We started our 2014 season early and then hit a very long lull in our competition BBQ season primarily due to a couple of our favorite competitions being cancelled this year. Work and life quickly filled in the available time on our calendar but starting in August we will be back at it!
We’ve competed in three KCBS competitions this year and it seems that the category we struggled with in 2013 (ribs) we are now scoring well in, and the category we routinely scored high in (brisket) we are now struggling with. Chicken and pork seem to be hit or miss for us on any given day. We’ve been doing some practicing during our couple months of down time and hope we have found a way to bring everything up to the top. We shall soon find out how we match up amongst the other cooks as we have three competitions in August against some of the best teams On the East Coast.
We have some of the best sponsors any team could hope for and we absolutely must thank them for having the confidence in us to represent them. Thank you Dizzy Pig for providing us with the freshest and most flavorful rubs available. We’ve been cooking at home for years using the various Dizzy Pig flavors and it’s all we use on our competition meats. Over the years, our personal collection of Big Green Eggs has led many to believe that we were a BGE distributor or dealer. Although that is not true, this year we are fortunate enough to have full sponsorship by Big Green Egg and they have been very kind to us. We hope we can make them proud and represent the brand well! Finally, we need to thank Smokeware for providing us with custom engraved caps for our family of Green Eggs. The only downfall to our competition set up is that the Green Eggs are exposed to the elements. These caps ensure that wind and rain have zero affect on the consistency of our cooks and will be very valuable to us throughout the season. Thanks to all of you and we look forward to a continued relationship!
It’s time to get to prepping for this weekend’s Southern Maryland Brew and BBQ in Leonardtown, MD. We are hoping that when they are calling off the top ten teams overall that PepperMonkeyBBQ is the last team to be called!
When Don called and asked us if we’d cook at the first annual Cozy Fest in Mt. Airy, MD we did not hesitate to say yes. For several years we have raved about his ability to host a great eggfest. He has a knack for creating the perfect environment for eggheads to show off their recipes and allows them to interact with everyone that gets to taste the food. Cozy Fest was a hit for a first year eggfest and the venue has lots of room to grow for future events. As promised, we are posting all the recipes we used this weekend, enjoy!
Grilled Pineapple Salsa
1 head pineapple, cored
1 T finely diced red onion (or to taste)
1 bunch cilantro
2 fresh jalapeños
2 fresh poblano peppers
Slice around pineapple core, then cut into slices or wedges. Liberally apply Dizzy Pig Jamaican Firewalk seasoning, and grill direct over high heat. Remove when grill marks form and pineapple softens a little. Add jalapeños and poblanos or any other pepper you prefer to the grate. Remove when charred all over. Let the peppers rest until they are cool enough to handle, then rub the charred, papery layer of skin until it is removed; finely dice. Dice the grilled pineapple into small cubes. Add diced pineapple, peppers, onion, and chopped cilantro in bowl, mixing until combined well. Add salt and pepper if needed, to taste.
4 lbs hamburger meat (can substitute ground turkey or lamb)
4 T Dizzy Pig Curry-ish seasoning (to taste)
¼ C finely diced onion
¼ C crumbled feta cheese
1 small package frozen kale (thawed and liquid squeezed out)
Add all ingredients to large bowl and mix with hands until combined; be careful to not over-mix or the meat will become tough. Roll into 2” balls and add to hot grill. Cook direct over hot coals until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees, or approximately 7-10 minutes. Move each ball to ensure even cooking as needed. Top with tzatziki, sriracha mayo, or condiment of choice. We used store-bought tzatziki from Costco, but it is very simple to make at home as well.
Tips: When making a recipe like this, we usually make a very small patty that we cook first to taste and make sure our seasonings are where we want them. If they are not, we can add more to taste. This recipe can also be used to make patties for burgers or sliders.
