’d be correct.

Good thing competition teams are generous, Peter Wright with Lion Bout The Que, gave us a tub to use. Now I just wish I could have remembered to have injected my chicken.

The rest of the cook went alright, but it seemed like I just couldn’t get into my groove. It was like I was 5 minutes behind and not real fluid. It may have just been the heat taking a toll on me. Whatever the case I didn’t feel like it was going to be my best cook.

After the last turn in we got started immediately on preparing to leave and were done in about 1 hour. What a relief. That gave me about a 1 hour break to rest. I figured I’d get up around 3:30 and head over for the 4:00 awards.

Well apparently we didn’t get the message that they were starting awards at 3:15 instead. I probably should have figured something was up as we were the only team outside at around 3:30.

We made it to awards in time to hear the 4th place overall winner announced.

Kinda disappointing to not be a part of it, even though our name wasn’t called.

In the end we didn’t do as good as we hoped, but we didn’t do bad either.

Out of 25 teams we finished

12th in chicken – pretty sure had I injected we would have gotten a call

14th in ribs – 3 slabs, 3 different stages of doneness, again

19th in pork – scratching my head on this one, thought we had a pretty good product

13th in brisket – didn’t dip my slices before boxing.

15th overall – just goes to show that I need to think about everything I am doing.

I looked over the scores and was frustrated with myself because I saw that had I had more of an average cook we could have easily received a call or two.



Knoxville TN day 2

After a peaceful night’s rest. I woke up the next morning and had my routine pot of coffee. The day of setting up continued as usual except we weren’t as rushed.

Once the meat inspection was completed, I hopped onto prepping the chicken. I hate working on chicken if it is hot outside, and it was definitely working on heating up.

After we finished our jobs we started walking around and meeting some new teams. That is a benefit of competing in a new area, you get to meet new friends. One of the new teams we befriended was “Nibble Me This” Guess what he has a blog also.

Speaking of meeting friends, that afternoon Erik and his family made it out to visit us. That really made the event great. It’s nice to be able to get a break from the routine and get caught up with friends. Erik had said how he was interested in comp BBQ, so guess what I put him to work for a little bit. Once the big meats were trimmed, they suggested we go out for dinner. Now that is a welcomed invite for sure. It really is nice to get away from the site and some different places. Even if it isn’t very far, it’s still different.

This was quickly becoming the best contest ever.

After dinner we made our way back to the cook site and got back to the routine. The weather was turning out to be perfect for cooking, not too hot and not too cold, with a slight breeze to keep the smoke blowing.

The cook went as normal as could be, for the first part. Then the meats started to stall and not break over.

The ribs which have been overcooking all year, suddenly decided to take their sweet time once I adjusted for their quick cooking. I struggled to get them done enough. I had to crank the temp up on the smoker to try and get them done.

Chicken thighs cooked fast and the breasts cooked slow.

The 4 butts that I brought for the comp were stalled, while the 2 that were provided for people’s choice cooked right on time.

I felt as though I was running around all morning checking temps. This was the first time that I didn’t even really use the Cambro.

Come turn in time I was truly pulling meat straight from the cooker and sorting it then. Not much of it really pleased me, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great.

I wished we had taken more pics, but we were rushing to get something turned in that we were happy with. Pushed one entry to within about 1 minute of the turn in time.

The only category we thought we had a good shot at was the chicken. But as history has shown that isn’t always the case.

4:30 the awards started and we listened to all of the names in the chicken category get called, except our’s. Rib category was the same way, but we didn’t think we had a shot with them.

Pork started getting called out and Leslie was getting ready to head back to the RV to finish packing some things, when suddenly we heard the unexpected.

“Second place pork goes to ’82’s BBQ Crew'”

I am glad that we were the only team with ’82’ in the name because before he could say anymore than that, I had jumped up from my seat gave a pretty good “WOOHOO!!!!”

I really didn’t mean to make a big scene, but the emotion of it caught me first. Tell me this picture doesn’t prove how happy I was. This was a big win considering the caliber of teams that were there.



This definitely made the drive home a bit easier.

We had a fantastic cook, but so did everyone else. At the end of the day here is how we did.

Out of 48 teams

Chicken 27th with a score of 166.8228

Ribs 45th with a score of 157.0744

Pork 2nd with a score of 173.7028 (new high score for us)

Brisket 20th with a score of 165.1200 (new high score for us)

Overall 24th with a score of 662.7200