Turn in Time.

Welcome again, I hope everybody enjoyed my first blog post. Today we are gonna talk about Competition BBQ. Competition BBQ it is and it isn't like what you see on TV. Sure we've all sat down and watch BBQ Pitmasters, Smoked or Pit Wars at some point. We've all thought hey that doesn't look that hard I can do that. Well I'm here to tell you you can but it definitely takes more work than what you see on TV. So two years ago I said I want to try this. So I looked around on Facebook and found a small local competition. It wasn't actually a sanctioned event but they attempted to run it like one and I said you know what let's go for it. I called up a buddy of mine and said what do you think, think we can handle it? He said yes and that was that we were BBQ team.  

          I started going online and looking for lists of things that we needed. With my list in hand it was time to get my supplies in order. That list is large but necessary. Many of the items you will find on these kind of lists will seem no brainers but without that list I can guarantee you will forget things in fact even with it you will. Biggest thing I did to help was get a three ring binder, yes in today's techie world I said binder. I found it was easy to have my lists right there. Everyone on my team knew the binder and used it. What's nice is it's a physical thing you can grab and flip right open quickly. It also allowed for easy editing of the list. 

        The list does not know your timeline or processes. They do not know your cooker and what it takes to operate. These are all things you have to adapt your list to. Do you wrap brisket in butcher paper or do you Texas crutch? Does your cooker need wood chunks or wood pieces? Are you hot and fast or low and slow? These are all going to change what supplies you will be bringing. Understand too that you or a teammate will most likely be running out at some point because you inevitably will forget something or run out of something. You will reach for foil and end up with a piece half the size you need because the roll ran out. 

           You have your list, gathered your supplies so now what just wait till the weekend of the comp and go for it? No, now it's time to do a practice cook or two or three. We have all spent many a weekend cooking we know how to do it right? Wrong! We know how to relax and cook when time is much less a factor. For most backyard cooks timing is not a huge deal we just cook till it's ready, right? Sorry dear dinner's gonna be more like 5:30 not 5:00. For a competition timing is half the battle. You can make the best ribs in the world but if your late for turn in, then the only people who will know how good they are is you.

         Set a turn in time for yourself and work backwards to figure out your timeline. If you say it's 5:00 pm then work backwards from there to figure out how long you think plating will take, how long it should rest and how long it should cook. Do not forget to figure how long it will take you to prep the meat before cooking. Once you have it figured out try it and see what happens. At this point don't worry about flavor profiles or presentation. Just get your cook times down to cook the meat till tenderness. I also suggest start with each meat individually. I like to break everything down into small chunks then add them together to get a finished timeline. Start small,I did ribs first. Set my finish time then figured about 10 min of plating time, then 15 min of rest. Next is cook time I am more of a hot and fast kinda guy so I do my ribs in 4 hours. I like to have my ribs seasoned  and rested about 30 min before cooking. So I plan on 4 hrs and 55 min from seasoning to plating. Figure this out for each meat. Some meats are different you may want them seasoned and rested for hours before going on the cooker. These are variables that you as the cook have to decide.

             I hope I have been able to help some of you out. We will see you next month where we will continue to talk about competing in your first competition. Till then cowboy up and keep smoking. 

Cowboy Kev

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Eating My Way Around Walt Disney World

That's right kids, no cooks for me this week. Instead of trying my best to turn a beef tenderloin into perfectly cooked filet mignons, I spent my tax refund on a trip to Disney World! Now before you start flipping channels on me, let's talk about food. See, from my experience vacations can go one of two ways on this. It is either amazing meals which you would normally never experience, or it is just food which never gets thought of again.

So let's talk about Walt Disney World for a bit here. It is a theme park, yes. But it is more than that, it is a city of its own. The Disney World property includes 4 theme parks, 29 resorts, and over 200 places to get food! So we got a lot to cover. First off let's get rid the misconception of Disney is going to give you overpriced garbage food and that is your only option. It is a theme park, it is seriously expensive, but you can get some incredible eats!

For me, this was a last minute trip which means I had no chance of getting reservations in any of the amazing restaurants. Ultimately, if you do not plan ahead and make dinner reservations, you are stuck. So that leaves me with what Disney calls quick service. 

From the resort to the park there are tons of quick service places to eat. Quick Service is basically fast food. No servers, you wait in line and order off a menu board. But the beautiful part of Disney is that doesn't mean shitty food. Yes, you can get chicken fingers and a burger at 90% of them, but there is a lot more you can get. See Disney World, beyond a theme park, is about an immersive experience. They use everything including the food available to take you on your journey.

So while traveling through Adventureland, I can pick up a Dole Whip. Which is pineapple flavored soft-serve ice cream served in a cup of real Pineapple Juice. Likewise, when I am in the Asia section of Animal Kingdom I can grab a Kobe Beef Cheeseburger. When you jump over to the World Showcase in Epcot, you can quite literally eat your way around the world. 

Now for me, I had no advance planning for restaurants and even worse than that I had 6 people other than myself to provide for. So this would be not the foodies take on Disney, but more the typical dad's take...I am looking for budget and convenience and anything else is the whipped cream on top. 

Let me run through my favorites...

First, at the resort, and just about everywhere, while there are burgers and chicken fingers there are also pulled pork sandwiches. Now, this isn't my slow smoked pork shoulder by any means, but it beat the hell out of the alternative. The Magic Kingdom will give you Turkey Legs & Dole Whips. 

Jump over to Epcot where you can walk country to country picking your food. From Fish and Chips in Great Brittain to a Hong Kong style Beef and Rice Bowl in China. Finishing it all off with a Bratwurst in Germany.

In the Hollywood Studios park, you can find my absolute park favorite at Fairfax Fare, themed after California's farmer's markets, here you can walk up and order a loaded baked potato topped off with beef tri-tip! Not bad for a theme park!

Finally, I give you the park with the most diverse eating options, Animal Kingdom. Here the lands are themed around Asia and Africa and your dining follows suit. The standard cheeseburger and hot dog is replaced with one of Kobe beef and there is absolutely amazing pulled pork and ribs just about everywhere you eat.

For late nights after the park closes, you may be stuck with a mediocre pizza, but hey, it is still better than getting yelled at while ordering Bojangles at the airport!

So while I didn't cook this week, I did eat. And yeah, if you are going to a place like Disney, the food is only going to suck if you let it. Disney is filled with amazing food that won't cost you an arm and a leg, you just gotta get it!

Until next post, remember kids.....CHUNKS not chips!