1 package cake mix of choice
2 cans pie filling or canned fruit in heavy syrup
1 stick melted butter
Add fruit of choice to bottom of cake pan or dutch oven. Sprinkle cake mix on top of fruit, then pour melted butter on top of cake mix. Cook on grill or oven at 350-375 degrees until the top browns a little and the edges are bubbly. This can take 30-60 minutes, just keep an eye on it after the first 30 minutes, checking every 15 minutes after that.
For this Eggfest, we used confetti cake mix with strawberry pie filling for one cake, and canned peaches with about a cup of thawed blueberries and butter cake mix for the other.
For the past couple years we have always left Pickin’ in the Panhandle empty-handed. This caused us to really second guess competing in West Virginia this year, but after some discussion we decided to give it one more try. Our results were eerily predictable. Actually, our scores were all over the place, which seems to be the trend for us and others this year; however, our overall placing was 16th … in 2012 it was 15th … in 2011 it was 14th … It doesn’t take an analyst to see we are trending in the wrong direction here! Ok, we all know that one place here or there is simply the name of the game in competition BBQ, so actually this shows we’ve been very consistant overall in WV, it’s just too bad that it’s consistantly out of the top ten. Next year we could be easily convinced to seek another competition during this week.
We did manage to get two calls at awards, 9th place chicken and 8th place pork. Our ribs hurt us at 29th and brisket was not muvh better at 26th. We were 16th overall out of 37 teams, but it wasn’t because the rub we were using wasn’t the best there is! We did get a chance to celebrate a victory this weekend when our sponsor and good friends of the Dizzy Pig crew heard their name three different times: 1st place ribs, 2nd place pork, and GRAND CHAMPION! These guys did an awesome job and hopefully they will be cooking at ‘The Jack’ in 2014. We had a great time cooking adjacent to them (except for that stupid fence they had in between the teams) and really enjoyed celebrating late into the night on Saturday.
We opted to cook at an Eggfest instead of cooking at Shenandoah this year, so the pressure will be off for a couple of weeks, then we are going to build on our record for most comps in a season and do three back to back cooks in October, starting with the Keystone Classic in Harrisburg, PA. Really hoping to finish strong this year after a summer of ups and downs.
Dizzy Pig, Dizzy Pig, Dizzy Pig!
“Maybe we should add Blue Ridge even though that would make it four weekends in a row.” That was the discussion we were having as we pulled out of the Sam’s club parking lot after a less than stellar performance. Experienced teams will tell you, although it seems like an unbearable amount of time and effort, it’s almost easier to just keep cooking every weekend because you get into a rhythm that makes everything run more smoothly. We have done three in a row more than once, but never four in a row. After some discussion, we decided to give it a shot. Although we were in a ‘rhythm’ of cooking, a variety of factors made this weekend anything but normal for us.
We signed up only days prior to the event, and I was out of town up until Thursday evening, so we were already out of our routine by having to pack late Thursday night not having trimmed any meat at all. We arrived early Friday to the fairgrounds and had our choice of spots to set up the battle wagon. We chose the nice grassy spot with easy access to electricity and water. The rain was still coming down but appeared to be letting up. We were happy to see our friends from Old Virginia Smoke setting up right next to us as the final rain shower kicked up, then got heavier, and heavier … and heavier. Next thing we knew, water was building around us and then we saw the dreaded flash flood forming. It was moving slowly, but steadily towards the battle wagon. The drainage ditch didn’t have a chance at handling that volume of water and I scrambled to ensure the eggs were off the deck in case it sank into the ground, and I managed to get our electrical cord a foot above ground just in time. 30 seconds later, our grassy spot had been consumed by water carrying all sorts of debris. Thankfully, the rain subsided and the water actually drained off completely within a couple of hours. We did have to wade through some water to help move the Old Virginia Smoke camp to high ground, I ‘m guessing Lucas will add water wings to his packing list after this. Hopefully this was not a sign of how the rest of the weekend would go.
