@glen said in [Meat Rushmore BBQ Competition BBQ thread](/post/52608):
> Wow, good to hear from you again. Tell us more about that sausage!
Well, some really intelligent individual decided that it should be turned in immediately after dessert. The same judges judge all the sides, so that means that someone who just ate a bunch of cheesecake, banana pudding, etc, were now going to be eating sausage. We were discussing that during the day Friday, and decided we should go sweet with the sausage so that we aren't shocking their taste buds. So we took our normal smoked sausage we use for vending and catering - it's basically a polish fresh sausage that we hot smoke - took it out of the casings, made a fatty, and sweetened it up. It wasn't what I would want, but I felt it was what the judges would be able to handle at that point.
@papasop said in [Meat Rushmore BBQ Competition BBQ thread](/post/52614):
> Congrats you guys. You sure put in a lot of hard work. Prizes are nice but I'm guessing the experience and camaraderie play a big factor. Well done!
They do. Like most niche things, I assume, the majority of the people are so good, and caring, and just fantastic people. They're our BBQ Family. It's amazing when the people you are competing against are genuinely happy when you do well - even at their expense.
Last weekend we went down to Roswell GA for the Royal Oak Invitational. Royal Oak is one of our sponsors, and this was a fun event just for their teams, and for their employees to come out and see what Comp BBQ is all about. Royal Oak sponsors a little over 100 teams, and we were chosen with 33 other teams to come take part in this event. They did it up right, too. All our meals provided, meat to cook provided, free ice, power, water...everything you could ask for in a contest.
In that contest, including some of the biggest names in BBQ - Malcolm Reed, Heath Riles, Megan Day...Some of the biggest teams in comp bbq as well, we had our work cut out for us. The SCA event they had. Well, I turned it in. Still can't figure steak contests out. I definitely enjoyed the practice steak, though!
The BBQ though, that went better. 1st in Ribs with a 180, 5th in pork with a 177, and 3rd overall with a 701, and the chance to sit on the Royal Oak Throne! We ended up 0.59 points short of winning the Grand Championship and the $10k that went with that, which would have gone a long ways, but super proud of what we could do in that field.
We've got 4 more contests this season, spread out over 2 weeks. This weekend we're off, then a double to end the points chase season. Then in November we're off to Shawnee OK for the World Invitational.
So the American Royal was in the books, with plenty of hardware including that sexy, sexy, square trophy.
Everything went smooth on turn ins, then we got cleaned up and headed to awards for the Side dish as well as the open competition. 467 teams. Everyone trying to get on stage.
I'll keep the drama short. We didn't hear our name much. We did finish 24th in Beans, 31st in Dessert, and in the top 100 in everything but ribs and chicken (the same ribs that scored 20th the day before, lol). None of those were good enough for the MC to call out Meat Rushmore, however. We did, though, get to hear it once, and boy was it a big one - a World Championship in Sausage!!!!!
(forgive the watermark, they want $15 to download this picture)
![Annotation 2021-10-21 135739.jpg](/assets/uploads/files/1634842950854-annotation-2021-10-21-135739.jpg)
The pin in the trophy with the yellow circle? That's our 180 pin for a perfect score! On stage with us was our good friends Joe (with Slaps BBQ) and Aaron and Christy with Man Meat BBQ. To share the stage with 2 other local teams that we are so close to was amazing.
After awards, we had to get everything prepped for Sunday, and try to get a couple hours of shuteye. We had another early morning, and jam packed day with 4 more turn ins.
I take this photo every year at the Royal. Ever since they moved it to Kansas Speedway, we've been in the same spot, and I get this same pic. Still Dark out. Smoke starting to rise into the air. It's a very soothing picture for me and one I always look forward to taking.
Turkey - here we go again, being polarizing. We made these turkey crustinis with brie and cranberry sauce, and I couldn't stop eating them. Luckily, I did stop while we still had 6 to turn in....
I don't have a picture of the sausage turn in. My wife has it and refuses to let me share it. More on the sausage turn in later.
