OMG did i get in over my head!

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
May 27, 2008
Chinook, Montana
get a cup of coffee, this ones going to be involved....please excuse the sloppy use (non-use) of quotation marks.

so i was sitting there innocently trying to decide how to best celebrate my wife's birthday tomorrow (well, now it's actually today) with her, when lo and behold, the phone rings. it's my mother asking me if i had heard about the rib cook-off tomorrow (errr...later today). i said no, that's cool; it looks like i am too late for it but i'll have them put me on the list for next year. she said well, you should call down there and see what's up because it looks to be pretty informal. i replied that it's melissa's birthday tomorrow (yes, later today) and we'll probably not do it since i had never done an actual cook-off before and oh, by the way, i only started doing ribs earlier this summer. she said yeah, you got a point, next year looks i hang up.

my wife asks what that was about and i tell her. she says well you should check it out, your ribs are good. i said i know they're good but i've never done anything like a competition before - besides, all i've got is an ECB. she says well check it out anyway. i mentioned that it could get expensive since we didn't have anything in the house (ingredients etc.) and she said well, there could be prize money.

so i call the guy (local eagles club) and ask him what's up with this rib cook off. his reply was, and i quote, "come down and pick the ribs up, then cook em tomorrow." i say woah, fella - YOU supply the ribs? he said yep. i said well let me think about it and he says i've only got one entry's worth left.

my brain must have been on vacation, because the next thing out of my mouth was put my name on them, i'll be right there.

so i go there and he says here ya go - and tosses two huge packages at me. holy $#!%, i said, what's this? 30 lbs of ribs, says he. 30 POUNDS? with a P? yep, 15 lbs. each package - one country style, the other spares. so my mind races....i've got my ecb, my dad hasn't used his since he bought it in 1997 and it's languishing in his garage, so i can get that, and i had just bought one that i wanted to put together with all of the mods. that makes three - surely i can fit 30 lbs. of ribs into three ecbs. alright, i'll see you tomorrow - when does it start? he says you and your team show up about 1 pm and we'll eat at 6 and judge them - nothing formal, really. it's just a fund raiser and whoever buys tickets to come and eat gets to vote for what they like.

team? i said? yeah - you can have a team. how may people are in a bloody team i ask? oh, three or four, says he.

so i call my dad, his calendar is quite full tomorrow. my wife has a co-worker who would be interested, but he's actually working out of town this weekend. all of my co-workers are in the town where i work, 20 miles away. but wait, i've got three teenage boys, and a 6 yr old for a mascot, even - hot dang, and they even have matching t-shirts, maybe we can name the team and write it on their shirts in sharpie or something.
little did i know that they wouldn't be as enthusiastic about this as i was. # 3 son (13) started crying, #2 son (16) said heck yeah, i'm in (which is the same thing he would have said if i would have proposed jumping off a cliff with a grenade in each hand and no parachute, #1 son (just turned 18) said he'd tag along and the 6 year old looked confused.

so i got my team together and had the two older boys trim the ribs up (membrane) while #3 son and i went to to town 20 miles away to get a few things. i was just going to buy the stuff at the little local grocery here, even though it's a bit more expensive than wal-mart 20 miles away, but when we got to said little local grocery, we dicovered that it did not carry the rub that i use (durkee's st. louis style). well, i said, maybe i could use lowrey's seasoned salt as a rub. a good place in great falls uses that. #3 son who if you remember had been nearly in tears over being conscripted to participate earlier, said dad, if you're going to do it, don't you want to do it right? dang son, i raised you right after all, i said, so we drove the 20 miles, got the groceries (mop ingredients, foil and saran wrap, extra charcoal etc.)and rub at considerably less cost, and actually saved a little money versus buying them in town. on top of it all, of course, we got to use my preferred rub. with gas, of course, we probably lost a bit of money, but it was quality time and i regret it not. besides, i got my rub!

so we get home and i lay out my ECB grates (including my dad's, which i had borrowed some time ago for some forgotten project). with a little creativity, i am just barely able able to lay the country ribs out on three grates and the spares on three grates (the spares are cut across the ribs into portions about as long as a keyboard up to the number pad and as wide as the three rows of letters on a keyboard, the spares are cut about the same size). i prepare the grates one at a time by setting them on tinfoil, to make them into a platter of sorts, then i take the ribs on that grate and toss them in a bowl. i sprinkle a little rub on the spares in the bowl and stir them around to distribute, then pour in a little mustard (hopefully, this will be one of my secret ingredients) and stir them around again. then i sprinkle just a touch of rub on and take the surprisingly-even-coated portions and lay them out on the grate. because of their shape, i can pretty well ring them around the thing working in cncentric circles with the pieces getting smaller as i go to the middle, until an errant chunk or two fills in the center, then finally sprinkle a little more ub on top, taking care to try not to overwhelm. i do this with all six grates, then fold in the corners and edges of the foil underneath, cover and wrap the tops in saran wrap and refrigerate. since there isn't enough room in my fridge, i take three out to my parent's place - bet they loved me showing up at their door in the middle of the night. i didn't dare call because i didn't want to wake them up, but as it turns out, they were up anyway. tomorrow, all i gotta do is rip the saran and foil away and set them on the grate. i used to use separate platters, but after a few mishaps decided to try this.