With our new water front property drying up, I rolled the eggs back onto the deck and started prepping them for cooking. The first one I opened was our rib cooker and I found that our plate setter had broken into many small pieces. This is the key piece that allows us to cook indirectly vs. grilling right over the coals and isn’t something we that we keep as a spare part. We decided to wrap a cookie sheet in foil and hope that it was enough to keep direct heat off of our ribs. I finally started trimming meat around 3 pm and couldn’t help but to feel really behind. Between meat trimming and injecting and the cooking we did for Erin’s work function the following Monday, we were busy right up until 9 pm which is usually when we are trying to take a quick nap prior to cooking.
The actual cook went well. There were no surprises and our jerry-rigged rib cooker seemed to be working just fine. We did discover that our ribs came out a little darker than they normally do, which may or may not have been due to the slight change in our set up. They weren’t overdone, just dark. By the time we turned everything in, we felt fairly confident in all categories and knew that regardless, it was in the judges hands. We had made a prior agreement with Old Virginia Smoke to taste each others brisket after turn ins. We both complimented the other on what seemed like a really good brisket cook. Lucas told us he felt we would get second or third and we said they were right there with us.
At awards they only called the top five in each category so we were not sure how we were doing because we didn’t hear our name for a while. Finally when they got to brisket they called Old Virginia Smoke for 5th place … Then we got our brisket call, 4th place! His forecast was slightly off, but we got a kick out of the fact that we felt our brisket tasted similar and then we placed side by side. We ended up getting three top ten places and 5th place out of 28 overall. 9th place chicken, 21st place ribs, 9th place pork and 4th place brisket. Not a bad finish for us in Virginia. We do our best to remain objective and unbiased about the judging because it is out of our control. We must bite our tongues after this competition because it would be very easy to say, based on the information on the score sheets, that there seemed to be some issues with one of the tables of judges and with ensuring some teams didn’t have their food landing on the same table more than once. But, like I said, it’s old news and out of our control. 5th place overall is one of our better finishes in the state of VA so we will take it! Congrats to the Fire Fighting BBQ Team for RGC and hats off to Hollywood N Swine for their first ever Grand Champion. We all know you have put in more than your share of blood sweat and tears over the years and it was good to see you holding the trophies!
Overall, we had a good weekend in the beautiful Virginia countryside with good friends. We certainly laughed a lot and we were blessed with the opportunity to try the “best cheese fries” which interestingly enough have been hiding from us at the Sheetz gas station. It was a memorable weekend to say the least.
With Tracy’s Landing cancelled this year, we will spend a rare weekend at home over the Labor Day holiday. Most likely we will be doing a practice cook or two in hopes of really dialing in our ribs and pork for the remainder of the season. Next stop, West Virginia!
“I think I found our trailer” was all I heard as Erin rushed into the door over the 4th of July weekend. It’s no secret that we have been jealous of everyone with a dedicated competition trailer, and many people have heard us complain about not being able to store our RV at our house which has been a point of frustration for us for a very long time. We had a dream list of what we wanted in a custom trailer and we had not been able to find one that met all our needs to include being built on a compact 20 foot frame. This new find had nearly everything we wanted, it was used which meant it was about 1/2 the price of having one made. After many discussions, phone calls and Facebook messages, we were headed to pick up our new trailer ……… In Louisiana! It was well worth a three day round trip of doing nothing but driving. Now we have a trailer, it’s time to get back to the competitions!
We have been told for years, “You have to compete in Louisa, it’s beautiful down there.” We finally made it there this year and it was beautiful, but man was it HOT! Note the photo of the thermometer, yep, that’s 118 degrees. We decided not to take the new trailer with us because we would have had only a few days to make the transition from the RV; so we were cooking in the sun as we have for the past few years. The ‘Virginia curse’ was still with us as we finished 19th overall out of 45 teams. We have yet to figure out why judges don’t like us in VA, but we will keep trying. Our category results were: Chicken – 22nd, Ribs – 23rd, Pork – 27th, Brisket – 7th. We were happy to get that brisket call otherwise it would have been another day of just watching everyone else get awards! Congrats to 3 Eyz for taking the grand and a special congrats to Pavone Brother’s BBQ on their first ever reserve grand champion placing!