That evening we went to awards for the invitational. This was only for the main 4 meats (Chicken, ribs, pork, brisket). The rest would wait until Sunday night.
In order to get a call in a 188 team field, you have to do more than turn in good food. You have to turn in REALLY good food, and then get REALLY lucky. Even with them calling the top 20, it took a minimum of 176 out of 180 points to finish 20th in any category.
We got 20th in ribs and 17th in pork!
Super exciting moment, as any time you get to walk at this event it means something. To do so twice was amazing.
Veggies we usually go too polarizing. In the past we've done collard greens, brussels sprouts, etc. One day we'll learn to make corn, deep fry it, and call it a day. This year was not that day. We went with Green Bean Casserole in a pastry cup. Pretty tasty, but we overcooked the bottoms of the pastry just a hair.
Potatoes was all about cheese and bacon. Made a bacon cheesy potato, put it in a twice baked potato shell. Was incredible.
Dessert - If you only get to witness one food competition turn in ever, go witness the dessert turn in at the American Royal. The presentations are insane. The amount of effort that people put into it is truly stunning. Me? I just wanted to eat banana pudding. So I made banana pudding. It was exactly what I needed. Judges seemed to like it too.
Mid September was the American Royal. This is referred to as the "BBQ Family Reunion" as there are people from all over the country (and most years the world) that you may only see that one week out of the year, but it's like you see each other all the time. If there's a good thing about social media, it's that those of us in these niche groups can be closer than ever, and keep up to date with what is going on.
Thursday is the party night for the teams. Friday night gets all the public out, and there are some insane parties, but teams have stuff to cook the next day. Thursday, we just eat, drink, and enjoy. Snake River Farms always has their weinie roast, and then there becomes a wandering caravan of drunk bbq guys going from one person's spot to the next until we settle somewhere that has music.
So after the parties Thu/Fri we got down to business. Saturday beginning at noon is the Invitational, which pits champions vs champions. Due to the pandemic and not having the Royal last year, this year had a record field of 188 teams vying to be the best of the best.
That afternoon is the side dish and ancillary competition which consists of veggies, beans, potato, dessert, turkey and sausage. These are fun entries, as it lets you get outside of your comfort zone a little bit, and be creative. They are also open to all 467 teams to enter, making a monster field.
Beans is always one of the most boring for us. I like our beans. They're good. They don't blow you away with any one thing, however, and they're kinda tough to fancy up. We added a c**p ton of brisket to our normal beans to try and add a little something.
Time for another, entirely to late update!
The last couple months have been busy at work, as just as soon as I think I have people hired, someone else leaves. This has left little time for anything other than work and prep for BBQ competitions.
Labor Day weekend we went to Omaha for their Septemberfest contest they hold along with their fall festival. We ended up parked right next to the festival which means we had a lot of looky loos, and people asking questions which was awesome to share what we do with the public.
Then in the evening, I got to tell teenagers to quit getting into my coolers and trying to take my beer. Finally I just moved the cooler into the trailer so I didn't have to mess with it. Then, I went around talking to some friends to come back over and have them sitting in our chairs. All things that don't really matter to me (I was a dumb teenager at one point too, and try to remember that others are now), but I was shocked that they would just sit down in other people's spots on other's stuff without thinking about it.
At the end of the day, we went down got 2nd brisket, 3rd chicken, 5th ribs, 7th pork and Reserve Grand Champion. I have the pictures somewhere, but you've seen plenty of my meat in this thread before. I also have a group picture somewhere, but maybe it's on my wife's phone? Not sure.
Hey guys! I know I've failed miserably at keeping this up to date, but between work and cooking contests, I've just had absolutely no time. I think the work part is taken care of for a bit, so I'm going to share some updates, and get some stuff typed up.
In the meantime, I did a YT video for one of my sponsors I thought I'd drop a link for here. If this is not allowed, since it is in reference to another BBQ/Grilling store) my apologies.
We knew that we would finish high in the overall rankings, based on the 3 high calls. We didn't know where our chicken landed though, and there was a team with 4 top 10s, as well as one with a 1st, 2nd, and 4th, so we weren't sure where we would land, but figured top 5 for sure, and probably top 3. I figured 2nd or 3rd.
