Middletown? More like “Middle of the Pack”

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On May 18-19, Degüello BBQ competed in the third annual Middletown BBQ Cook Off in Middletown DE.  For 2012 the event was moved from parking lot of the Dutch Country Farmers Market to Frightland Amusement Park on the outskirts of town.  Unfortunately, our performance this year was not particularly amusing.

After our strong showing in the inaugural event in 2010 (see here for the writeup on that day) we were looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2011 MIddletown finish.  That was not to be on this day, though.  With 52 teams competing, Degüello BBQ finished 18th place chicken, 22nd place ribs, 18th place pork and 18th place brisket for an overall 14th place.

Somedays you know you didn’t cook your best, and when that happens it’s a little easier to take.  But I was really disappointed with our results on this day as I felt we had a good, solid cook.  Days like this happen, so we look at what we did, try to fix anything that didn’t go well and move on.  Congrats to Paul Huff of Gone Hoggin’ for getting this GC and punching his ticket to the Jack.  He was so tweaked at Middletown in 2010 he shaved off his beard, and I’m not sure what he did in 2011 (but I know it wasn’t celebrating because we both finished in the teens last year).  I guess they won’t have to rename that highway out in Tennessee for another year buddy:

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And huge thanks to Wagshal’s for providing us with some incredible meats for MIddletown.  We wish we’d done a better job for you guys the first time out, but I am confident you’ll be hearing our names again soon.

Here’s the contest rundown:

Chicken: 18th out of 52 (162.8572)

This was the absolute biggest disappointment of the day.  I know when we cook good chicken, and this was some really good chicken.  Appearance, was, well, take a look on the WSM and judge for yourself:

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Taste and tenderness were a cut above our Naptown chicken, too.  But like I said in Naptown after turn-in it’s in the judges’ hands, and I have to live with that.  I am still very confident in our recipe and preparation, so no changes there.  I got some good feedback on our box presentation and garnish, and after giving it some thought I believe we’re leaving appearance points on the table, which may be affecting out taste and tenderness scores in turn.

Ribs:  22nd out of 52 (153.1428)

Another batch of good, not great, ribs this weekend.  If I had to compare these to our 9th place Naptown ribs I’d say they were about the same, which isn’t what I’ve come to expect in this category.  I felt I actually had a few more choices this weekend, but we didn’t fare as well I’d hoped.  No changes moving forward.

Pork: 22nd out of 52 (152.5712)

This was the one category that worried me this weekend.  For the first time in my competition BBQ career, after sorting through our pork I was really worried we might not have enough acceptable pieces to fill the box.  This was very surprising, as all our pork was right on temp and felt good going into the Carlisle.  After a lot of sorting and some creative placement we got an acceptable amount for our box.  It actually wasn’t too bad, but not my best pork either.  In my opinion this score most closely matched my assessment.  I’ll keep a much closer eye on the pork moving forward to insure we have enough well-done pork for pulled/chunks.

Brisket: 18th out of 52 (156.0000)

Another puzzling finish.  After we nailed brisket two weeks ago at Naptown I didn’t change a thing in recipe or prep, but we used a different brisket source.  As in Naptown, I felt our brisket was perfectly cooked, looked great and it tasted like beef.  Actually, it had a slightly more intense beefy flavor than two weeks before.  I had trimmed our flats to make sure they fit the boxes, and I felt this was a much better looking presentation.  But my assessment and the judges did not agree, so we didn’t have finish we’d hoped for.  I’m wondering if I need to dial back the “intensity”of flavor to account for our new beef.  We’re very happy with the tenderness and flavor of the beef itself,so maybe a little less rub and injection flavor is a better fit.

After a hot start to 2012, we cooled off a little in Middletown.  That’s OK though.  We’ll make some adjustments and come back strong.  Next up for Degüello BBQ is the Swinetastic BBQ Festival on June 15-16 in Frederick MD.


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Prime Brisket from Wagshal’s- it doesn’t get any better than this!

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Pork at 6:30 AM
Published in: on June 2, 2012 at 1:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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