Well to say it's been a crazy month since my last post would be an understatement! This months post is gonna be a bit more of a recap because lot has happened.
So this past June was the Hartford Rib off. This was the first contest I entered 3 years ago. I have been lucky enough to watch it go from a small unsanctioned event to a KCBS event with 16 teams. The very first time I completed I place 3rd.
The prior two weekends I had cooked catering gigs so I was primed and ready to go. My team and myself met up on Thursday to get to the competition and start getting set up. For this year the organizer of the event added a Friday night event with a steak cook-off. This was a completely new event for my team. Not that we couldn't cook steak just never did one for competition. We had to cook ribeye steak and shrimp.
For this event we chose to use a Weber kettle set up in a two zone configuration. This allowed us to reverse sear the steaks hoping we could get some smoke flavor into them. We had to cook 2 steaks one was left whole for presentation and one cut into pieces for the judges to taste. We chose to cut our steak up before we cooked it so that we could get seasoning and browning on all sides.
The shrimp we cooked in an aluminum tray with butter to start then grilled them off to finish them. After we had turned those in it was time to relax a bit til awards. Spoiler alert we did not fair so well. We ended up 7th in shrimp and 13th in steak. Not where we hoped to be but we learned a lot and had fun. Next up the KCBS BBQ event.
This event was the competitor series and we had to cook all four categories and we also had a people's choice event with pulled pork. In years past at this event the teams cooked not only for the competition but also for the people who bought tickets for the event. So in switching to a KCBS event chef Van Hurd from Hell's kitchen and Taino smokehouse came in and cooked for the masses. This allowed the teams to concentrate on our competition cooks.
A big trick that I highly suggest to anyone doing competition BBQ is to get a vacuum sealer and trim your meat at home. This allows you to get all your trimming done on your own schedule and in the comfort of your own home. It is so much easier then having to sit and trim something like chicken thighs under a tent with people walking by asking questions.
For our pork shoulder and rib categories we used Smithfield products. For me I find them consistent and trimmed well right out of the package. This again helps eliminate extra work. As for brisket in competition there is only 1 choice and that is wagyu beef. I get mine from Snake River Farms. We trim both our brisket and our pork shoulder at the event mainly because I don't have a large enough vacuum sealer to hold the larger cuts off meat.
Once we got everything prepped and ready we got the fire going about 10:30. We have found the Lang smoker definitely takes a bit of time to get to temp and stabilize. The nice thing about having teammate is we can take turns watching the fire. Soon we had the cooker ready and on went the brisket. We took turns napping which was a huge help. Brisket goes on first then pork shoulder then ribs and chicken the next morning.
To say that I am lucky is an understatement. Competing in a BBQ event is no small task but with friends and family it's definitely a lot easier. We had both of our wives, my parents and a couple of other friends with us to help on Saturday. We were also lucky enough to have Nester otherwise known as the Brooklyn Pit Rat hanging with us and helping out.( If you don't know who he is I highly recommend looking him up on Instagram and checking out Mikey's interview with him on the podcast.) It was awesome to have him there helping.
The first thing we had to do was the people's choice which was pulled pork. Thanks to our friend Ryan and to Nester for being a huge help in handing out samples along with my mother. This allowed Adam and me to get our competition meats ready and boxed. This is not an easy job. After cutting it and selecting the pieces we arrange them in the turn in box it was up to my wife to get them turned in to the judges. First category is chicken then ribs, pork shoulder and last but not least brisket.
Once we have turned in all of our meats it is time for a breather. It was nice to sit for a bit but soon it was time to head to awards. First they announced each category and top 3 in each category. Unfortunately we were not in the top 3 for any of them. Next up was the overall scores. We placed 5th in the overall scores out of 16 teams. Next up the people's choice award and with that we hear our name be called! First place people's choice pulled pork!
What a crazy two days lots of ups and downs but we made it through. Soon we were breaking down our cooksite and getting on the road. We got home brought in what we had too and went to bed. We were soon in for a continuation of the craziness the next morning. I was awoken by my wife the next morning telling me that she thinks her water has broke. We call the doctor and are told to come in. Sure enough her water had broken and we were gonna have our baby most likely today. Sure enough 10:56 that night we had a beautiful little girl.
What a way to end a great weekend get first place in people's choice and fifth overall to then end the weekend with a birth! On that note I hope you have all enjoyed this months post remember #cowboyup and #keepsmokin