This was a week of redemption for us. Just three weeks ago we were driving back from Pittsburgh trying to figure out what went wrong after completing our worst competition of the year. It is hard to look at your scores for your dead ass last pork and not want to make drastic changes, but we knew deep down we had to stick with the logical advice we’ve received from other successful teams all season long (Thank you Deguello, Dizzy Pig and 3Eyz). We knew our pork at Pittsburgh was not consistent with what we had cooked all year, and our very minor changes to our chicken seemed to have brough our chicken closer to the top than it had been in the last few competitions. So what did we do different at Tracy’s Landing? Answer: Nothing. We pushed our last competition out of our minds and focused on the task at hand. We had the added pressure of making sure we didn’t embarrass ourselves in our home town and in front of family because Erin’s dad and stepmother (Tom and Renee) flew into town from Florida just to see us compete. This was our first time cooking in front of family.
The Mullins’ and crew did a great job of organizing the event and getting everyone in position as early as Thursday night. They hosted a competition that really went smoothly from our perspective. Kudos to everyone that volunteered to support this Elks Lodge sponsored competition, we think it’ll be even bigger and better in 2013. We ended up setting up camp next to Big Bully BBQ, a team we had never met, but hope to cross paths with again. A great group of guys (and gals) who shared a few tastes of some delicious home made sauce in exchange for a few box building tips. Friday night the weather was warm and clear and after the eggs were set up we cooked a great salmon dinner for Tom and Renee and welcomed them to the neighborhood.
Saturday was the prep day because Tracy’s Landing is unique in having the actual competition on a Sunday (If you are taking votes Dave, we’d still like to see it happen on a Saturday)! We were happy with all our meats so prep was a non event. With all the dirty work done, we again cooked for the family and then settled in for a relaxing evening of storm watching and chatting over a few drinks with Dan from Drilling and Grilling. We always enjoy our conversations with Dan and appreciate his laid back attitude. Just before we called it a night we checked the weather radar just in time to throw on a t-shirt and get outside to hold down our 10 x 10 and our awning as a powerful storm cell passed directly over us. We, along with everything else, were completely soaked; luckily the rain doesn’t really affect the eggs, so all was well.
The big day arrived and it was business as usual. Chicken went as planned right down to the minute and within one degree of where we like to see it. Ribs came off on time and we had more than enough to choose from. Pork made us nervous only because we had dead ass last in the back of our minds, but it wasn’t talked about and we did the best we could. Brisket gave me a short moment of panic. As I started slicing, the flat turned out to be about 1/2″ thick from top to bottom. No worries at first, but after the fifth slice I still was staring at 1/2″ thick slices due to a rather large fat pocket in the middle of the flat. I stopped, we brain stormed an alternate plan just in case the slices never improved, then I started hacking away hoping I’d find a few good slices. It turned out that we were able to get just enough ‘normal’ slices out of the end of the flat. The mysterious fat pocket vanished and all looked good. In the end our box looked identical to every brisket box we’ve turned in all year.
The work wasn’t done after brisket turn in because it was time for peoples choice pork which was served up right at our cook site. Tom and Renee went out to pimp PepperMonkeyBBQ to the locals, and our friends Peter and Jane even stopped by to offer extra hands and serve up pork to the crowd. Our allotted cups sold out very quickly and we were feeling good about the samples we gave out. We truly could not have pulled that off without everyone’s help. It really turned out to be a group effort and we no know we could not have done that with just two of us. Thanks everyone!
So on to the results … We fell a few votes short of the peoples choice award, but we certainly gave them a run for their money. Congrats to Baby got Butt for winning over the crowd with their pork! Out of 47 very good teams, we managed to get 9th place in chicken, 8th place ribs, and 3rd place pork. We have never had 4 top ten calls in a competition so a brisket call didn’t seem likely; however, we walked for the fourth category in a row to pick up our 5th place brisket trophy. We now knew this was our best competition so far and when we didn’t hear our name called in the top ten rundown, I knew we either got 11th, or 2nd … thankfully we were called for the reserve grand champion, beat out by none other than the best team in the country, 3Eyz BBQ. Congrats 3Eyz, you have pulled off the impossible and then some, keep it going! Congrats to every other team who got to walk as well.
We were grateful for the opportunity to get this call. The organizers had two large, hand carved trophies for the RGC and GC and the GC got the choice of which one they wanted. Dan Hixon didn’t hesitate to offer us the first choice of trophies even though his team earned it. We have always considered 3Eyz a class act since we met them three years ago and they have been cheering us on at every competition. It’s likely that this was Dan’s way of congratulating us for finally getting close to the top. The truth is, which trophy we carried away was the least of our concerns, so hopefully 3Eyz is happy with the one we left for them!
Thanks to everyone who has encouraged us all year. Our hard work finally paid off and now we will see just how consistent we can remain. There are three competitions left and we will be putting pressure on ourselves to be successful. Our next challenge is fast approaching as we are packing up to compete in West Virginia this coming weekend.