Hopefully that title got your attention……..
Now that you’re back from doing whatever it was you needed to do to erase the picture of a “clothing optional” BBQ cook off from your brain, here’s my report on the inaugural GO Naked BBQ Show(down) in Greencastle PA. 24 BBQ teams threw down on the backlot at Mason-Dixon BBQ Services in the inaugural “no electric, no propane, no nothing but wood, charcoal and wits” contest organized and hosted by Mr. Eric Forrester. The idea for the competition was to get back to the basics of outdoor live fire cooking, and I think everyone who competed would say it was one of the most enjoyable events they’ve ever done.
I’ll admit I’m a gadget geek, and I dearly love my BBQ Guru temp controllers. But thanks in large part to all the good-natured ribbing I get from certain people (Sal, are you reading this?) I was ready to prove that I can cook it “old school” as well. The format for the contest was a People’s Choice Wings Contest, followed by a MABA (Mid Atlantic BBQ Association) sanctioned chicken and ribs comp. The wings would be judged by the public and the chicken and ribs by the MABA affiliated judges using the KCBS scoring system and MABA rules (i.e. no garnish).
Since I was cooking solo this weekend, I decided to go up Friday morning to park the travel trailer and set up my cook site early. When I pulled up at Mason-Dixon it was cold, windy and drizzly, but Eric assured me Saturday would be warm and sunny. So imagine my surprise when I awoke at 6:00 AM Saturday to rain and 38F. Hey, no problem. As my dad used to say, “you ain’t made out of sugar boy so you won’t melt”.
After the cooks’ meeting I got the WSMs fired up and steady on temp. Despite the low ambient temp and rain all three cookers came up to temp and held beautifully for the duration.
My plan for the wings comp was to use Pork Barrel BBQ All American Spice Rub and Original Sauce plus some “secret” adjuncts. Pork Barrel BBQ makes incredible rub and sauces that are savory crowd pleasers, so that was an easy choice. The wings cook went flawlessly and I turned them in right at 11:30 AM.
For the chicken comp, I went with a completely new (to me anyway ) recipe and prep. After our 3rd place overall finish at Smoketoberfest last October that I attribute to our midpack chicken (23rd out of 48) I decided to give the fair people of Chambersburg something different. Unfortunately, by then my raging cold was playing with my head and I made the very uncharacteristic mistake of putting my chicken on late. I realized the error about 30 minutes in and made the decision to ramp up the temp in attempt to get a thoroughly cooked product. Not a good idea……..
I cooked my standard ribs recipe and prep with the exception of using the same sauce I used on the chicken. No bobbles on the ribs except for my decision to change them to a different better performing smoker. Big thanks to Alex of Philly Underhogs (more on him later) for providing a hand on the swap.
Awards were at 4:00 PM and Degüello BBQ got two calls. Tied for 2nd in the People’s Choice Wings Comp and 3rd Place for our ribs to finish 10th overall out of a field of 24. I was happy with the ribs call because I really didn’t think they were some of my best. The chicken was a big disappointment at 14th, but I know why it didn’t hit on the tenderness. No idea why the taste scores suffered, though. Maybe I should’ve used the Pork Barrel rub and sauce I used in the wings comp. Hey, there’s an idea……
The overall competition, however, was utterly dominated by Alex Covrljan and Al Do of Philly Underhogs. Head Cook Alex and documentarian Al arrived shortly before the cooks’ meeting at 8:00 AM, set up their site and proceeded to cook some off the chain chicken and ribs. After they took 1st in both categories the overall finish was a foregone conclusion. Thanks for sharing with me guys, and you absolutely deserved the win. Oh and I got all of your secrets thanks to Al’s pronouncement that your sauce was “too sweet” and my refined palate. Well, that and I shigged you like crazy all day.