With our new ‘battle wagon’ prepped, the next weekend we headed down to southern Maryland to the beautiful St. Mary’s area. This was the first ever competition down there, but it won’t be the last. It wasn’t a full KCBS event, it was only a chicken and ribs competition, and that was the perfect time to break in the battle wagon. Mike did a fantastic job of organizing this and with plans for making it a full sanctioned KCBS competition in 2014, he’s certainly on the right track! We learned a lot about the battle wagon and were able to iron out the minor nuances of our cooking process while getting a couple calls and a 4th place overall out of a field of tough competitors.
Our first full KCBS competition with the battle wagon was in Bel Air, MD. We have never competed in Bel Air although it has existed for 12 years now. We signed up soon after we acquired the new trailer knowing that Bel Air was infamous for cramming teams into small spaces. The new trailer allowed us to pull in and occupy a minimal amount of space and we were excited to see how we handled cooking all four categories with our new set up. They placed us next to our sponsor, Dizzy Pig, and 3 Eyz so we knew we were amongst some seriously competitive teams. Things went well for us and we were thrilled to get a call in both chicken and brisket and to end up 3rd out of 60 teams! Congrats to 4:20 for their GC and to Firefighting BBQ Team for their RGC.
We went into week three of consecutive weekends of cooking by competing in the Sam’s Club National BBQ tour in Laurel, MD. Sam’s Club has a limit of 30 teams for the local events, then the top six from the local events move onto a regional event, then the Finale. Because of this bracket style set up and the high dollar pay out, it’s a popular event attracting the best of the best to compete with many left hanging on the wait list hoping for a chance to show their skills. We were able to get in as one of the 30 teams and the battle wagon proved again that it has really increased our efficiency. The cook went off without any real headaches, and after turn ins, we were packed and ready to drive away by awards time. Although we got two top ten calls in both chicken and ribs, that was not enough to get us into that top six that moved on to the regional competition. We still felt good about our scores and knew that we were cooking well, which left us eager for another competition. Congrats to the BBQ Guru for their GC and to Aporkalypse Now on their RGC. Hopefully we can put the battle wagon to good use as we move into the fall season and wrap up 2013 with some nice trophies and top finishes.
We are a little behind with the blog, but quite honestly, even though we did two competitions in June, there isn’t a whole lot to say. In mid June we headed to Frederick, MD for the Swintetastic BBQ festival. We enjoy this competition and have been there to watch it grow all three years that Chris has hosted the event. We had good weather and had a great time as always. We had several friends come by and they got to taste all of our food, which of course they loved, but the judges weren’t all that impressed with what we cooked.
Fortunately we carved out some time in Frederick Friday night to relax and enjoy some good food with good friends. We had talked to Brian, marketing director with our sponsor Dizzy Pig, at their semi-annual Dizzy Fest event a couple weeks prior and we mentioned we had some fresh rockfish to cook up at our house. Brian claimed to make some killer rockfish cakes so we coordinated a Friday night dinner at Swinetastic where he was competing with his team, Brown Liquor BBQ. We provided the fish and Brian came through with some great cooking. The Brown Liquor crew are great hosts and certainly a fun group of guys. Maybe we should have enjoyed Friday night a little more and just headed home because we certainly didn’t impress anyone with our finish of 14th out of 63 overall. Our chicken came in way lower than we were hoping at 39th. There’s a common concept on the BBQ circuit that whatever category you think is your worst usually does the best, and we proved that by getting 5th in ribs. This was truly a shock to both of us. Pork has been strong for us this year, but it was only strong enough for 23rd. Brisket did not do much better with 21st. We certainly could have done worse than 14th, but we left Frederick knowing we didn’t perform like we are capable of, and wanted to completely redeem ourselves in Palmyra, VA.
