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Questions re competitions

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Ok, I am new to the forum and I have a question regarding competitions.

I have a small state fair competition that I have been talked into doing. It is sponsored by Kingsford and nothing but charcoal is allowed. Not only that, I only have 5 hours to turn in three things... ribs, pork steaks and wings. It will be my first foray into competitions and even though it is small, I would like to give myself a fighting chance.

I have an older heavy offset smoker, weber kettle and an ugly drum that works well.

Given those parameters, what would some of you do?
I dont like wet ribs but might be able to turn in both??
I dont like hot wings so a bbq/smoked wing with light sauce, tasty and maybe a bit spicy.
I'm a bit unorthodox when it comes to pork steaks. I do NOT like them swimming in sauce and simmering until they are like baby food. I like to show them some grill marks, move them away from the fire and let them go for a bit longer but not hours or anything.

Of course, I am amenable to whatever the consensus is here.

Another main question would be the basics of turning stuff in. I was thinking those foam leftover containers with foil on the bottom and some type of garnish to set things on. What types of containers and garnish do you all use? How would you plate the pork steaks? I'm thinking about slicing it into manageable strips and stacking them offset some way.

Totally open so educate me! Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 15
Just remember it's note really about what you like, but more about what the judges like. A lot of people like wet wings. So when you are looking for flavour profiles you might have to step outside your box. Good luck by the way.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Absolutely agree. I cant be swayed by what I like and thanks for your response.
I do intend to sauce the wings. I just didnt know if it was common to turn in wet and dry ribs or not.

The pork steaks have me a bit flummoxed also as I do not believe they are normal competition fare. The midwest, particularly the St Louis area is thick with pork steak fans. I do enjoy them as well but not sure how to go about it from a competition standpoint.
post #4 of 15

I would take several different sauces ad rubs with you and see if you can find someone who has been in THIS competition before and ask them what do the  judges like. Good luck

post #5 of 15
I almost want to go buy a pork steak and throw it on the smoker while the brisket is cooking and see what I can do. I always pan fry them. But what do us Texas boys know about swine
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks James. I bet the other contestants are going to be tight-lipped but I do intend to ask around.

Speaks... I have smoked porksteaks along side buts and so forth before and they are fine that way. I really thought about smoking for a while, a quick sear over heat for some color, off to the side and finish off with light sauce and plate. I have about 4 weeks to try a few things. I decided to do this nearly a year ago and I have had plenty of time to mess around but have only done any real work with the ribs. i procrastinate too much.
post #7 of 15
Good luck man. I wouldn't even know where to start flavour wise with a pork steak. I would probably go with what I use on rack of pork with a little less brown sugar. Good lunch again.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Anyone else?
post #9 of 15

I'm not a competition smoker, but do love a good pork steak...but I grew up in STL, so that is probably why.  This is my opinion, so take it for what it is worth.

 

Ribs - sounds like you already have a plan...

 

Wings - doesn't sound like they have to be buffalo wings.  You can inject them with your favorite sauce and then put a rub on the outside.  They are outstanding this way.  Smoke them for a couple hours and then crisp them up on the weber grill.

 

Pork Steaks - I would smoke them for a couple of hours and then finish them on the grill with a good sauce that will caramelize onto them.  I like the cut into strip idea.  Make sure they are tender, but not mushy.  Kinda like ribs, need a slight tug.  I hate crock pot pork steaks that are all mushy and greazzzzzy.

 

presentation - think most people use the Styrofoam boxes on a bed of garnish with a little color to boot.

 

Even though I'm not much of a fan, I've been told a majority of judges like sweet sauces.  I personally would try and stay away from the ones with liquid smoke flavor in them.  Tastes artificial to me and doesn't let your cooking smoke come through.

post #10 of 15

5 hours seems tight. I'm not a competitor, so take my advice with a grain of salt. That being said, I'd bump your heat to 275˚. You'll get the same or better results as low and slow in much less time.

Since we don't know where you live, it's hard to guess what the local judges might like, but I'm guessing you might know, so try and cater to that type flavor, whether it's sweet, spicy, fruity, extra smokey or what have you.

I'd do a reverse sear on the pork steaks with maybe a short braise to break down connective tissue. Maybe 2 hours in smoke, 45 minutes foiled, then back on a hot grill to sear and get your grill marks. Similar to a basic rib cook.

Speaking of ribs, at 275˚ I usually do a version of the 3-2-1 method, basically a 2-2.5 hour smoke, a 30 minute to one hour braise in foil and 15-30 minutes back on the grate to firm up and set sauce. Sound familiar?

For wings search "scarbelly" wings here. They're supposed to be the best of the best.

Good luck!

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks very much folks. sausage.gif
post #12 of 15

if nuthin' else it will be a good learning experience, keep your eyes peeled and observe, talk to the neighbor guy at the next smoker, absorb any information that you can.

by all means have fun, and you might even get a surprise.  let us know how it turns out.  GL.

post #13 of 15

Down south the judges want ribs n chicken sticky sweet,  w/ just a back bite of heat. I would use the UDS and kettle as you can ramp up the heat faster than on the offset. Use the UDS w/ the ribs over the wings. Use the kettle for the steaks and to crisp up the wings

 Run your temp up to 250 - 275 and do a modified 3-2-1 on the ribs 2.5 - 1.50 - .75 . leaves you 15 min to slice ,plate and turn in. .

post #14 of 15

I think it's totally awesome your doing this. You mentioned you were talked into this which tells me your smoking has left an impression. I think you should go with what you do and if you want it wet then so be it MAKE IT WET!!! At the end of the day it's all about enjoying yourself meeting people that appreciate a good smoke. It all will depend on the judges and what they like so if you don't place that doesn't mean your grilling isn't tasty.  Please let us know how it went for ya and please post some pictures!!!!   Happy Grillin

post #15 of 15

Another option on the pork steaks is to use all the time to sit them in a brine (at least 3 hrs, no more than 6 hours). Try equal parts smoked sea salt and light Muscovado or Turbinado sugar, add cracked Malabar black pepper, a couple bay leaves and a couple dashes of Worchestershire in a 1/2 water - 1/2 chicken stock solution. If you're going to a competition, make the brine ahead of time. Let them sit in there as long as possible. When ready to cook, remove them from the brine and rinse in cold, clean water, then pat dry. Put a light sprinkle of your favorite pork rub on them and them simply grill them in a Weber Smoky Joe (or some other small grill that gets the grate really close to the coal bed) over medium/high heat coals with some mesquite chips thrown directly on the coals. Depending on thickness, grill 5-6 minutes per side (if they're really thick, you can also stand them up and get grill marks on the edges as well!) You can do a last-minute sweet glaze on them for carmelization/color or baste them after removing them from the heat. Lightly re-salt them just before serving. The brining makes them SO juicy.


Edited by Remmy700P - 12/13/14 at 1:09pm
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