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Monday, June 23, 2008 

The Merrimack Rockin' Ribfest - Day Two

(Note: I posted three times today. Go down three posts and work your way up if you want to read this in order)

As much as the grilling competition was a happy surprise, the barbecue competition was a supreme disappointment on a number of levels. Now that I’ve had the time to think back on it, I’m not at all surprised it turned out the way it did. I was not there with my A game. In fact, I wasn’t there with much of a game at all.

The problems with the event really began the week before. I was unable to get pork shoulder and brisket in the size range I’m used to working with, each of them coming in less than five pounds the usual. Because of the distinct size difference in the meats I was working with, I found myself with little to do on Saturday evening. Usually, I have my meat on the pit by 8:00 so that it can come off the pit mid-morning and be put into a hot box for turn-in later that day. This night, it wasn’t on until much later. With all of that extra time, I did things that I don’t usually do when I cook for a contest. And that was the killer.

In addition to the bad performance of the chef, Mother Nature also decided to make the day a challenge. At about 12:55, right when our pulled pork turn-in was being boxed, the wind went from gusty to hurricane-like. I was standing on one side of our tent holding it down as Farmer Girl was putting the box together. It was exciting! Fortunately, our little tent stayed on the ground long enough for her to walk the box to the turn-in table and come back to strap it down with our ratchet straps (Thanks to Eric of Yabba Dabba Que for his method of tying down a tent! We used it, sans the spackle buckets to save our tent – the buckets will be purchased next week!).

Yabba Dabba Que's tent strap system is brilliant.
If my memory serves me right, Eric was (or is) an engineer.

Once the brisket went out, we quickly tried to break stuff down before the tent took off. Eventually, it got too out of control and, with the help of barbecuers and civilians (special thanks to Tim from Feeding Friendz for giving us a hand), we got it down and stuffed it into my trunk before it flew off. The rest of the afternoon was a whirlwind – literally. The rain that followed the stiff wind was incentive to load up quickly. By 3:15 we were loaded and headed over to the awards ceremony.

Ironically, it was my chicken that scored the highest (8th).
I smoked it in the weber instead of the BWS.

Ribs - I wasn't happy with these. I did a number of things to them
that I don't usually do. Where was my head?

Pulled Pork - Both shoulders were underdone. One was mushy, which,
if you cook shoulder only happens when it's overdone. Weird.

Brisket - Not done right. That's all I can say.

As I expected, there were no calls for us on Sunday, and the resulting score sheet was the worst showing we’ve had for a couple of years. Only the 8th place in chicken was a positive. Truth be told, I’m glad it happened the way it did. Falling on my face so majorly was a great reminder that I can’t give this hobby only a fraction of my attention. If we’re going to win, I need to know what I’m doing and execute that plan to the very best of my abilities. As captain of this team, that’s my job!

This coming weekend is my first full weekend at home without any major plans, and I intend to spend Friday night cooking barbecue and paying darned close attention to what I’m doing. Lake Placid hits in two weeks. I’ve got a lot of work to do before then!



Well, you're already working on the lessons learned and that is one of the hallmarks of a good team. We know y'all can cook with the best of them any given day. Sunday just wasn't one of them.

Your BBQ is a Thing of Beauty...

I am organizing a BBQ Cook Off August 16th 2008 Central Islip New York, 11722

www.LIBBQS.com find applications on event page. Please help us get the word out we need good teams like yours ...All The Best Tom

LIBBQS has been created to help promote real BBQ, Both Restaurants and BBQ Cook Offs on Long Island.

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