The following week we pulled into Palmyra, VA for the BBQ Bands and Brews competition. John did a great job of putting this second year event together with 25 teams competing. We had not been to this part of Virginia and the landscape really is beautiful … this is a competition that has potential to grow and we hope we are able to return next year. This was a special weekend for us as it was our anniversary and luckily I was able to find a company that was willing to deliver flowers right to the PepperMonkey camp. Just minutes after they were delivered, we were reminded of just how nice the people we compete with are when Theresa and her husband from Bellwood BBQ came over with a bottle of champagne and some chocolate pigs to congratulate us on our anniversary. I should add, we had NEVER MET Bellwood BBQ in person and were only familiar with them through the BBQ Brethren forum. What nice folks. We repaid the gift by making them mimosas Saturday morning.
As far as the BBQ, we did hear our name a couple of times at awards, and barely finished top ten overall at 9th place. Our chicken did not do well, 20th. For some reason it came out a bit more spicy than it has during other cooks and that did not get us points. Ribs were 15th and that’s probably where they belonged. Our big meats got us the calls with a 10th place pork and a 2nd place brisket. We started slow with brisket this year, and have since reverted to the recipe that was successful for us last year and low and behold we got second place. We will see if this category can stay strong for the remainder of the season.
We are now on a break for a few weeks catching up on some things around the house and getting a head start on some custom BBQ awards we are making for some friends. Our next stop is the Que and Cruz in Louisa, VA. So many teams tell us what a great event this is, it’ll be our first time there and we are really looking forward to it. And yes, we are really hoping for a strong finish, even if it means we get a little wet ! (That will be explained in the Louisa post in a couple of weeks).
We held our own at Middletown and managed to walk away with a top ten overall finish; however, our performance wasn’t really one to brag about.
We always enjoy competing at Middletown. Mose does a great job coordinating the event. We commented when we pulled in on Thursday evening that this was one of the few events where we have zero questions when we arrive. We knew where to set up, where everything was located, how to reach key people, etc. Great job Mose.
On to the cooking! Our routine has not changed all year and this weekend was no different. We were right on schedule with every category. When it came time for boxing and turn in, Erin was just about to place the last piece of chicken into the container when she noticed the bottom was charred, ok, burnt. Evidently a grate got too hot while our sauce was setting and it burned on the bottom. Luckily we always turn in at the beginning of our ten minute turn in window and this is exactly why. We decided to empty and rebuild the box. The couple of pieces that were charred were removed, the box was rebuilt, and easily turned in on time. Had Erin not caught this, our chicken scores certainly would have suffered, instead we came in 8th place. Our ribs were a little flat, nothing too exciting and our scores showed it with a disappointing 22nd place. Based on our recent rib failures, we may look at a small change in this category. Pork has done well for us so far this year and the look on Erin’s face prior to boxing it told me that the streak was about to come to an end. We discussed our pork as we tasted various parts and the parts that usually go into the box were not up to our standard. The box did come together although it didn’t have quit as much meat in it as normal. Erin’s boxing skill helped us pull off a 3rd place and considering the fact that it was a near disaster, we were pleased. Brisket did not go well for us, and the judges were being kind by giving us 34th place. Along with ribs, brisket has been a consistent problem area this season. We’ve already made a change for Swinetastic in June, so we’ll see if we can get our brisket scores up to where they were last year.
Although we were top ten, we feel like it was a middle of the pack cook for us because our lows were really low. We have already brainstormed what needs to change before we head to Frederick, MD in mid June. This competition is full of 65 powerful teams, so we will have to work hard and have a near perfect cook if we want to hear peppermonkeybbq get called during awards.
Hard to believe it’s already time for the first DizzyFest of 2013. We spent the first three weeks of May competing in KCBS BBQ competitions and with the help of our Dizzy Pig sponsorship we finished in the top ten in two of those three competitions. There’s no better way to relax after a grueling month than an eggest and Chris and the Dizzy Pig crew put on one of the best eggfests in the area! We had a great time, enjoyed some great weather, and yes, we’ve already signed up to cook for DizzyFest5! Thanks to the entire crew for putting on a great event.
