This weekend we competed in the first annual Middletown BBQ Cookoff in Middletown DE. The event was organized by Mose Zook of the Dutch Country Farmers Market. Mose, Ben and the rest of the crew put on a super comp, and we had a great time. The big news, however, is that in our second KCBS competition ever, we got calls in three of the four categories and finished third overall. Big congratulations to Black Cat BBQ and Flying Porkers for their Grand Championship and Reserve Grand Championship respectively. But in our wildest dreams, we never expected an outcome like this. Here’s the rundown:
Chicken: 3rd out of 42
I was very happy with the way the chicken came out. For Middletown I changed our chicken source and it paid off big time. Great texture and “almost” perfect bite through skin. As was the case with all our meats, I trimmed the chicken on site since we didn’t have time to do so before the event. It seemed to work out OK though.
Ribs: 21st out of 42
Our worst category for the second time in a row. After the awful ribs I cooked at Pork In The Park last month, this was a better outcome. Even so, I was still disappointed. One thing I need to do is pay more attention when selecting ribs to cook. My racks had lots of curved bones and they were on the short side, too. Appearance and tenderness scores were correspondingly on the lower side, and I got one comment card saying ribs were “overdone”. I think the biggest issue with the ribs, though, was cooking temp. For some reason, my smoker temp spiked up to 300F and I had a very difficult time getting it back down to my target temp of 275F. Coupled with the fact my ribs were on the small side, it’s not surprising they came out a little overdone. I’ve got a month until the Safeway National Capital BBQ Battle to work on this category, and I intend to fix what went wrong.
Pork: 6th out of 42
I really thought this was our best meat. The taste and tenderness were superb, and I thought the presentation was quite nice too. As was the case with the ribs, though, the pork may have been a wee bit overdone as I had a little difficulty cutting the money muscle. But still it was pretty spot on. I actually forgot to put on my finishing rub, and maybe that would’ve bumped the taste scores up a bit. But these are little things. It was pretty spot on and I was happy with it.
Brisket: 3rd out of 42
This was the meat I was the most unsure about, but it turned out there was no need to worry. I really think the biggest contributor to the outcome was the brisket I got at Central Meats in Chesapeake VA. Rich selected two beautiful USDA Prime packers for me with thick flats and awesome points, and they were wet aged 47 days by the day of the event. I cooked these on my new 22.5″ WSM with the Cajun Bandit stainless steel door, high flow charcoal ring and BBQ Guru CyberQ II. I set up my laptop so I could see it from the bedroom window of our new Gulfstream Visa trailer, and when I woke up at 6:05 AM I was able to peek out and see the temp was right at 275F. The WSM/Guru combo really takes the worry out of the overnight cooks. Since it’s just the two of us, we don’t have the luxury of a night pit crew. The Guru gives me peace of mind that I won’t wake up to an unpleasant surprise in the morning.
So this was a really good weekend for Degüello BBQ. One last contributor to our success I want to mention is the Pellet Envy class we took three weeks ago. I generally knew what I was doing, but Rod has helped me reduce/simplify my prep time and tweak my flavor profiles. Thanks Rod and Sherry!