As they were reading off the top 10, they called our friend Bill our of Texas for 3rd (he had the 1,2,4), and I was prepared to get up to walk up for Reserve Grand Champion. However, they called the 4 call team....and then called us for overall Grand Champions.
A little bit of a Walton's tie in here. Kelly, who won RGC (in the pic below in the cowboy hat) has a reputation for his sausage making. When I decided to get into it, the first thing I did was sign up for one of his sausage classes, and then started scouring the web and youtube. That's when I came across Walton's. I loved the YouTube videos, I had browsed the website, and I liked what I saw, but I hadn't pulled the trigger on anything. During his class, he mentioned Walton's as being a great resource for buying supplies, and how he orders from there frequently. That sealed it in my mind, which led me to this community, which led you to reading my ramblings. So, without this guy, I may not be here right now.
State Center, IA this weekend! Ready to get up there and do some cooking!
Brisket was interesting. We go back and forth on whether to turn in burnt ends or not. Part of the issue is that there is not a standard to aim for with burnt ends. With slices, there are tests that judges use to judge tenderness and if you hit your marks on cooking it correctly, but burnt ends are the wild west. Some people like them a little fattier, some more rendered, and each judge seems to grade burnt ends differently sometimes. We actually went about 2 years without turning them in, and recently have started doing it again and have seen success with it.
I didn't think they were going to go in this week. The point was a little thin, and they seemed to not be cooking the way we wanted them to. We cubed them up though, and they were good, so we put them in. It was a good decision as we also finished in 1st in brisket, giving us 2 1sts and 3 top 5s in the contest.
Pork is pork. Pork has been so good to us for so long, until we get to boxing, it's almost robotic. Same thing at the same time every time. After they've been wrapped for an hour, I check them, and I can usually tell you within 5 minutes of when they'll be done. While I like the success that it brings, it's made it less fun to cook, as it really has become a recipe, not a journey like some of the other meats. A recipe that you have to have the experience and the feel for from doing it the same way for so long, but a recipe nonetheless.
Here they are coloring up. We flip our butts halfway through the before wrapping stage to even out the color, and this is from right before I did that. You can see the money muscles that I trimmed out beforehand, and the one side is kinda pale. Once I flip it over, it will catch up and even out the color nicely.
This was an interesting turn in, that definitely made things "fun" (that's code for stressful). 3 of the 4 money muscles, which we slice, were tough. Again, we're talking fine lines here and the difference between tough and mushy is miniscule. However, I wasn't comfortable turning them in. The other was close to mushy, but I knew if I sliced them thicker, they would work. The problem is getting 6 slices (one per judge) that are thick out of one muscle. Luckily, it all worked out and we were able to do so. We ended up winning pork, successfully defending our 1st place pork from last year at this contest.
Ribs continue to be a strong category for us, I really think the flavor on our drum smokers adds a flavor that hits the judges happy spot. Ribs, pork, and brisket all get fat dripping onto the fires that combust and give the meat a flavor that is pretty much impossible to recreate on another smoker.
Here they are about a half hour in, just waiting for them to color up before we wrap. This usually takes about 2 hours total.
After we wrap with butter, sauce, sugar, etc we put them back on for another 45 minutes to and hour until they reach tenderness. Then they rest untnil time to sauce, slice, box and give to the judges. We had one rack this time that was just way better than the others. All 4 were turn in worthy, but this one...something just jumped out about them. There was a bit of an issue with some fat on top of them, which made me not love the appearance, but we went with just the 6 bones across the box this time to only allow the judges to eat the best we had to offer.
These ended up 4th place.
Saturday morning when we got to our spot from the hotel, it was already 80 degrees, but being that it was 4:30 in the morning it felt comfortable with a slight breeze and no sunshine. so we got off and running with the big meats, which go on at 5:15.
