Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Winter Sizzler

Well the first contest of 07 is in the bag and I'm thrilled with the results. We competed against 14 other hardy teams at the First Annual Winter Sizzler in Lincoln NH where temperatures reached a low of about 15 degrees which is pretty warm for the White Mountains in January.

All the teams set up camp on Saturday and started prepping their meats for the contest which would be judged Sunday afternoon. We also cooked up a bunch of wings for a contest Saturday Night. A panel of 12 judges sampled all the entries and all of the leftovers were shared with the general public.

After all our contest meats were prepped and turned in it was time to wander around and socialize with the other teams. The Lunchmeat crowd had a 200,000 btu propane heater under a 10x20 tent and it was like a sauna in there. There were a many types of heating devices from propane burners to outdoor fireplaces and everybody was prepared for the cold weather. If you live in New England you know how to protect yourself from the cold. One of the people that we talked with told us when he first started competing he was very intimidated by us and wasn’t sure if we were approachable. That gave me a good chuckle. We’ve had quite a bit of success in the past few years but we’re still just a bunch of knuckleheads out to have a good time. Anyone should feel free to come on up and say hi. We won’t bite your head off and we love talking Q with anybody and everybody. It may take a few times for me to remember your name but it’s not because I’m stuck up it’s just I’m bad with names.

The night went smoothly and we actually had a motel room close by and we snuck back there for a few hours of warmth and sleep. We’ve reached a point where we can really trust our Backwoods to just chug along all night and do what it’s supposed to. It’s a wonderful thing to get a shower the day of the contest. It doesn’t happen often so you really appreciate it when it does.

Charlie got up at 5:30 am and put the ribs in then grabbed a couple of hours sleep out in the trailer. We had a small propane heater in there and it warmed the trailer up enough to make it bearable. We stumbled back to camp one by one after our turn in the shower. Doug and Carlotta had coffee and donuts ready for us by the time I made it back. We got about a half inch of snow overnight and it really made the contest sight very scenic. I think I would have felt robbed if we didn’t get snow for a contest in January.

This contest was different from the normal contests we compete in because there were five categories that counted towards Grand Champ instead of the normal four. We had the usual Chicken, Ribs, Pork and brisket and the fifth category was Red Chili No beans. We’ve all cooked chili before but never in a contest. Doug brought along a killer recipe and I brought some excellent chili powder that I purchased in Texas earlier in the year. When I sampled the chili I knew it was good but maybe a little spicy for the judges. But hey it was cold and snowing, a little spice might make the day more comfortable. Here’s how we placed in each category:

5th Chicken
3rd Ribs
3rd Pork
1st Brisket
2nd Chili

And yup you guessed it Grand Champion. Last year was an awesome year for us and I can only hope that this contest is a sign of things to come for this year. Win or lose we’ll try our best and always have a good time. If you can’t have fun why do it right ?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Preparing for the Winter Sizzler

The team will be competing in Lincoln NH this weekend at the first annual Winter Sizzler Barbecue Competition. When the event was first planned we were expecting temperatures in the 5 degree range but it looks like we could end up with temps in the mid 30's. It's been a strange winter or is that non-winter.

Our large cuts of meat have been purchased and trimmed. Doug is shopping for Garnish, miscelaneous seasonings, snacks for the weekend and possibly something to make for dinner and breakfast. Charlie is gathering firewood to keep us warm, loading up tables and a grill, a gas burner to light charcoal, make chili, and heat water. Hopefully Carlotta is making jello shots. Pat will do some shopping at the package store for us. I have to go to Costco for Ribs, Chicken thighs, Chicken wings, paper towels and aluminum pans. I need to make some injections and gather up all the rubs and sauces that I removed from the trailer for the winter. Clean my cooler and cooker load charcoal and pellets. It's a lot of work getting ready for a bbq competition. This is about the time I put my hands on my head and say why am I doing this.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ribs 2 ways

I cooked 7 racks of ribs for the Pats game this past weekend. 4 racks of spares and 3 racks of baby backs. I cooked the spares the way I would cook competition ribs which I'm not going to post on this blog, however my team and I will be offering competition bbq classes sometime in the spring if you want to learn how we make them.

I set out to cook the baby back ribs using a recipe I found on the Minnesota Pork Board website, it's the one titled Asian Spiced Baby backs with Honey-Miso Glaze. I made the rub as directed and put the ribs on the cooker then headed out to the Super 88 Market to find the rest of the ingredients. Big mistake. I guess it's always wise to get the ingredients together before attempting a recipe. Since I normally don't follow recipes this was a lesson for me. So what's a guy to do in this situation ? Buy some of the ingredients and hope it tastes ok or buy a commercial sauce that just might do the trick ? I chose the latter. I bought Lee Kum Kee Korean bbq sauce for $1.99 and boy am I glad I did.

I cooked the ribs at 275 degrees in my FE100 pellet cooker. I cooked them for three hours and then wrapped the ribs in foil with some apple juice and Honey and cooked them for one more hour. I then finished the ribs on a hot grill flipping and saucing them several times to get some nice camelization of the sauce. I gotta tell you these were some of the best ribs I've ever had. I'll be making these again in the near future I'm sure.

Pork Butt Report

Yes you can cook 150lbs of pork in an FE100. No it's not the wisest thing in the world to do especially if you have other cookers you can use in conjuction. I loaded 5 butts per shelf and staggered them so I had some airflow in the cooker. The large mass of meat took several hours longer then a normal butt cook for me. I had to move the shelves around several times to get the butts to cook evenly and in the end I had to wrap the butts in foil to get them done in a reasonable amount of time. The end product was excellent but it took a lot of work to get them where I wanted them.