We had many requests for our recipes and instead of handing out recipe cards, we promised to post the recipe and cooking instructions for the dishes we served up at DizzyFest. This way they can be accessed at any time, and if you use the recipe and find a way to improve it, you can interact with us and everyone else by posting what you’ve done! If you know Erin at all, recipes are all in her head and rarely are actually measured or portioned out. Because of this, we will mostly just list ingredients and when possible try to approximate a measurement. Keep in mind it’s all done to taste and you should be tasting as you go!
Smoked Salmon over Grilled Salad
Take one salmon filet and marinade overnight in an asian style marinade (recipe below). Set up your egg to cook indirect at approximately 275 degrees. We use alder chips over the coals for a gentle smoke flavor. Dust the filet with a heavy coat of Dizzy Pig’s Raging River followed by a lighter coat of Dizzy Pig’s Pineapple Head rub. Let sit for 10 minutes before cooking. Place the salmon in the smoker and cook to an internal temperature of 138. If you like it more firm, cook to 145. This should take approximately 45 minutes.
For the salad, set up an egg for direct cooking at about 400 degrees. Cut romaine hearts in half lengthwise, drizzle with olive oil and lightly dust with Dizzy Pig’s Shakin’ the Tree. Place on grate to char each side. This should only take a couple of minutes per side, just keep an eye on it. Slice zucchini and treat it the same as the romaine using the oil, same rub, and char for a few minutes on each side over direct heat. We like to throw a few green onions directly on the grate at the same time as the zucchini just to give it a little char as well. Chop grilled ingredients and toss with salad ingredients and toppings of your choice. We used Erin’s favorite green olive antipasto from Costco: Mezzetta Italian Olive Antipasto, crumbled gorgonzola, and our new favorite salad ingredient… roasted pistachios. The dressing we used was really just a mixture of a pre-made caesar dressing from Costco, mixed with the juice from the olive mixture and a little bit of walnut oil and jalepeno olive oil. You can use whichever ingredients and dressing you prefer. Have fun with it!
One-pot Curry-ish Chicken and Grains
We us a true 12″ paella pan as it really does a good job of cooking evenly over direct heat. Set up your egg for a temperature of about 325 then put your pan on to pre-heat. The goal during this cooking process it to just keep things simmering and adding ingredients as you go.
Start by cooking chicken in a little olive oil until cooked through. Add chopped cauliflower and a generous amount (about a palm full) of Dizzy Pig Curry-ish seasoning. Add rice or grain mixture of your choice, we used a Mediterranean grain blend, again from Costco, with enough water or chicken stock to cover all the ingredients. Let simmer and add liquid if it begins to become to dry before your rice or grains are cooked. Stir as needed to keep the bottom from getting overdone. This process is similar to cooking a risotto. Once your grains are close to finished, add 1/2 can of garbanzo beans and continue simmering. Once the grains are finished and most of the liquid has been absorbed, add 1/2 can of coconut milk and continue cooking approximately 3 more minutes until the coconut milk has mixed in and had chance to be absorbed. Taste as you go and add season salt and/or Curry-ish if you think it needs it. A quick zest of lemon would be great right at the end. Hmmm… we’ll have to try that!
Again, this is approximate. Be sure to taste as you go and make changes if necessary.
1 C Soy Sauce
2 T Brown Sugar
1/4 C Mirin (you can substitute maple syrup for both the brown sugar and/or mirin)
1/4 C rice wine vinegar
Generous squeeze of Sriracha
2 T Sesame Oil
Generous amount of freshly grated ginger
1 t Five Spice Powder
2 chopped scallions
A few people asked us about our PepperMonkey Lamb meatballs that we had cooked at other EggFests. We were fortunate this year to have the recipe published in Paul Kirks newest book, “America’s Best BBQ – Homestyle: What the Champions Cook in Their Backyards.” After the book was published, Epicurious selected our recipe as their recipe of the day. Click here if you’d like to view this wonderful lamb recipe!