Chicken continues to be our nemesis, but I thought the chicken we turned in this week was really, really good. I have a hard time writing much about it because, well, there isn't much to tell. I'm going to try and get some prep pictures of it this weekend, so hopefully I'll be able to do better next week. It finished 14th, but I really believe it deserved better.
OK, so this weekend we went to Wagoner, OK. As I mentioned last time, OK hasn't been too kind to us recently, and it's always stupid hot this time of year, but....we're just gluttons for punishment, I suppose.
The temps throughout the day both days were high, but the humidity was staggering. We have a clock that we set up on the porch of our trailer, that includes weather. Now, our smokers are up there, etc, so it's always hotter there than on the ground, but on that clock it was reading 103* and 39% humidity at one point Saturday. I drink a lot of water, and the heat usually doesn't bother me too much, but by about noon on Saturday, I was feeling it and really dragging. Also, noon is when turn ins start - not the best time to be feeling bad. Luckily, turn in time means I can be inside where there is AC.
Friday night there was an SCA contest. I have struggled in every one of those I've done, but the more I do, the higher my scores get, I just need to get in a rhythm with them I think, and honestly I don't do enough to do that. Combine that with I never cook my steaks at home to the doneness required in SCA, and, well, it's nice to have something to do on a Friday at a BBQ contest.
This was probably the best tasting steak I've cooked in a contest. The appearance....not so much. I left my pins at home that I use to hold the steak together after trimming some of the fat out from between the eye and the spinalis, so I tried not trimming it out, and as the fat rendered it kinda fell apart. I don't have a pic, because as my wife was getting her phone out to take one, I told her I didn't want to remember a steak that looked that bad, although I used some more colorful language than that. I do have a pic of the set up though, with my Chiefs red PK named Patrick, ready to rock.
All and all, the steak finished 14th, and while we didn't get a good appearance score, it certainly didn't get hit the way it should have.
After that, it was time to clean up, have a beer, and wait on awards to start. Not getting any calls in the top 10 in the main meats, we were expecting the worst. but, we ended up a respectable 15th in a really tough field, so we'll take it.
This weekend we're back in OK, where they haven't really liked our food the last 3 or 4 times we've been down there so I'm not sure why we go back to that state, lol. Wagoner, OK we'll see you tomorrow!
Brisket was dead on. I really thought that it was going to be top 5 for sure, if not 1st. Loved everything about it. Sometimes, it's just not your day, though. FInished 11th, just outside the money (top 10) on this one.
Pork has been our best category for the last 3 years, and last year we finished 8th in the world out of a little over 2000 teams in the KCBS Team of the Year chase. Average score wise, it still is this year, we just can't seem to get any top results, We'll get a 176 and still find a way to be 8th or something. This pork was on point taste wise, but we the tenderness was a bit off (again, a touch over), and the appearance was sloppy. So what happened? We got all 9s (the highest score judges give) on appearance and tenderness, and all 8s on flavor....I don't get this sport some times.
As always ribs is up next. This has been our best category this year, but we pushed them a little too far this time. Over beats under in comp BBQ world, for a number of reasons, but we knew they needed to tighten up in the box. They must have. They took 14th, but with a score of 173 out of 180, they definitely weren't bad.
I know @jonathon was talking on a livestream about whether comp ribs are sauced. My real name is linked to my youtube account, so that's what shows, but I chimed in about our accomplishments. This is what those comp ribs are about.
Chicken is our nemesis. I don't like trimming it, don't care to cook it, I do like eating it, but everything about making it annoys me. Our scores show it, too. We thought this one was ok, and we got an ok score. Finished 29th. If we ever figure out chicken....watch out, man.
On Friday night, as we were chatting with some other teams, Oklahoma's love of BBQ bologna came up. I thought, shoot, this wouldn't work anywhere else, but I wonder how that would do in a competition in OK? Worst case, I get to take home a bunch of bologna, which I love anyways. Problem was, there was zero chance that my wife was going to let us change course. One of the other teams wasn't doing sausage, so we gave him money to go register, while we ran off to the store to cook BBQ Bologna to turn as him. I'm not going to lie. It was fantastic. It was a risk. It was a hero or zero move.....
and it was a zero. Didn't work. I don't remember the placing, but it was somewhere in the 20s.
