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"Competition" BBQ vs Good ol' Backyard Que

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I read alot about "competition" bbq. I have attended Memphis in May many times (I was an honerary team member with a team one year!-learned a lot) and have attended several other competitions. I will be entering a few this year.
Here is my take on several generalizations...seems to me these apply to comps AND back-yard... what do you do different for comps that you don't do at home for friends and family??? please comment!

most do thighs - more forgiving. Skin should be "bite-able". do you brine for competition? any one ever do breasts?

Good bark, not over cooked and "mushy" (kind of goes without saying doesn't it??!). inject (I always do). pack on a good rub? (I always do). cook it low and slow over consistant heat? (we all do!). what else?!

No "fall apart" ribs...(although a lot of folks I know prefer them that way!) 10 years ago many teams at MIM were turning in ribs that you could twist and pull the bone right out...they were excellent!!! Today for competitions it seems judges are looking for ribs that have a little "pull" to them.
Sauced or rubbed? sweet or spicy? what works best in your experience?

Tender, good smoke ring, not dried out... what else??

Picture perfect presentation - perfect slices, uniform chicken pieces, perfectly placed lettuce - all a must! just like the restaurant biz, that first impression can make you or break you. Do you present pork with slices, pulled and chopped?
post #2 of 12
With competition chicken, I trim up thighs so they are uniform in size and shape. At home, I don't bother with all that. I also tend to cook larger pieces of chicken (whole, halves, quarters, etc.).

I also like a little more vinegar on my pork at home.

Regarding the pork presentation. In a competition, it is somewhat common to see sliced pork and pulled/chunks of pork in the same presentation box.
post #3 of 12
That bite through skin is hard to figure out
post #4 of 12
Higher heat and some butter will crispin them up towards the end.
post #5 of 12
Here is a link to a rather informative post for competition thighs. Lots o'work!

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
to date, this is the absolute best tutorial for chicken I have seen...thanks for the link JIRdodriguez!!
post #7 of 12
For me -

Chicken - I very rarely cook chicken in the smoker at home if I do it is just for competition practice or trying something new for a contest. If I were to at home there would be almost no sauce (if any) and I would not to through the trimming hassle or worry about bite through skin

Ribs - My ribs for eating and ribs for contest are pretty close to the same. My contest ribs are sweeter than I care for, but not overwhelmingly so.

Pork - At home I just pull it regardless of the texture and particular muscle. Money muscle gets thrown in with everything else. Taste is about the same, less sauce for home eating though. I inject for contest, but not at home.

Brisket - Used to be vastly different, but now I really enjoy my competition brisket.......probably all the practice. I used to not inject for home eating, but now do.

Presentation - well......at home, I don't really care. I don't make it a train wreck, but if the ribs aren't cut perfect, no one cares.....me included. For competition, everything has to be perfect, I pack Q tips just to wipe smudges on the inside of the box.

By what you posted, I think you have a pretty good idea of how things work out there.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your post Fatback Joe!
I am entering a few competitions this year...I plan to be primarily in "learn" mode but I don't want to be 50/50!!!
post #9 of 12
At the end of the day, it is just cooking, have fun and don't make it harder than it has to be.

Attention to detail is needed, but a rib is a rib.

Good luck out there.
post #10 of 12
I try to do the same at home as I do for a comp, right down to the time of day for rubbing to injecting. This is what I use for practice for comps. I have been called picky ( anal) for my cooking methods and techniques. It works so I stick to them.
post #11 of 12
Kind of hard to argue with your success.
post #12 of 12
Just keep in mind in Texas you have to cook chicken halves with joints attached . International Barbeque Cookers Association rules apply at most all events .
The following categories are recommended by the IBCA:
Beef Brisket
Pork Spare Ribs
Chicken — one half (1/2) fully jointed domestic chicken that includes a breast, wing, thigh, and drumstick. (NO Cornish Game Hens)
Pork - Butt and/or Shoulder
Meats other than those listed above. This category may include, not limited to goat, mutton, fish, crustacean, wild game, or wild fowl. All Open categories must be cooked on site on BBQ pit or grill.
Dessert — This should be a separate category and the promoter should ,specify if it should be cooked on site, on the pit, or can be cooked at home to be entered.
Beans — Dry Pinto Beans cooked on site * nothing larger than the bean to be put into the turn-in cup.

Remember pre entry fees are cheaper if bought by certain dates .
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