Friday, July 22, 2011

Midway through the season, and we get a spanking

Seems like Murphy's law caught up to us in Kingsford, MI.

We drove safely to Escanaba on Tuesday the 12, and got some quality visiting time with my high school freinds, Mary and Gary Rogers. Mid-day Thursday, we hauled the pop-up to Kingsford, and set up camp. I still hadn't had a chance to repair either the power issues, nor the cable that popped at our last outing in Willowbrook, IL, but we were able to get things set up with what has become our usual setup for this year. We were in the same spot as last year, close to the judges temt, adjacent to the security guys Winnebago, and away a bit from the rest of the teams.

Friday morning came, and we finished setting up our site, had meats inspected, and began doing all our trimming and prep. In short, everything was going well, and as expected. No real problems or surprises.

Went to the cooks meeting at 3, about 4 we put on some chow, and I got the butts into the cooker about 7 or 8, after which we began the shot fairy rounds. That lasted until about 2-2:30 AM, and after checking the temp and stoking the cooker, it was off to bed for 3 or 4 good hours of sleep.

Saturday dawned, and we could tell it was going to be a scorcher fairly early.  I checked the butts, not yet at the temp I'd have liked, but not too bad. Everything still seemed ok. Took Ember for a walk, went and got a few pasties (pronounced pass-tee for those of you who haven't enjoyed one) provided by The Pasty Oven , and a cup of coffee.

Before I get to turn-ins and awards, I need to give a shout out to Tony and Anita, organizers of Poor-Que earlier this summer in Wisconsin, and co-facilitators of this event. Great folks who I'd be happy to see anywhere we go! They did a great job attending to everyone's needs, and making sure things went smoothly as possible. Also, a shout out to whomever booked Friday and Saturdays entertainment. Great bands!

OK, back to reality!

The reps came by around 11 AM in a golf cart with the official clock. (an atomic clock). I'd set our own to be a minute faster than the events, to avoid being late, and it was still running a minute fast when we checked against the official clock. Cool

Our freinds Mary and Gary from Escanaba, along with thier son, his fiancee, Gary's brother and sister and thier spouses all arrived just before chicken turn in. By that time the temp was way into the 80's, and the only shelter we had for our visitors was either in the pop up or under the EZ-up we were using to do our boxes.  I spoke with the security folks, and they graciously offered the shade and cooling of thier Winnebago! Thanks guys!!!

We were trying something with chicken that we'd only done once before. I won't go into the prep, as I'd prefer to keep it a secret for now, but we sent Diane to the judges tent with the box, thinking we had a minute or two to spare....
WRONG! - and for the first time in 4 years, we missed a turn in, guaranteeing us a DAL position in chicken.

Diane was devastated, and shaking the resulting funk proved all but impossible.

I thought our ribs looked and tasted great, and figured we might even get a call on them, but to my dismay, I found later that we scored dead last! I honestly didn't get it. They looked great. Texture was good as well, biting into the rib, meat came away easily in the shape of the bite, bone dried almost instantly, and the ribs were niether tough and chewy, nor mushy and fall-off-the-bone. All I can think of was they may have lacked some seasoning. And we didn't use a typical, cloying, rib-candy type sauce. Hmmmm, might have to rethink that next time!

Pork was a tad undercooked, got stuck in the "stall" longer than I'd anticipated. So pulling the entire butt was not quite possible. We were able to get a really nice sliced "money muscle" and some good meat from right by the bone however, and the box looked like it had promise. I didn't think it was going to be the 1st place we had last year, as the lettuce was struggling in the heat, but in the end, we came away with 17th.

Finally, our brisket came closest to a call at 11th.  Wow, disappointing day, to say the least!

But all wasn't lost.

First, after the ancillary and before the main awards, this event has a special award for 1 team, usually local, for best demonstrating the spirit of BBQ competition, and the fellowship and fun that go with it.
This years winner? 2 Skinny Cooks!!! Thanks to all the organizers and staff, who apparently voted on us unanimously. We are humbled, honored, and very appreciative! Second, we were also honored that our freinds son and his fiancee requested that we cook for thier wedding next August, to be held at a beautiful resort just outside Traverse City, MI, on the banks of the beautiful lake Leelenau!

All things considered, there is no doubt in my mind, we'll be back! This may be one of my favorite events all year, win or lose. Beautiful country, an event staff that all rock, and a great venue in Michigans' beautiful UP.

Big congrats to our neighbors, Foul Butt BBQ, who took Grand Champion! Bavarian Smoke for Reserve Grand, and to all those who took a walk!

We are now in a mid-season lull. Time hopefully to patch up the old trailer, if this god-awful heat wave ever breaks,  to make it easier to sell and make room for a new one, as well as to provide better heat, and easier setup for the 2-3 remaining events this summer.

And also time to enjoy something really cool coming up....more on that later!