4th comp of the year for me with a couple remaining on the schedule. The cook off was associated with the Texas Rice Festival held in Winnie,Texas, the festival is in its' 43rd year, not sure on the history of the cook off, but it has been around for a few years as well. Even with a nasty, wet, rainy weekend, we ended up with 49 teams showing up and cooking in the IBCA event sponsored by Whataburger.
I went into this comp with 2 things in mind. First, improving my brisket by stepping up to an angus beef brisket, so I purchased a CAB Choice 7# brisket at a local HEB food store. I also cooked alongside the angus a regular USDA select grade brisket weighing in at 14#'s, just as a backup plan due to the fact that I had never cooked an angus and we all love to have some brisket in the freezer for later use anyway. My second mission was to thin down and spice up the glaze I have been using on my ribs since I have yet to place after I started glazing my ribs. The St. Louis style spareribs were some I had pulled out of the freezer that I have bought during the summer when they have been on sale. All 3 racks were about 3.5 to 4 #'s each with fairly straight bones (a must for comp turn ins). The chickens I purchased were both under 5#'s which is a must when your trying to shove 2 halves into your turn in box. I saw 1 guy at turn ins looking like he was trying to shove a halved turkey in his box, must have been a 10# chicken. Usually I just cook 2 racks of ribs, 2 halved chickens and 1 brisket, but this comp was within 30 minutes of where I work so I had a few guests that were coming down to enjoy some good food and soak up the atmosphere, so I also threw on an 8# Boston butt and some sausage to help feed the appetite of my attendees.
With the rain falling at a steady drizzle all day, occasionally spiking to a downpour, an uncovered firebox required a bit more attention to keeping my temps up during the cook. I have an umbrella which fits over the main chamber and protects it for the most part, but not the firebox. Not knowing how long the angus would take to reach toothpick tenderness, I decided to start my cook a bit sooner than normal, so I started my fire around 12:00 AM and threw the 2 briskets and butt on at 12:45 AM. Normally I cook everything at 250 from start to finish, but I wanted to go for the first 5 to 6 hours at 200-225 to see if a true slow 'n' low might help out with the juiciness of my briskets in the end. As I neared 7:00 AM and time to throw the ribs on came closer, I bumped the temps up to the 250 range and also changed my wood mix from mesquite and oak to pecan and oak. At this time I had also foiled both briskets so they had all the mesquite smoke they were going to get anyway. Chicken went on at 8:30, 2 hours before turn ins. I slow smoke the chicken in the same pit as my other meats, so crispy skin is not happening, but I do put the halves meat side down, in a shallow aluminum pan with alot of butter. I have found that the shallower the pan, the more smoke seems to penetrate into the meat and the butter bath really adds a nice touch to the texture and flavor of the birds.
Here is a pic of my chicken turn in:
My biggest complaint with the chicken was I waited too late to foil the tips of the wings and they burned just a bit. I cook them to 170+ IT in the breast after brining for typically 12+ hours at comps, always turns out juicy, tender and I have placed in chicken in every event I have competed at, this time I finished 9th of 49.
Here is a pic of the ribs turn in:
As I mentioned earlier, I went away from a heavy, sweet glaze to a light and spicier mix. I had been using a mixture of Sweet Baby Rays and brown sugar with some apple cider vinegar to thin it down. Everyone who has tried them loves them, except the judges since I have yet to place since I started glazing with that combo. This time I went lighter, by thinning a originail Q sauce down with apple juice and a hint of brown sugar to help with the carmelization. At the very least the experiment helped as I did not place top 10, but made final table and finished in 11th out of 49 in ribs. I was pleased with this experiment on my ribs, must be most Texans don't like sauced ribs. I'm a Texan and I like sauced ribs...go figure.
Here is a pic of my brisket turn in:
I was very pleased with my brisket, unfortunately, thiswas the select brisket and not the angus experiment as the angus had still yet to breakdown completely and become toothpick tender. Temp probe showed 205 IT, but had yet to loosen up. I had pulled the angus and left it wrapped in my cooler until I got home later that evening, threw it in the oven to see how long at 275 it would take to finish. 2 1/2 hours later, it was nice and tender and had a great taste to it. I have still debated on which one had a better flavor, but on Saturday, I had little choice but to turn in the select. Since I was running a test with 2 briskets, I had decided to deviate from the normal routine of rub it and smoke it and tried marinating the select brisket. I used Stubbs Beef marinade, the brisket and marinade went into a 2 1/2 gallon ziploc right after the Friday evening cooks meeting, around 6:30 PM and I pulled it out around 12:15 AM, rubbed it with a blend of Bad Byrons and Montreal Steak. In the end, I made final table in brisket as well, finishing 15th out of the 49 teams.
Overall, I ended tied at 17th out of the 49 teams, but more importantly as I have had at all the comps I have competed in, my family and I enjoyed a day together, doing what we like to do and spending time together. To make this day even better, we we're able to have some good friends come along and share in the good food and fun that was to be had.
Edited by bruno994 - 10/3/12 at 9:03am