so the hard part is done, i thought. then i get my dad's ecb and my own ecb, make sure all fittings are tight (i actually had a grate and waterpan slip off on me once and put out my charcoal) and then cleaned/wiped them down a bit and set them aside, confident that they were ready and up to the challenge. i assembled my new ecb that had been in the box (i'll drill holes in the charcoal pan tomorrow and have a little grate to put in the charcoal pan, but unfortunately the pan will still be connected to the ECB as i don't yet have all the parts to implement that mod - i'll make it work, though, i hope). so i've got my ECB platoon lined up, and somethng doesn't seem right. - !#$@%!!!! gotta season the new one!

as luck would have it the two cheapy wal-mart grills i got in order to get the round grill grates (to put in the bottom of the charcoal pans of the two that didn't already have a grate - in order to create airflow and help with ash choking) each have a little bag of light-the-bag charcoal - which will be perfect for seasoning the new ecb. i didn't want to use my lump because i don't have much and it is very hard to come by up here, so this works out perfectly (i think i'll be buying a bag of kingsford briquettes tomorrow, and if so, will distribute them evenly amongst the lump). so i spray the inside of the new ECB with pam and light the charcoal, which is burning merrily as we speak.

so, as of now, everything is about as ready as can be. tomorrow (later today!) we will prepare our mop that has worked very well (a combination of equal parts dr. pepper and low-sodium soy sauce with a little olive oil) and will also cut the cheapy wal-mart grill grates to fit the charcoal pans that don't have grates (2). will also prepare the wood chips. i found last week that a very good smoke flavor and aroma can be had by blending equal parts cherry, maple and apple together, and figured i will try this again later today (yes, my mind has finally accepted that it is three in the morning). for the competition. i will make a total of three foil pouches for each ecb for a total of 9, but will probably only need 2 pouches each - never hurts to be prepared, i figure. also, i will do one thing i tried once before - i'll toss a frozen can of apple juice (thawed to room temperature) into each water pan when i fill it with water. i don't have a clue if it will do anything for the flavor, but i know it won't hurt!

so, i think i am as ready as can be - utensils ready, ECBs ready, ribs doing whatever they do when they sit in mustard and rub overnight in the fridge, charcoal, wood chips foil, etc. i THINK i am prpared for an informal rib cook-off - i guess i'll find out later today.

#3 son also figured it is important to set the right atmosphere, so he filled his MP3 player with good, clean upbeat music (he listens to a mishmash of new and old country, new and old rock and even 50s and 60s stuff, so it should all be good) that we will play at our station (no tents, booths stc., this will be in a parking lot, so i'll just plug the mp3 player to the van and open the rear door, i guess.

one last thing, i have a nice finishing glaze that i prepare form equal parts cider vinegar, dark brown sugar and mustard. this will go on a few minutes before the ribs come off. i've found it to really give the final little kick that makes it all worth it.

if anyone sees anything major that i have neglected, please feel free to let me know, i will check this when i wake up and will take all advice seriously. -
one thing that concerns me is the cooking form 1-6 pm - 5 hours seems to me to be cutting it close, especially when i was considering doing the 3/2/1 thing. perhaps i will scrap that idea and take my chances with the tenderness and juiciness of the ribs without foil wrap? i don't think anyone would mind if i started an hour earlier, but at the same time, i don't want to step on any toes inadvertantly. one thing's, for sure, i will be setting up, lighting charcoal plenty early, so that i can actually start at 1 pm - perhaps a 2/2/1 will work? i don't know.
Definitely go with the 2/2/1, they should be excellent! Don't forget the camera for Qview and a pack of cards to keep the boys busy (or strike up a little side game with some locals!)
Sometimes the best results come from an impromptu performance. Good luck.
I like the enthusiasm. I'm just sitting thinking about doing a wlid turkey becausae the dang kids left the freezer door open getting an ice pop. Have everything to do it but laziness sat in last night since it is the weekend. Good luck. Let us know how it went.
One bit of advice. In all your excitement, you seem to have forgotten your wife. Wish her a happy birthday. She sounds like a gem!
Great story , sounds like fun ! good things usually come from spontaneous ideas .... GOOD LUCK to you and your team ... can't wait to hear about your experience and results !
Good call Freak!! After reading TasunkaWitko's post I got so wrapped up in the story that I forgot about wife's birthday!!

TasunkaWitko - Have a great time. Sounds like alot o fun!!!
yep! done that three times already and i think she's sick of me!

thanks all for the words of encouragement - i'll get final preparations done and go from there.

will report later ~
good luck-and remember no Qview it was just a good story-hehe. happy birthday wife-she's a keeper.
>>>she's a keeper<<<

that's the truth, guys!

ok, i've got 9 foil pouches ready with my cherry/apple/maple blend and even took a few minuets to get all three ECBs modified with the stand-aolne charcoal pan mod. only thing left to do is make the mop and fininshing glaze.

never done anything like this before and am a bit worried, but will do my best. q-view should be no problem!
Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!! is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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