Not even out of February, and the season has unofficially begun!
We competed on 2/16 in the annual Des Plaines, IL Winter Burnoff, held as always in the parking lot of Rand/River bowl in Des Plaines, IL.
I had a very busy work week, so didn't have a chance to do any shopping or packing until the day before. That made for a fairly hectic Saturday, but I still managed to shop for and trim all the meats (chicken, ribs, sausage, and pork tenderloin, with an optional chili contest) pack the truck, and generally get things readied. Sunday morning, we arose at 04:30, and got ourselves headed north to Des Plaines about 6 AM.
I had been battling some kind of stomach bug Saturday, and still felt pretty lousy Sunday, but we managed to push through and get all the meats done and turned in on time. As to our scores, well, we've done better.
Last year, we were in the top 10 in all categories, this year, we had one call (6th place ribs) and the consolation, we won the chili contest (Judges choice)
To be fair, chicken was my fault, I was just a little behind getting it started, and apparently, though I'd checked each piece with my ThermaPen (available at Thermoworks.com) and they all checked at 160 or above, 2 pieces in the box ended up being not fully cooked (and yes, I know it should be 165, I was counting on carryover cooking) and that KILLED our chicken scores, and launched us on our way to our second ever DAL finish. (the first was due to a chicken turn in also, but in that case it was because we missed the turn in time by a couple of seconds)
Alas, we had a great time anyway, that might have been even better had I felt ok. What we did feel great about though, was our friend Steve from the South Side Pitmen team, who earned some great calls (and nice trophies) in his first effort at doing this contest. He shadowed us 2 years ago at the event, and lent a hand with setup and tear down, and after completing one KCBS full contest, and a number of backyard events with some success, entered the burnoff for the first time!
So, with that disappointing start out of the way, we now begin our planning for the true 2014 BBQ season! Hopefully soon, the snow around our trailer will melt, and we can begin to prep for the season ahead!
There are rubs and injections to order, there is organizing to be done, and it can't get warm soon enough!
We'll be starting, this year like last, with Fremont, WI for the Masters in May cookoff . There is a 66 team limit at this one this year, and we were in early!