This competition had a sausage turn in, which we always enjoy doing. My wife wanted to try something she was thinking about turning in at the American Royal, so we ran with that.
It managed 7th place out of the 50-some teams at the contest.
OK, so work has been crazy the last month or so, and shows no signs of slowing down until the end of July at least. Good problem to have, but not great for keeping this updated. Due to the craziness, we took a month off from competing, which was kind of a nice break, but now we're going to be going hot and heavy for the rest of the year (well, until October when the season ends).
Our last competition was in Bixby, OK where the Rotary club there puts on a Blues and BBQ event. This is a big event for the town, and you can tell they really support it. Walking to turn in was interesting - you had to about double what you thought your walk was so you could dodge the crowds! It actually made us almost miss sausage turn in.
One of the great things about competition BBQ, as I've mentioned is the camaraderie, and the family atmosphere. One tradition is the 9:22 shot. At 9:22, someone hosts a good luck shot, and everyone gathers to wish each other the best.
Why 9:22? Well, you may have something to do 9:15, or something to do at 9:30 for your cook. But, everyone is available at 9:22 (or so the reasoning goes). Some contests then also have a 7:00 Good luck beer, 10:00, 10:30. and 11:00 shot as well. Basically if you're trying to disguise your mild alcholism as a hobby - this is your thing!
@midwest_kc Personally I don't mind the repetition, especially your opinion of what you turn in vs the judging, the quirks that occur in your prep and cook
May be I am living vicariously through you LOL
By the way, where are you competing this weekend?
So, I've been dark on here for a few weeks, partly because we have only had one contest since my last post, and partly because I'm trying to figure out a way to not be as repetitive in my posts. For better or worse, there is a lot of sameness in competitions. I have one this weekend, and I'm going to try and get more "social" pictures, but what would you guys like to see in this thread? I want to make sure that it stays fresh, and relevant to the people who are following the thread, and not get stale.
@midwest_kc said in [Meat Rushmore BBQ Competition BBQ thread](/post/33816):
> @glen we don't, for the most part. Competition BBQ has become a bit homogenized over the years to the point where the flavors aren't that much different. Maybe a touch more vinegar here, more sweetness there, but we don't cook enough in some of those regions to know exactly how much to change. Our flavors are pretty balanced overall, so we tend to do OK regardless.
That makes sense, with KCBS turning out so many CBJ's every year!
@glen we don't, for the most part. Competition BBQ has become a bit homogenized over the years to the point where the flavors aren't that much different. Maybe a touch more vinegar here, more sweetness there, but we don't cook enough in some of those regions to know exactly how much to change. Our flavors are pretty balanced overall, so we tend to do OK regardless.
We have a week off this weekend, before we head out to Indianapolis next week! We've only cooked in Indiana once, and it went....not well. So, we'll see if they like our flavors there this time, and if not, we'll swear off that state forever!
Judges have optional comment cards that they can fill out. Usually, your heart sinks when these come in, as it's negative. Not today. Apparently the adjustments on our pork worked out (9 is the highest score in the KCBS system)
Here is the traditional GC/RGC picture. The funny part is Brad is a one man team (he's on the left in the sizzle shirt), and then here we are rolling deep as hell with 5 people. It made for an interesting pic though.
Here are a couple other pictures, a team picture, plus a pic of our awards, including our 700 sticker, which will go on the trailer at the next contest, and the 700 pin.
Then we cleaned and loaded up again, for the second time, and waited for awards. In this part of the country, we are cooking against the best of the best every weekend, and it makes for some long ones, but you also know you earned it when you end up near the top.
Out of the 33 teams we finished
Overall, we were Reserve Grand Champions (2nd overall) with a score over 700 (720 is the best score possible, the highest I've heard of is 717)! It was a nice bit of redemption after Saturday, and definitely allowed us to end on a high note.
