Last weekend, Degüello BBQ competed in the inaugural Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour Local Qualifier in Chesapeake VA. With 25 teams competing, we finished 8th in chicken, 13th in ribs, 2nd in pork, 11th in brisket and 7th overall. Most importantly, our 7th place finish allows us to advance to the Regional Final in Laurel MD on Sept. 30-Oct. 1. Weather conditions were miserable, with constant rain from late Friday through awards. Although the weather was unpleasant, it actually a good thing to experience it here since we may see rain again this year. Here’s the contest rundown:
Chicken: 8th out of 25 (166.2858)
I will take this result, as I fully expected to see us at the bottom of this category today. Recently I’ve not been sampling our chicken, but today I decided to try it. The first piece I sampled had rubbery skin. Concerned, I decided to try another piece, and it was only slightly less rubbery. Now I was definitely worried. I decided to try one more piece, and it was noticeably better. Based on the tasting, I decided to put all small pieces in the box, on the assumption that the smaller ones had a better chance of having good skin/tenderness. The downside of using small pieces was that they may be less moist, but I decided that moister meat would not trump a judge taking a bite of one of my thighs and getting a “chicken skin soul patch”. It appears that the small pieces box was the right call.
Ribs: 13th out of 25 (156.5714)
Just prior to taking the ribs out of the smoker, I had a near disaster that would’ve ruined our day for sure. As I walked out to pull the ribs, Sharon said “Oh my, look at the canopy!!!” The canopy had filled with water and was bending from the weight. Most disturbing, the panel directly above the WSM holding the ribs was so full it was almost touching the top of the smoker. I VERY delicately dumped the water out of the canopy and successfully removed the ribs without dousing them and the smoker. As for the end product, I thought they were quite good, but the mid-pack finish tells me I may have been a little optimistic. As always, I had temp issues early on, though, so I may not have gotten the ribs cooked quite enough.
Pork: 2nd out of 25 (169.1428)
And just as quickly as pork had apparently fallen off the table, we hit big again. Although I was very confused why we’d had two bad pork results in a row, I was convinced that those results had little to do with our prep. I did think that maybe the PA judge pool don’t prefer our flavors, but even so I was not ready to make wholesale changes to our flavor profile. Good thing we stayed the course, because this call was what probably got us through to the next round of the Sam’s Club Series. We stuck with the presentation we’ve used all summer and made one small tweak to our ingredients (thanks to a certain unnamed neighbor). A very welcome and needed result.
Brisket: 11th out of 25 (157.1426)
Disappointing result here, but there were a LOT of good brisket cooks in attendance this weekend, and I am certain they all brought their “A Games”. If I had anything to say about our brisket this weekend, I’d say it was a wee bit lacking in flavor and I did a below average job with the knife and got unevenly sized slices.
We’re happy to advance to the Regional Final in Laurel. However, we are going to have to put everything together to have any chance of advancing to the Finals in Bentonville. I counted more than 15 teams coming to Laurel that I feel have a legitimate shot at taking the top prize, so there is really zero room for a bad category. We’ve had some good performances this summer, so we’ll do our best and be happy with the outcome this weekend. Consistency, consistency, consistency………..
2nd Place Pork!