Sam’s Club Pleasantville NJ: Running Aground on the Jersey Shore

On August 24-25, Degüello BBQ competed in the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour Qualifier in Pleasantville NJ.  This was our first foray into New Jersey and also the furthest north we’d ever competed.  With the Mason-Dixon Line firmly in our rear-view mirror, we were tempting BBQ fate.  But we’ve got to cook where the competition is, and so we came to the outskirts of Atlantic City to try and secure a spot in this year’s regional final in Chesapeake VA.  Alas, our big meat slump continued and the Sam’s Club journey ran aground on the Jersey Shore.  With 30 teams in the mix, Degüello BBQ took 5th place chicken, 7th place ribs, 17th place pork, 19th place brisket and 10th place overall.  We also managed to pull a 3rd place in the Tyson’s Best Wings on the Planet comp with some tasty product.  Many thanks to Shane Draper of Draper’s BBQ for providing us with a fabulous recipe.  And wow what a thrill to be standing right next to our friends Heath Hall and Brett Thompson of Pork Barrel BBQ as they took the GC.  I wish I’d had a camera to capture the look on Heath’s face when Troy Black made the call; I thought I might have to catch him before he fainted. Heath and Brett have some serious pork mojo going on, and anytime you guys want to negotiate a “ribs for pork” mojo swap I’m listening.    Here’s the contest rundown:

Chicken: 5th out of 30 (162.8570)

Our third consecutive 5th place chicken finish.  Yeah, it’d be nice to move up a few spots, but frankly I’ll take a 5th place chicken finish every week and be happy.  I kind of hate to share the secret of Wagshal’s chicken as it gives us a real advantage.  But it wouldn’t be right to keep such great chicken to ourselves.

Ribs:  7th out of 30 (158.2858)

Not quite our best, but it was a nice rebound after the travesty of the previous week at Cumberland.  I found five outstanding bones in a single rack, but as I began to place them in the box I found the fifth bone was short with a weird piece of cartilage on the end.  I started to pull it out of the box but Sharon told me to leave it as it matched the other four bones and the appearance and tenderness were good.  I decided the tenderness and appearance outweighed the weird piece of cartilage, so I placed it back in the box.  Finding a good sixth bone was more of a challenge.  I settled on what I thought was a nice looking bone and placed it in the front of the box  perpendicular to the five bones which fit perfectly.  I predicted we’d get four good scores, one OK and one questionable.  And that is exactly what happened.  When the low score was tossed, the four good scores offset the fifth OK score and we slipped into the top 10.

Pork: 17th out of 30 (152.5714)

Middling pork equals a mid-pack pork finish.   We went with simple pork flavors this weekend, and raw taste scores were 8 7 7 8 7 8.  That says to me “we liked the taste, but we weren’t wowed.”  We’ve struggled all year long trying to find flavors that wow while not being too far out there.  Last year we were all over the place, and in one six-week span we went  2nd out of 26, 27th out of 30,8th out of 47 and 73rd out of 89.  This year we wanted to eliminate the wild swings and keep the good finishes.   Well, for the most part we’ve eliminated the swings.  Unfortunately, however, it’s come at the expense of the higher finishes.  After judging at Tracy’s Landing, I got a lot of valuable feedback on what I may be doing wrong.  We’ll see how it goes this weekend at Shrewsbury.

Brisket: 19th out of 30 (150.2856)

I am now officially concerned with brisket.  I didn’t think we did anything wrong this weekend, but when the judges felt there were 18 better entries than ours they’re telling us we’re not doing something right.  We’re not going to blow everything up; instead, we will do what has worked in the past, pay attention to every detail and put it in the hands of the judges.  That’s really all we can do  at this point.

Tyson’s Best Wings on the Planet:  3rd out of 21 (158.2856)

This was a real nice surprise.  I gave pretty much zero thought to this competition until I was packing the trailer on Thursday.  I’d been wanting to try a new rib/sauce combo from Draper’s BBQ, so I decided to use it in the wings comp.  I gave the wings a heavy coat of Draper’s AP Rub and let them sit in the cooler for several hours.  At 1:00 PM I placed the wings on the Fatboy top rack at 275F for one hour.   I then took the wings out and tossed in Shane’s new chicken sauce.   I opened up all the Fatboy vents to let the smoker heat up, put the wings back on the rack and set the sauce for fifteen minutes.  I took them out, tasted one and I was very pleased with the appearance, taste and tenderness.  I filled the box completely full and turned it in.  The best thing about having no expectations is when you do have a good result is the element of surprise.  Trust me, I was surprised to hear our name.

A little perspective on this weekend.  When we have gotten to the point that a top 10 finish qualifies as a disappointment, I’ve got to look at that as a sign that we’ve really come a long way in a short time.  I truly expect to be in the mix every time we compete, and for that I am thankful.  The next step is to make that expectation into reality.  Simplicity, consistency, controlling the variables we can control and not worrying about the ones we can’t is the path forward.  Next up for Degüello BBQ is the 4th Annual Southern York County BBQ Cook-Off  on September 7-8.

Another beautiful Wagshal’s brisket

Third Place Wings – Thanks Draper’s BBQ!

Fifth Place Chicken

The Kings of Pork AND the Jersey Shore 

Published in: on September 4, 2012 at 9:09 pm  Comments (1)  

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