Pork was disappointing. The part that we normally use for our pulled was still a little tough on 2 of the 4 butts, and I didn't like our backup area either. luckily, we got a lot from the other 2, and the money muscle slices were super flavorful and delicious. Unfortunately they were still a touch tight. Pulled a trick out of the bag, and sliced them thinner than normal. This effectively makes the meat more tender, as it shortens fibers, but it also means it could dry out easier, so I soaked them in the jus from the wrap as long as we could before we boxed.
Brisket was on point too. Burnt ends are a controversial topic in comp BBQ. It is the one thing that there isn't really a standard that judges are looking for, meaning scoring can be all over the place with them. At the end of the day, if the fat is rendered, and they are moist and flavorful, we put them in, but they have to be absolutely perfect. We always try the burnt ends, saying we aren't going to turn them in, and then make them tell us to put them in. These did that. I think this may be one of the best briskets we've cooked to date.
Literally everything I got Sunday morning was boomerang/video stuff, so we'll skip right to the turn ins.
Chicken was much better. We left it on the cooker an extra 5 minutes, which made it a touch more tender. We ground it correctly, which toned the spice of the black pepper nicely, just overall a good piece of chicken.
Ribs were money. Man, they were good. Again, made sure we added the honey, which balanced the spice and then we got a perfect bite. It's bad luck to say anything, but I couldn't help but think that anything less than top 5 in ribs would be a travesty. In retrospect, I'd probably put the top row on the bottom and bottom on the top, as it would probably look better, but it is what it is.
We then immediately started cleaning and loading like mad men. Our goal was to get to the next contest before the other teams doing both contests (it was about 30 of us doing both) so that we could get set up and get back for awards. Brisket turn in is at 1:30 and we had both our cook trailer and camper cleaned up, loaded and hooked up, wheels rolling at 1:47. That beat our previous record, last summer when we went from Lane, KS to Emmetsburg, IA for the worst rolling double ever (6 hour drive between the 2) and were rollling at 1:50.
So we got over there, set up, and a couple people went back for awards while I stayed and injected meats, got chicken in brine, and finished washing dishes. They moved awards up by an hour, normally a good thing, which kept me from going back with the team.
The judges did not agree on our assesments of our cook. Out of 54 teams, we did manage a respectable 15th in pork and 16th in ribs, and finished mid pack (27th) overall. It was pretty disappointing, but the great part about doubles is you don't have time to dwell on your successes or failures, but you get an immediate chance to make it right.
We went out to dinner that evening, and I made the classic tired man mistake of having 2 margaritas at dinner, and then not having anything else for an hour or so, which made me ready for bed. I went to bed at 8, which is crazy, but it also got me a full 8 hours of sleep which was nice on Sunday morning.
Pork was money. It was really good. Better, imo, than last week when we just barely missed a perfect score. When our pork scores, it can carry a category that falls a bit short. It's been our best category for a couple years now.
Brisket is a category that used to be probably our best. Definitely neck and neck with pork. For whatever reason it just stopped scoring last summer/fall. No clue what happened. We changed some things over the winter, and didn't have the results we were looking for last weekend, but this isn't the kind of thing where one contest can make you rethink everything. Taste is subjective and sometimes you get a group of judges that loves or hates your taste more than what will be the norm. So, we rolled the same thing, got it a bit more tender, injected it a bit more for moisture, and liked what we had.
Here it is when we wrapped it.
Maybe could have gone a little longer to even out the color, but the way the judges see it, it won't matter. It's difficult to notice a few things like that once it's sliced.
Chicken was a little spicy on Saturday. The rub we use is pretty coarse, so we grind it a bit and I think I over grinded it. Black pepper gets a bit spicier the more it's ground, and it really came through this time. Lesson learned.
Ribs were pretty good. They were a bit spicy too. We later found out, we forgot to put the honey in the sauce, which is what we attributed it to. Tenderness was on, and the flavor wasn't bad, just didn't have that sweetness from the honey. I attribute it to still being in preseason form.
