On July 22-23, Degüello BBQ competed in the second annual Holy Smoke Barbeque Championshipin Easton, MD. The week prior to this event, I had just returned from a ten-day business trip to India, and truth be told, I was dragging. Coupled with a five-week competition layoff and a forecast for record-breaking heat and humidity I was a little concerned about how we’d respond. Turns out there wasn’t too much to worry about. 33 teams competed in this event, and Degüello BBQ took 3rd overall with our first ever four-call comp: 9th place chicken, 3rd place ribs, 2nd place pork, and 9th place brisket. Congratulations to Chix Swine and Bovine on GC and Christmas City BBQ for the RGC. And big congrats to Neil Pappalardo and Grand Slam BBQ for their first ever call in a KCBS (8th place chicken). Neil it was a pleasure meeting your family and I look forward to seeing you out there again and hearing more calls for Grand Slam in the future. We had absolutely brutal weather conditions, with Friday’s temperature reaching 105F and the heat index was an unbearable 124F. Even with an air conditioned trailer refuge, this was a really tough weekend.
Here’s the contest rundown:
Chicken: 9th out of 33 (164.5714)
After our 2nd place finish at Swinetastic last month, I didn’t change a thing. The placing was a little lower, but I was still pleased with how our chicken came out. I did make one small error that may have impacted the final product. I cook my chicken on the same 18″ WSM I use to cook pork, and about 15-30 minutes before I put on my chicken I pull off pork and crank up the BBQ Guru DigiQ to my higher chicken cooking temp. However, I forgot to watch the temp on the Guru and when I did check it was still 30 degrees low. A quick check revealed that I was pretty much out of charcoal. I had to break down the WSM/load in new fuel/get it lit up and stabilized, and I didn’t quite succeed in the ten minutes I had before I had to put on chicken. The WSM gradually came up to temp over the first 20 minutes of the cook, but the real problem was the excess white smoke I put on the chicken for that period. The chicken still tasted great, with excellent tenderness and superb appearance. Just not quite as good as Swinetastic.
Ribs: 3rd out of 33 (173.1428)
I was very happy with these ribs, particularly because I had a temp issue on the 22″ WSM early in the cook that put a little excess smoke on the racks. I kept a close eye on the ribs due to the temp fluctuations during the cook, and based on feel I pulled them a little early. I think this was a good idea as I had two perfectly cooked racks to pull from. Glad the judges liked them.
Pork: 2nd out of 33 (172.5714)
This was the breakthrough I’ve been looking for. I made a few little tweaks in injection and rub/sauce application, and I cooked an extra butt as an “insurance policy”. Don’t know if it was one change or a combination of all, but I knew as soon as we started working on the box we had some dynamite pork. We’ll do exactly what we did in Easton this coming weekend.
Brisket: 9th out of 33 (161.7142)
Finally, our first brisket call in 2011. I’ve been trying to figure out what was keeping our scores low after three calls last year (including a 1st in Shrewsbury), and I decided to emulate our 2010 process exactly, right down to the technique I used to wrap the brisket. I also had two nicely aged briskets, and I am sure that helped. My only error in prep was in slicing. I could have done a much better job cutting uniformly sized slices, and I suspect the thicker slices hurt our tenderness scores. Nevertheless, I’m happy to get back on track in this category.
Two consecutive 3rd place overall finishes tells me we’re on the right track. But something is keeping us just out of the running for that first big finish. I can’t blame the weather because everyone else was cooking in the exact same horrid conditions.
I think it’s coming down to the really little things, like not refueling the WSM soon enough and maintaining uniformity of my brisket slices. Somehow I doubt the folks that are winning make those little slips, so we’ll keeping learning and striving for mistake-free cooks. Next up for Degüello BBQ is the Bluemont BBQ Bash in Bluemont VA on July 29-30.
105F. What can I say about that?
It was almost 101F inside the “air conditioned” judges’ tent during the cooks’ meeting
The chicken looked really nice on the WSM.
Really proud of this 2nd place pork call
Our first four-call competition