And Finally, we had many inquiries about the necklaces we make to include the butcher block cow, pig and the “Egghead” necklace. As promised, here is a link to our Etsy site, OlivebyMC. We have set up a discount code for all you eggheads so when checking out, make sure you put in the discount code: dizzyfest
We traveled to Fredericksburg, VA last weekend to compete in the BBQ Jamboree for the first time. This was a large competition with 60+ teams battling for bragging rights. It was a fun competition and we enjoyed seeing some old friends that we haven’t seen since last year. After a strong third place finish in Annapolis the week before, we were less than thrilled to never leave our seat during the awards ceremony.
Our chicken came in 20th; our ribs were scored at a near all-time low for us at 43rd. This was surprising because the cook went well and we were pleased with the box we turned in. Pork placed 11th and brisket landed at 13th. All this added up to a 22nd overall finish. Further evaluation of the scoring sheet showed that there were high and low scores coming from the same table in the same categories. Even appearance was ranging from 9 to 7 which we normally have a little more dialed in.
We are going to write the Jamboree off as a bad day for us and not make any changes heading into Middletown, DE this coming weekend. We evaluated how our entire cook went and will ensure that we really focus on every detail and take nothing for granted. When 60+ teams of this caliber come together, letting any minor detail slide could cause scores to wander. Congrats to Beerbeque and to Hog-IT-Up BBQ on their Grand and Reserve Grand finishes. These guys really cracked the code on consistency as they got calls all day long at the awards ceremony. We were also happy to see Dizzy Pig only a few points behind for a strong third place finish. Great job to all! We also enjoyed cooking next to Cooter Jackson’s BBQ, a new team cooking at their very first competition. These guys had obviously done their homework and we expect to see them cooking at more competitions this year. As for us… we are prepped for our third competition in a row and will be showing up to Middletown with our game face on!
Our first full KCBS event this year left us thirsty for more competition by teasing us with a 3rd place finish. With two more back to back competitions coming up in the next two weeks, we’ll get to see if we simply had a lucky opening day or if we are still cooking as consistently as we were at the end of 2012.
Although we left last season with a Reserve Grand Champion finish, we made some pretty significant changes this year to most of our recipes. Primarily, we were not happy with the rub we had been using. Granted, the rub is only part of the equation, but it is still an important part to us. Thanks to our Dizzy Pig sponsorship, we are now very happy with our flavors and getting far better color on our meats than we were last year. Thanks Dizzy Pig!
We also made the decision in the off season to expand our cooking space. We invested in our 7th … yes 7th, big green egg, and most recently added a BBQ Guru Onyx Oven to the collection. Having another egg allows us to cook each meat separately which some would say is too much work, but with green eggs managing four or five fires is not that difficult (if you are doing the math we can now leave two smaller eggs at home)! The Onyx is too new for us to really know the best way for us to use it, but we will be slowly working it more and more into our cooking schedule.
So the results … First place chicken! We had a good chicken cook and tweaked our presentation which the judges seem to really enjoy. Our ribs came in 6th. It was a pleasant surprise that they made top ten, so we were happy to hear our name twice in a row at awards. Then came a second place pork call! It will be exciting to see if our pork can keep scoring well. We broke the unwritten rule about making more than one change at a time to any category in order to keep track of how the change affects your scores. This year we changed it all because we were bored with our pork. We came to Naptown with new rub, new injection, new cooking technique, even a new box design, and at least this time it payed off. Brisket was the category that sank us, we ended up 24th and were not all too surprised. Of course we tried something new here too, but rest assured, we are going back to our mildly successful 2012 recipe for the next few competitions.
We cannot complain about our 3rd place overall finish. Jacked Up BBQ took Grand Champion and 3 Eyz BBQ took reserve. These guys are some of the best, so hats off to both teams for another great day of cooking. We are already packing to head to the BBQ Jamboree in Fredericksburg, VA next weekend, and then the Middletown BBQ Cookoff in Delaware the weekend after. Hoping we see some consistency throughout these competitions.