On July 13-14, Degüello BBQ competed in the inaugural BBQ Skirmish in Gettysburg PA. We’d been looking forward to this competition for almost a year. As many of you who follow my Facebook posts know, my great-great grandfather William Elias Rudd was captured at Little Round Top on July 2, 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg, so I have a direct connection to the area. With that motivation, we were hoping for a good finish. Unfortunately, however, the drama involving our purchase/return of a new truck left us without a way to tow our trailer to the event so our participation in the cook-off was looking very uncertain. Fortunately, however, our friend Mike Fay generously offered to tow the Work and Play up to Gettysburg, which allowed us to compete (I rented a U-Haul and towed his Spicewine in return). For our team, drama seems to bring with it good results and this weekend was no exception. With 48 teams competing, Degüello took 5th place in ribs, 9th place in pork and 4th place overall. The 3Eyz juggernaut continued to roll with another GC, and the Smokin’ Gnome Sal Gobat took RGC.
With the historic location and venue, this competition has a lot of potential to grow. But unless there is a tremendous amount of improvement in how it is run, we are not coming back next year. There are other, ongoing discussions on the problems with the event, so I will not rehash all of them. I will say that the extremely late setup starting time, failure to mark a large ditch on the event grounds that caused a serious mishap with one competitor’s trailer, almost total lack of any infrastructure at load in, no electricity until almost dark on Friday and the disaster that was the awards ceremony left us with a bad feeling about the whole weekend. I actually emailed the organizer post-event to offer some well-meaning observations and suggestions for 2013. The fact that he never responded tells me a lot about how much stock he put in my input. Too bad, because I am probably in the minority of 2012 competitors that are willing to give this event another shot in 2013. And truthfully, if it wasn’t the 150th anniversary of the battle next year, this would be a one and done for us. Dan, I’m still waiting to hear from you, and if you do read this and respond I’ll be happy to acknowledge your reply.
Here’s the contest rundown:
Chicken: 11th out of 48 (161.7144)
Wagshal’s chicken was once again excellent, and this was our third comp cook in the Backwoods Extended Party. But this was Pennsylvania, the state where we have never gotten a chicken call, not to mention the absolute worst chicken finish in the history of our team. Our Palmyra chicken was a bit less tender than I like, so I turned up the heat on the Extended Party a bit this week and we got much better tenderness. But again, this was Pennsylvania, and the chicken drought continues as we finished barely out of the top 10.
Ribs: 5th out of 48 (164.5710)
Ribs are back on track. The Wagshal’s heritage pork spares are consistently excellent, and with this third cook on the Extended Party I’ve got the timing and temp down cold for this ribs/cooker combination. No need to go with just six bones this time as we had plenty of great product to choose from. We are very happy with the ribs, and if we can keep the top five call streak going I’ll be very satisfied.
Pork: 9th out of 48 (164.5710)
After the Palmyra pork result, we tasted a lot of leftovers from different parts of the shoulder and picked up a slightly “off ” taste from the more heavily injected pieces. For this comp, therefore, I decided to simplify the injection. We had a smooth uneventful cook, I detected none of the “off” taste I got from the Palmyra pork, and we had a much better outcome. I’m encouraged by this result, but no way do I feel we are on track yet. This category continues to be the most “consistently inconsistent” of the four, and I’m not done tweaking the recipe or presentation.
Brisket: 16th out of 48 (157.7142)
I need to review my blog entries for the previous comp before I cook. Our Palmyra brisket was a touch overdone, and in the Palmyra recap I wrote “Moving forward, I really need to trust the feel of the brisket a little more and worry less about absolute internal temperature” (Memo to self: read and heed my own advice). I was too worried about temp and not enough about feel, and once again I overcooked our brisket and paid the price. A good-tasting brisket that crumbles at the edges isn’t going to score well.
Another top five finish for Degüello BBQ, but as always some lessons were learned the hard way, this week on brisket. Next up is our closest to home competition of the year, the second annual Bluemont BBQ Bash in Bluemont VA on July 27-28.
Jefferson Davis, President CSA
Pam the Butcher does a great job prepping our chicken
Brisket looking good at 6:30 AM
What the well-dressed pitmaster’s assistant is wearing this season
We are very fortunate to have Wagshal’s and Draper’s BBQ as sponsors
The $25 money shot. And yes we will take it!