One thing you can always count on at a BBQ contest is camaraderie. One of the ways this comes through is the "good luck" shots and beers that are had at different, very specific times throughout the morning. We typically participate in a 7:07 good luck beer, and good luck shots at 9:22, 10:30, 10:45, and 11:00. At these, cooks gather around and have a shot or a beer and wish each other good luck on their cooks that day. Are certain cooks trying to get you drunk so they can beat you? Maybe. But I partake anyways, lol.
This week we hosted the 11:00 shot both days. We call it our "family shot" which is a little smaller, and usually only has 5-7 people at it, our closest friends in BBQ. We did a shot of fireball mixed with orange crush, which surprisingly wasn't too bad.
So we were back at it last weekend, with what is referred to as a "Rolling Double." This is when you cook a contest Fri/Sat, cleanup, and head to another contest for Sat/Sun. All doubles are exhausting, but these are another beast. Normal doubles have one set up, one tear down, and you stay where you are. Rolling doubles are a lot more work, but this wasn't as bad as some, as they were only 9 miles apart.
Anyways, we went down to St Robert, MO for the Kickin it Route 66 competition and got set up and ready to go.
I recorded some boomerang videos of different things this weekend, thinking that they would be a cool way to show what we're doing, but the board no likey mp4 files, so that's a bust. I suppose I'll get better with these writeups as we go, but I'm trying to think of ways to do so without just repeating the same stuff all the time.
@twilliams Like old folks using the restroom - it all depends.
This contest pays pretty well. The 2nd place finishes each scored $400, so we took home $800 for the day. Not all contests pay that well. Many benefit non profits, etc, and so the majority of the funds goes to those causes. This was put on by the Parks and Rec dept for the city. We have taken some big prizes at some of those others though, and walked away with the same or less money than we won this weekend.
This is not a hobby that is profitable. The very, very, best can scrape together a small profit over the course of the year. They usually have big money sponsors that help cover a lot of their costs, though. We are fortunate to have a few, and they help tremendously, but a contest still costs us about $600 before gas, hotel if we need it, meals, etc. We do a decent amount of traveling so we rack up some gas bills pulling our trailer. We finished 24th in the world last year overall, 8th in pork and 20th in ribs and brisket, and still lost quite a bit of money. We do it because we love the people, we love the competition (old fat guys that don't run much anymore are pretty limited in the things we can get that competitiveness out of our system- that's why so many of us are angry, lol).
Most contests pay the top 10 in categories, and top 2 overall. That can vary by contest, however. Prize pools are anywhere from $3000 to over $100,000 for big contests like the American Royal. We like ones in the 10,000 range, which is pretty healthy for contests that aren't the majors, though $20k is possible. I think this one was $15k.
@Jonathon I will try to make it, for sure. There was supposed to be a BBQ comp in Wichita somewhere last year that canceled. I am hoping it happens this year so I can swing by and check out the store. I haven't seen it on the KCBS site yet though.
@Midwest_kc Don't apologize, it actually makes it a little easier to read when they are split up like that. We did a SCAA a few years ago and would have done one in 20 if covid didn't shut everything down. When we do another you're welcome to compete!
After cleaning up and loading up, we headed down to the awards ceremony, to await our fate. We ended up taking 2nd in both ribs and pork, each one within a point of a perfect score. We were hit pretty good on chicken and brisket though, and landed 19th out of 70 teams overall. When you're competing in a field like this, the margins for error are tiny. We were only a couple scores outside of the top 10, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.
Up next we have a double this weekend, and it's what we call a "rolling double" which means we'll cook Saturday, clean up, and head to another contest to cook Sunday. It's a ton of work, but we get a chance to take one day of PTO on friday and cook 2 contests, so we like to do them when we can.
Thanks for reading!
Then brisket at 1:30. This has traditionally been a good category for us, 2nd best overall. However, it has fallen off a little bit at the end of last year, so we tried something new on it as well. flavor and tenderness was good, but it was a touch dry. I'm pretty sure I have an idea of how to fix it, so we'll see this weekend if we did.
