Sunday, October 19, 2008

Contest Recap - Autumn Blaze BBQ Smoke-off and Anderson County Cornfest

After taking last weekend off, I headed about 70 miles southwest of home to keep my timing for this weekend's Jack Daniel's World Invitational. I liked this event because of it was close to home and, based on last year's attendance, I knew there would be some stiff competition. Man was I right about that. With Smoker's Wild, Ribs 4 U, Slaughterhouse Five, Four Men and a Pig, KC Can Crew and Twin Oak Smokin' Crew, just to name a few, this was a rough crowd. Beyond that, I had no expectations for this event and had not really heard much about it. As it turns out, this was a great, small town contest located on the fairgrounds, well planned and organized by the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus, led by Ted Uhler.

The American Royal weekend really took it's toll on us. Catering, plus cooking back to back events, was completely draining. It was hard to see it as a positive when it happened, but having my truck in the shop just after all of that was probably a good thing. Otherwise, I had planned to travel down to Ft. Worth to cook in the Trader's Village event. Looking back, I would have been dragging. I know now that was a bad decision and not going was a stroke of luck. I really want to get down there for that event though, so I hope to get there soon.

On the way down to Garnett, a team that will remain unnamed, called to inquire as to my whereabouts. I had gotten away late, so it was about 2:00 PM when they called. They had opened up one of their briskets, finding that all too common gash the packers sometimes create in the flat. I hate that. The worst part is that it's something that is almost impossible to see in the cry-o-vac and only upon opening up the packaging, do you realize you're screwed. That's one of the reasons I wash and trim my meat at home before heading to an event whenever possible. It gives me a chance to find replacements if something goes south. If they had caught me an hour earlier, I have a big stash of great looking really big whole C.A.B. briskets aging in my fridge, but unfortunately I was too far down the road for that. So, we settled on a stop at Wal-Mart in Ottawa, KS, about half to the event. I won't bore you with the details, but after a little begging, the meat person brought out a fresh case of Excel no roll whole packer briskets and there was an 18 lbs. beauty that left the store under my arm. I never buy my meat at Wal-Mart and this might be the reason why; there was a small white sticker on this brisket that said "Product of USA/Mexico/Canada." What the #*@^? Obviously utilized to hide this products origin and confuse people, I'm not much into guessing where my meat came from. If Wal-Mart wants to import beef from Mexico or Canada to save a dime, they should just say it. And yeah, it's going to effect their sales, but hey, at least be honest about it.

With that small adventure complete, I arrived about 3:30PM and was pleasantly surprised. The teams were lined up down both sides of a gravel road on the county fairgrounds. My spot was right next to the power poll and Bibs & Ribs. Dave and Sharon of Smoker's Wildl were sitting out front of their site, obviously solving world matters. With the help of Dave and Greg from Ribs 4 U, I backed in and got set-up with incident. Cook's meeting was at 7:00 PM. That's where I learned that 42 teams were participating, up from 28 the previous year. That's a huge accomplishment, considering that most events in 2008 were lucky if they matched their previous year attendance. Ted and his group should really feel good about that.

Okay, this isn't working for me. I'm trying to make an interesting post out of two days of, uneventful, uninteresting stuff. We came, we cooked, we finished Reserve Grand Champion. You can't win a contest when your pork finishes 33rd out of 42 teams. Was it that bad? I don't know. When I cook by myself as I did this past weekend, I really struggle determining the quality of my product. That's where I miss Sheri the most. Well, there and the fact that she's the closer, my name for the person that cleans up, but please don't tell her that. I'm always so rushed to get things in the box and delievered to the turn-in table, that I just have trouble focusing on determining the product quality. I liked the chicken. It finished 2nd. I didn't like the ribs. They were 4th. Confession time - I didn't taste the pork. You already know how it finished. I had to check both ends of both briskets and wound up using slices from the fourth and last choice. As soon as I sliced my final option, I knew it was going in the box. It finished 3rd. I feel good about the finish, all things considered. Oh, and thanks to Greg and Eric for hosting dinner on Friday night. They made a BIG pot of chili (Steph could take a lesson here) and Sharon brought tamales and pork. It was cold in Garnett on Friday night and that chili was perfect for the weather.

Congrats to Four Men and a Pig on winning the event. That's a follow-up to winning the American Royal Open for Mark and Carrie. Also, congrats to all who heard their names called at this event. There was some serious competition. The nameless team got a brisket call. I had to ask. The turned in brisket from the good brisket of the two they had. Congrats to for the win in Libertyville, IL. Scottie has been on a roll this fall. I'm glad I don't have to cook against him again until next year (Yeah Scottie, I'm taunting you to come to Florida, and I know you're thinking about it). If you ask me, I think he finally figured out to baste everything with that broth you get when you buy the fixin's for those Chicago Beefs. Man that stuff is good. Hopefully by the time we are both at a contest again, he'll have forgotten whatever it is that he's remembered or found in his cooking lately. Congrats to everyone everywhere who received an award in a contest this weekend!

We're headed to Lynchburg, Tennessee this weekend to compete in the 20th annual Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational. This will be our fifth trip to this contest. Lots of big names and new faces there this year. We had some success there in the early years that has since gone by the wayside. Of late, we've been beaten up pretty good in Lynchburg. Wish us luck. It should be fun.

1 comment:

Scottie said...

Funny guy... Don't tease me...

Good luck at the Jack!