UK BBQ Mag Autumn 2017 - Page 68

Enjoy your BBQ!

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that there are expected flavours in barbecue. Barbecue is a very friendly food and certainly not hard to pronounce, but it is a very challenging food to make well. All you can do is keep failing until you can get it right.

8. There are many ways to do things.

At my first barbecue contest, I was cooking beside a guy named Taterbug from Danville, Va. He made his pit and sat in his chair with his arms folded, most of the contest. Me, on the other hand, was constantly moving about checking my meat, adjusting my fire, spraying things, and often opening my pits to observe how my meats were looking. Every time I would open my pit, Taterbug would shake his head because he knew I was going it wrong. Taterbug was definitely from the school of "If you're looking, you're not cooking!" However, I am a very visual cook and like to see how my meats are progressing during the cook. I keep an eye on the colour and determine if they need a spritz of apple juice. I look! That day, I was 2nd in Pork and 7th in Brisket, and I was hooked!

9. ‘Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan’

Another quote from an old friend I am very organized at work and on the competition circuit. When I get to a contest, I have a clean pit, hand cut wood, sharp knives, fresh rub, and good meat. I have my chicken brine made, my injections ready, and everything I need for my cook. I have a timeline for when everything will happen. On the drive to the competition, I will go over how the cook will go in my head. Practice cooks are a great way to prepare for a contest and remember that what works in practice will also work in a contest. Keep a timeline on paper and make adjustments as necessary. If your brisket does not get cooked in time during practice, make an adjustment on your timeline. You can either raise the pit temperature or put it on sooner. These corrections will make for a smoother and more successful cook next time.

10. Do Not Leave Your Best Meat on the Table

Steve Farrin probably taught me this brisket. In the beginning, I was only serving slices from the front end of the flat, and Steve asked me why I wasn't turning in meat from the point. It was because I didn't know how. I had already turned in my brisket and Steve went to the meat that was still sitting on my cutting board and made a slice of what was so much better than what I had turned into the judges. So don't leave your best meat on the table. If you cook six racks of ribs, be sure to slice all six racks, and carefully check all the meat before sending it to the judges. If you don't sample each different section of meat, then you may be leaving your best meat on the table. Don't judge the meat on appearance alone, follow up with a taste test to ensure the highest quality meat is submitted for judging.

11. A Good Pit is a Solid Investment

I work hard traveling across the country on the competitive BBQ circuit and I made an investment to get a good grill. I bought a mobile pit we call the "Grillvette" like a Corvette turned grill from Jamie Geer. They are called ‘Jambos’ and are great pits. They look great, but, more importantly, they cook great. On Season 1 of BBQ Pitmasters, I went all over the country with my Jambo Pit. I now have three of his pits, and I believe investing in a quality cooker makes your job easier.

12. Take A BBQ Class For A Kick-Start Into The BBQ Competition Circuit

I have taken some great classes and I love to learn new things. Now I teach my own classes. After we won the American Royal Open in 2014, Cool Smoke's third world championship, so many people were asking me to teach classes. I'd won more than my fair share, and it was time to teach what I do. I offer full disclosure and give 100% of my barbecue recipes, techniques, and philosophies. I decided I was willing to show everything that I do to win competitions. I built a beautiful cook school, so everyone who comes to learn has a great experience. If you are serious about competing, taking a good class will pay for itself. It is an easy way to kick-start your knowledge and hit the ground running on the BBQ circuit.

13. Handling Winning & Losing in Competition BBQ | "The Harder I Work, the Luckier I Get."

I often say that if we never win again, we've still won more than our fair share! Back when I first started competing, we had a contest where we had done very well and the following weekend we never got one single call. My mother called me after that, and she said that she had heard I had not done so well that weekend. I said that was true. She said to me that the contest before was my turn and that this weekend was somebody else's turn. That really helped put competition barbecue into perspective for me. That said, I love the saying “the harder I work, the luckier I get”. I do everything I can to cook my best food.

With acknowledgement to the NBBQA BBQ & Grilling Enthusiasts Tips, Solutions &Best Practices Newsletter

With acknowledgement to the NBBQA BBQ & Grilling Enthusiasts Tips, Solutions &Best Practices Newsletter