Meat Rushmore BBQ Competition BBQ thread
Well, it seemed like there was some interest in following along with us this year, so I’m going to start this post and add to it as we go through the season.
To start, a little background on the team. There’s 5 of us - myself, my wife, and 3 other guys - who all were athletes at various levels when we were younger. As we got older and fatter, playing soccer, basketball and football were becoming less of a possibility at a competitive level, and were looking for an outlet for that competitive spirit.
So, in 2012, we signed up to compete in the American Royal World Series of BBQ. This is the largest BBQ competition in the world, drawing teams from Europe, Asia, and all over North America to compete here in KC for a world championship. We didn’t think we’d do anything like win that our first time out, and we were excited to have a weekend with the boys (plus my wife) and hang out and have some beers while making food.
Well, we didn’t win. We didn’t come close. But we did beat 20% of the field and had an absolute blast doing it. We decided to keep going forward and do a few more of these the next year.
Fast forward to today, and we have evolved. We realized there’s a lot cheaper ways to drink beer with your friends, and that if we wanted to keep doing these things we needed to get serious about it, or quit. We chose to get serious. We have been that way for about 3 years now, and we finished last year ranked 24th overall in the world, and 8th in pork, and in the top 20 in brisket and ribs, and top 50 in chicken #frickenchicken
So I’ll be chronicling our adventures this year, which already is promising to be interesting. I did a steak contest last weekend, and we have our first BBQ comp this weekend, and a double the weekend after. After that the next 5 we were scheduled to do have either moved their date, or postponed still due to the pandemic (no comment). I wonder if some of them are looking for a reason to not do it, but I also know that a lot of these are put on by either non-profits or city parks departments, etc, and none of them can really afford the bad press that comes with holding a food contest during a pandemic and then people potentially getting sick. Plus, many rely on the public turnout to turn a profit, so I get it.
In the next post, I will recap the steak contest I cooked last weekend, including some pics. Thank you to everyone who reads a follows along, and if you want to hit us up on the socials we are @meatrushmorebbq on everything, but mainly Facebook and Instagram.
Last weekend the American Royal put on their first ever Backyard BBQ competition, and steak cookoff. Backyard competitions are typically 2 meat affairs (chicken and ribs), and are a great way for people to get their feet wet in competition bbq without feeling like they are going up against the “big boys.” We do not qualify for a backyard contest, as we’ve done too many of the “master series” or “pro” competitions, and won too much. However, the steak contest was open to all, so I paid the entry fee and went down to Hale Arena in KC to cook some steak, and try and win some cash.
Cooked the steaks on my PK Grills TX, with Grill Grates over Royal Oak briquettes (we always use RO charcoal, it’s my favorite charcoal - and I’ve tried a lot of them). Steak contests are nice, because the meat is provided, it’s a short, one day cook, and who doesn’t want to eat some steak? Usually, the steak you’re given is a ribeye, and you draw for what order you pick your steaks in. It then works as a snake draft, so if you get the first pick, you get the last pick for your second steak. Right in the middle is generally where you want to be. You can get a pretty good steak the first time, and they’re not all picked over the second.
I got the final pick in the first round, which means I got back to back picks. Instead of ribeyes, these were strip steaks. I’m not going lie - I don’t really eat strip steaks. I rarely go out for steaks, and if I’m cooking one at home, I’m not going to let the $3 or whatever a ribeye might cost more than a strip deter me from buying what I really want. It had been years since I cooked a strip. I wasn’t super confident in what I was going to do, but I put a plan together.
I got some of the exterior fat trimmed off, and got it into a shape I thought would cook more evenly. I then whipped up a marinade with Beef Consume, some spices, and a tenderizer and let that set for a bit. I then rubbed it, and got the fire going.
Cooked the first, practice steak, and overshot the doneness just a tad after carryover, so I backed it down a couple degrees in order to keep it more moist and tender.
Then it was boxing time. This is where my wife is Queen. She sees things that I just never pick up on and is able to make those adjustments to make sure that we are presenting the best looking entry we can.
AND…off to turn ins
Then we got to relax and wait for awards. Ended up taking home 3rd place, which I was happy with. I didn’t feel as comfortable with the strip as I would have been a ribeye, and I don’t think I nailed tenderness. The judges mostly agreed giving me good, but not great scores in tenderness though they all really liked the taste and appearance.
Next up is BBQ in Olathe KS this weekend!
glen Regular Contributors Team Grey Sous Vide Canning Dry Cured Sausage Masterbuilt Power User Meat Hack Winner last edited by
Midwest_kc The Beef Consume is a great tip, I use that a lot
Looks like you’re off to a good start
Congrats on your award. Thanks for sharing the story from the competition.
Congrats on 3rd place. Awesome! Now a question. Do they look at grill marks as part of the appearance? I know a lot of people do this but… I’ve always looked at this as, grill marks = burnt meat. Perhaps just a personal thing.
They do look at it as part of the appearance, but they are not required - basically, do they make the steak look better, or not. The marks certainly CAN be burned, and if they are they may not hurt appearance, but the bitter taste it gives off will certainly hurt the taste score, which is the highest weighted score.
I prefer a properly seared steak, myself, but the margin for error to do that in a competition is razor thin. You have to keep the color even, and then have it cooked evenly, and if you do get a little burnt piece that may be a touch bitter, you’re not going to luck out and have them try a bite that is in between the marks. I am going to be working on my sear technique and try to get it down because, honestly, it’s better in my opinion. I just have to even out my color.
Trying to get an even sear over a charcoal flame means getting your heat consistent across the grill. Sometimes that can be a challenge for me. It looked like that picture of your fire was pretty even as far as the coal-color.
Thanks for the reply. Have always been curious about that.
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.
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.
Tex_77 Team Blue Power User Traeger Primo Grills PK Grills Canning Sous Vide Community Moderator last edited by
Midwest_kc I saw that you like Royal Oak charcoal, have you tried B&B charcoal? If so what were your thoughts on it?
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.
PapaSop I have never tried that, but I know people who have. There’s a group of guys on the steak circuit who do it that way in contests. They call themselves the chimney cartel.
Tex_77 Team Blue Power User Traeger Primo Grills PK Grills Canning Sous Vide Community Moderator last edited by
Midwest_kc I have char logs on my list of stuff to try. I agree B&B can be hard to find.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!