Then it was on to pork. Pork has been our best category for the last couple years, followed by brisket. We turn in slices from the "money muscle" as well as some pulled. There are specific parts of the butt that we take our pulled from, as it's always the most tender, juiciest part. It also is from the interior of the butt, which doesn't get any rub, so we have some techniques to get flavor on it such as injections, etc.
I was disappointed in our pulled. What we had and turned in was good, but only one of the butts was able to give us what we were after meaning we were short a bit on it. Enough for 6, just not what I like to turn in so we have a full box. Luckily I had to money muscles that were spot on, so we adjusted our normal presentation a bit to make it look a bit fuller. I kinda like this box, and you may see more of it depending on how I'm feeling that day. I'm sure there will still be plenty of my standard presentation you'll see, though.
Then we moved on to ribs. Rib turn in is at 12:30. These were really good. We adjusted our recipe a little bit from last year, as towards the end of the year they just stopped scoring for some reason. Mixed in a new rub, removed 2 to do something a little simpler, and I thought we were rewarded for that move.
At this point, I neglected to take pictures of much. as I was too busy trying to remember what I was doing and not focused on the picture taking. I'll do better as we go along.
So that said, we'll skip ahead to our turn ins. First up, at noon, is chicken. We cook thighs for competitions, and as with every turn in, the goal is a great presentation, and perfectly tender, flavorful meat. This involves, rubs, sauces, an amount of butter to give anyone heart issues, and a few other tricks we've learned along the way.
There are a few rules around your turn in box and presentation. Garnish, if used, is limited to just a few select greens. The most popular are parsley and kale, but we use kale. You can not have any other objects in the box, or it will be disqualified. You also cannot shape your turn ins in any way that would alert a judge that a turn in was yours. This protects the double blind system that KCBS employs. You also must turn in enough meat for 6 judges to have a sample, and they must be separate, identifiable pieces. Judges are not allowed to cut, tear, etc samples apart for everyone to get a piece. This is an attention to detail piece when turning in ribs, etc, as if you don't get one sliced all the way through, and you only turned in 6, one judge will not be able to give you a score.
Our chicken turned out good. It was maybe a touch under (not unsafe under, but to get the fat rendered properly, and the skin to have the right texture we cook the chicken to a pretty high temp. So it was safe to eat, just still a little chewy. Flavor we thought was spot on, and it looked great.
Well, this weekend brought the beginning of the competition BBQ season for us. We were in Olathe, KS for the Qlathe BBQ Championships, and competing against some of the best teams in the region, 70 in total. It was a chance to kick the rest of the rust off, and try and start to find our groove for the year to come. It is always a great time to get out and see the BBQ family for the first time in a few months, and begin to thaw out from the winter.
We got set up, and all of our meat prepped, and enjoyed the evening hanging out with old friends and making some new ones. Sharing drinks, a fire pit, and laughs. Bed time comes early for me at these events these days, as we make sure we're able to focus and turn in our best products the next day.
Early Saturday morning (4:30 to be exact), we got up and got to work. We season the brisket the night before, but wait until morning to season pork butts. and then we fire up the pits. There seems to be an issue with my picture of the big meats before they go on, so I'll see if I can make that work in another post.
This is shortly after we got the pits lit, looking down our aisle. This time of day you can really see the park starting to come to life, pits getting lit, and people moving around, though still staying to themselves.
@Tex_77 I have tried it. It's good stuff. Those char logs are crazy how hot they get. I thought I was going to melt my grill one time!
I don't really have any complaints about B&B, but to me Royal Oak burns the best, and it's available pretty much everywhere, which is nice when your traveling around the region and may need some in a pinch.
Funny you mention chimneys. Just thinking about that. Ever put a grate on top your chimney and cook it that way? I tried this a couple years back with a 1/2" 8oz ribeye. One minute on each side. Came out perfectly pink inside. Wish I had a pic. Maybe I'll do it tonight. Have one thawing.
@processhead It can be a bit difficult, but I've found a way that generally works well. It's 2 chimneys fully lit, and then just make sure you dump them in a relatively even level. Sometimes I'll take advantage of the hot spots if I have them, and you can use that area to bring things up a little slower.