Monday, May 19, 2008

Pellet Envy cooks old school, wins Claremore Boots & BBQ

With the pellet trailer still in the shop for it's makeover, I dragged the Geer pit out this past weekend and headed south to Claremore, Oklahoma for the Boots & BBQ event held at Will Rogers Downs. Sheri had the weekend off, so I went stag this weekend. The forecast called for sunny skies and mild weather, so it seems like the perfect weekend to burn some sticks.

The event was held at a horse track and casino. In addition to the normal activities, there was a carnival plus several bands and singers, and a few vendors. With no prior knowledge of this event, I was surprised to see 48 other teams had the same idea. In fact, it looked like everyone just headed over from last weekend's Smoke on the Water event. We were on grass this weekend in over sized RV spots with great power and water. There were plenty of volunteers to make sure the cooks had everything they needed. They also served a cooks breakfast on Saturday morning. Good thing too, because Steph and Val weren't there to feed me, and you know how daddy loves his food! Overall, this was a well organized, well run event.

As most of you know, I don't get out to events with the stick burner very often. In a blog post made right here earlier this year, I vowed to cook more on the Geer. Little did I know that fuel would rocket up in price to the point that the Geer might be pressed into service more often than originally planned. Even though we've cooked on it in over a dozen events these past three years, I'm still not comfortable with the final product from this pit. Obviously the food is not bad, it's just a different style of bbq for us. Needless to say, on Saturday when asked the number one post turn-in question, I responded that I liked my chicken, but wasn't happy with the other three categories. For whatever reason, I just can't learn to keep my mouth shut. I know I should just say, "Everything was fine," and I've practiced that on many occasions, but it's hard for me. Those of you that know me well, know that I always feel I could have cooked better. Rarely am I totally happy with our entries. It's not sandbagging, it's the truth. However, when I repeatedly answer that question with what I feel is the truth and then win the event, I think it makes me sound very insincere. I don't mean to come across this way. You just have to know me and know that despite this sometimes slovenly outer shell, I'm a perfectionist at heart.

Wow, while I wasn't sure about the direction of this post, I didn't intend for it to be a therapy session. My apologies. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program . . . . . . . .

It was warm and a bit breezy at turn-in time. I put my Cambro up on the table to use as a wind block. This needs to be said here - It's amazing how much I missed Sheri this past weekend. She is our primary taster. She also is my second pair of hands and eyes. We've cooked together so long, we both know what the other will do and I have come to expect that. She enjoys the competitions, but not as much as I do. She deserves a few weekends off, but I just hope she doesn't get used to that. I need her there. Plus, her nickname isn't "The Closer" for no reason! So, my calls were 4th place chicken. I was pleased with that. Chicken has been our nemesis for a long time. With the help of a couple friends, things are looking up in that category, knock on wood. Next was 8th place ribs. I didn't care for the ribs that day. My normal ribs were shorted on my order two weeks in a row and that really put me in a bind. I had to resort to a new and different brand that I had never cooked. They weren't bad, just different and so they cooked differently. In an effort to be sure they were done, I went a little long on cooking the ribs and it showed. So, in my opinion the rib finish was a gift. Both pork and brisket finished 3rd on Saturday. While not shocked, I was surprised. If for no other reason, because the smoke level and color on these two products is so different from my FEC-100's. Those calls were good enough to barely edge out Hot Wire BBQ, a husband and wife team from the Tulsa area. Keri C and Robert have been cooking very well and this weekend was a well deserved Reserve Grand Champion finish. Congrats to them and everyone who heard their names called. Robert and the gang from Habitual Smokers won ribs despite not having a plan for that category until well after the ribs were already on the pit. I've always said I'd rather be lucky than good.

This weekend is the Great American Barbeque Festival in Kansas City. We're competing in the Invitational, Open, and the World Brisket Open. John Markus of Central Pork West fame is flying in from New York City, bringing a ringer with, and will cook on our Geer pit. I think I'll draft one of those rental damage agreements and John and I will do a walk around prior to him taking posession! Sheri has a small function for a few of her friends on Saturday night at the event. Should be an action packed holiday weekend. See you all there!

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