On May 4-5, Degüello BBQ competed in the second annual Naptown barBAYq in Annapolis MD. For 2012 the event was moved to the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds in Crownsville, a nice upgrade from last year’s venue. This was our first full KCBS competition for 2012, and it was the first chance to see how our off-season changes would work. Over the winter I worked on adapting WSM cooking techniques for our new Backwoods Extended Party smoker, scoped out some new meat suppliers, and made several recipe changes. Unfortunately, on Sunday night I cut a bad gash in my hand trying to stuff a grill pan inside a cooler. After a visit to the ER in Fairfax, I came home with five stitches right along the first joint of my left index finger.
Since I’m left-handed, I was not looking forward to cooking Naptown with a hand that was swollen, painful and not particularly functional. And to top it off, I was scheduled to cook for judges’ school on Thursday before the comp so I’d basically be doing back to back four-category cooks with about one and a half hands. If you’re wondering how bad it was, here’s a photo:
Going into the weekend, we had lots of new things that could work to our advantage (or go horribly wrong), and I had to be careful not to re-injure my hand. For the most part, though, things went right. With 41 teams competing, Degüello BBQ took 2nd place in brisket, 9th place in ribs and 5th place overall. Congratulations to Chix Swine & Bovine on their GC. And a special thanks to Mike for lending a huge hand in cooking for judges’ school on Thursday. If he hadn’t brought the Lang 60 and pitched in on the chicken and ribs I’d have been in trouble. And a big shout out to Jeff Burkett and Smokis Porkis for their 3rd place overall finish. I know you guys have been working really hard, and it was great to see all your efforts paying off.
Here’s the contest rundown:
Chicken: 13th out of 41 (160.0000)
For 2012 I’ve tweaked my recipe, cooking process and decided to try a new chicken source. My only complaint about the chicken is that the pieces we on the small side. I liked the taste and tenderness and it looked dynamite as well. After turn-in it’s in the judges’ hands, so I can live with that. I am confident in our recipe and presentation, so no changes moving forward.
Ribs: 9th out of 41 (164.0000)
I was actually a little disappointed with our ribs. There is “good”, “great” and “OMG” and these were probably in the “good” category. Tenderness was not quite where I wanted it, but taste and appearance were spot-on. Happy to get a call as it guaranteed we would not get shut out.
Pork: 23rd out of 41 (150.8572)
Ah “schizophrenic pork” I have missed you! I had two butts on the top and bottom racks of the BWS and two on the top rack of my 18″ WSM. I noticed my WSM was running unusually hot, and after checking to insure the barrel was properly seated in the base I chalked it up to a full load of charcoal and turned in. When I checked the WSM at 6:00 AM, I found two butts that looked more like meteorites than tasty pork. When I picked one up it peeled away and left a layer of blackened crust on the grate. Hey no problem; I still had butts in the BWS. Except when I opened the BWS the top rack pork was shriveled and black as well. If I had been less tired I would’ve made our box from the pork on the bottom rack of the BWS. I didn’t, of course, and the dark appearance, concentrated (i.e. salty) taste and not tender pork landed mid-pack. I later found I’d knocked the WSM water pan off its tabs, and instead of indirect smoking I’d direct grilled. As for the BWS, I got advice to never use the very top rack due to the refractive and concentrated smoke in that space. I can fix these issues and I will for our next comp.
Brisket: 2nd out of 41 (169.7144)
Brisket was totally on, and I’m very happy about that. This was a new recipe, cooking technique and meat source, so lots of variables in play. My goal this year is to strive for cleaner flavors across four categories, and my brisket has undergone the biggest change from last year. It was perfectly cooked, looked great and it tasted like beef. If anything, I left appearance points on the table as I decided against trimming my slices to fit the box and I had to scrunch them in. I was glad the judges liked the taste and tenderness and didn’t punish us too much for appearance.
This was a great way to start the 2012 season, and Don Chomas did another outstanding job organizing a superb event. Keep the comps coming and we’ll be back Don! Next up for Degüello BBQ is the Middletown BBQ Cook-off on May 18-19 in Middletown DE.
That’s 96 thighs, 24 drumsticks and six whole breasts in the Lang 60!
6:30 AM brisket