Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Arkansas continued...

Charlie put the ribs on earlier in the morning and they were looking good, the briskets seemed to be cooking on their normal schedule. At this point it was my job to get the chicken ready to go on the cooker and prep some sauces and marinades/flavorizers we use during our cooking process. Things were going smoothly after I prepped the chicken so I decided it was time to start rattling the neighbors.I find a camera always helps to put people on edge. I hit the Pellet Envy site to our left and the Transformers to the right. Poor Julie and Brendan had a number of people pushing their buttons during one step of their rib process. It was pretty funny from my vantage point.

Brent Richardson volunteered to help us out for the day so I put him on Garnish duty with Carmen and Carlotta. Appearance doesn't count as much as taste and tenderness but it can be the difference between winning a contest and coming in second place. I knew I could trust Brent because he's been cooking bbq with his mom and The Slabs since he was knee high to a grasshopper. He's even competed on his own and has a very distinguished record in Kids Q events.

The next couple of hours of the event are a blur. Chicken on, ribs wrapped, brisket off, ribs off, chicken turn in etc... Brent was a big help in doing the box presentation. He helped us strategically place parsley to get the best look, and he even helped Charlie and I with the tasting of the entries and the adjustment of spices. I was happy with 3 out of our 4 entries, the brisket I knew was a bit overcooked. Maybe I should have taken them off the cooker when I took the Butts
off but they didn't seem done to me at that point. Oh well live and learn. I had 3 briskets, maybe I should have taken them off in stages. In the early part of the season you need to get a feel for things, your instincts get a little rusty. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it)

After turn in it's time for cleanup. I Smell Smoke is usually one of the last teams to leave an event but we had early flights in the morning and Charlie and Carlotta needed to get back on the road so we bucked up and got the job done in record time. In fact the wait for awards seemed to take forever.

At the awards ceremony we ended up next to the Illinois contingent of cooks. The night before they had stopped by our sight for a drink and the Smack Talk was rolling. The subject of Jack Qualifiers came up and they seemed to be of the opinion it was easy for a New England team to qualify because we had and I quote "Little contests with only one qualifier in a state". I'm not really big on the Smack talk thing before I've even cooked my food and turned it in so I just let their comments roll off my back. I figured we'd see who had the right to talk Smack after the award ceremony.

We placed 14th in Chicken ($150), 19th in Ribs ($100), 18th in Pork($100) and 8th Overall ($700), so the bulk of our expenses were covered. If we can break close to even on a big contest like this we are very happy. I overcooked the Brisket and it placed 47th, if I had not done that we were definitely in the running for Grand champ being one of only a few teams that got 3 calls to the stage. We only got beat by 1 Illinois team and I don't remember them talking smack at my site, at least not to me.

We had a lot of fun and I'm sure we'll make the trip again next year (if I can get Charlie and Carlotta to drive again).

This weekend we will be competing in the Snowshoe Grilling challenge in Abington MA.


I QUE said...

"Little contests with only one qualifier in a state"

We've had teams from all over the country come up to New England for contests... I can't remember a single one of 'em winning...

Nice job Steve

Anonymous said...

Good job Steve. And thanks for the cheering section!


ULIKA BBQ said...

great recap