First Annual Cozy Fest

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!

Charring the salsa ingredients

Charring the salsa ingredients

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

Dizzy Pig Jamaican Firewalk seasoning


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.


Shown as a slider, also served as meatballs at Cozy Fest.

Shown as a slider, also served as meatballs at Cozy Fest.

Curry-ish Meatballs

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.

Dump Cake

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.

September 26, 2013  |  Dessert, Eggfest, Events, Lamb, Uncategorized  |  No Comments  |  Share

Pickin’ in the Panhandle 2013

The Dizzy Pig crew full of smiles after a well deserved Grand Champion competition.

The Dizzy Pig crew full of smiles after a well deserved Grand Champion competition.

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.

Some people really know how to celebrate a GC!

Some people really know how to celebrate a GC!

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!

September 26, 2013  |  Brisket, Chicken, Events, KCBS Competition, Pork, Ribs  |  No Comments  |  Share

5th Overall at the Blue Ridge Music and BBQ Festival


Taking home a 5th place overall at Harrisonburg.

Thank you Dizzy Pig for helping us take home a 5th place overall at Harrisonburg.

“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.

Our nice grassy spot instantly became waterfront property.  Taken from the porch of our trailer.

Our nice grassy spot instantly became waterfront property. Taken from the porch of our trailer.

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.

A broken XL Plate Setter ... Time to improvise!

A broken XL Plate Setter … Time to improvise!

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.

Luckily everything dried up within hours and it turned into a beautiful weekend for cooking.

Luckily everything dried up within hours and it turned into a beautiful weekend for cooking.

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!

September 3, 2013  |  Brisket, Chicken, Events, KCBS Competition, Pork, Ribs, Uncategorized  |  1 Comment  |  Share

Catching Up On a Hectic Summer

Finally!  We are back to getting some rib calls!

Finally! We are back to getting some rib calls!

“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!

St Mary's Battle Wagon 2

All set up for our very first cook with the new battle wagon.

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!

Look closely, yep, that says 118 Degrees!

Look closely, yep, that says 118 Degrees!

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.

Tending to the ribs at St Mary's Chicken and Ribs cookoff.

Tending to the ribs at St Mary’s Chicken and Ribs cookoff.

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.

Showing the hardware after finishing 3rd out of 60 at Bel Air.

Showing the hardware after finishing 3rd out of 60 at Bel Air.

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.


August 27, 2013  |  Brisket, Chicken, Events, KCBS Competition, Pork, Ribs, Uncategorized  |  No Comments  |  Share

9th at Middletown, Delware 2013

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.

Always a beautiful skyline from our Delaware cook site.

Always a beautiful skyline from our Delaware cook site.

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.

Cosmo is always showing support and being a team player.

Cosmo is always showing support and being a team player.

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.

DizzyFest – June 2013 Recipes!

Brian had many responsibilities during DizzyFest, including photo bombing Chris Capell!

Brian had many responsibilities during DizzyFest, including photobombing Chris Capell!

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

Smoked Salmon over Smoked Romaine Salad

Smoked Salmon over Smoked Romaine 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.

Charred Romaine

Charred Romaine

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

Curry-Ish Chicken and Grains simmering in the paella pan

Curry-Ish Chicken and Grains simmering in the paella pan

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.

Salmon Marinade:

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

Egghead Necklace

Egghead Necklace by OlivebyMC



June 3, 2013  |  Chicken, Eggfest, Events, Lamb, Seafood  |  3 Comments  |  Share

Falling Flat in Fredericksburg at the BBQ Jamboree

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.

Although the weather was better than expected, it seemed to rain on our parade in Fredericksburg, VA.

Although the weather was better than expected, it seemed to rain on our parade in Fredericksburg, VA.

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.

Erin was able to give some boxing/presentation pointers to Cooter Jackson's BBQ as they prepped for turn ins during their very first competition.

Erin was able to give some boxing/presentation pointers to Cooter Jackson’s BBQ as they prepped for turn ins during their very first competition.

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!

Always fun to see the filming of Pitmasters.  We won't spoil who won!

Always fun to see the filming of Pitmasters. We won’t spoil who won!

May 15, 2013  |  Brisket, Chicken, Events, KCBS Competition, Pork, Ribs  |  No Comments  |  Share

Near Miss in Naptown with a 3rd Place Overall Finish

Pre-awards photo.  Peppermonkeys were optimistic that they may hear their name called!

Pre-awards photo. Peppermonkeys were optimistic that they may hear their name called!

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.

Pork butt getting good color early in the cook.

Pork butt getting good color early in the cook.

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.

Chicken getting the sauce set.

Chicken getting the sauce set.

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.

May 6, 2013  |  Brisket, Chicken, Events, KCBS Competition, Pork  |  5 Comments  |  Share

We Were Too Naked at Go Naked 2013.

Well here we are; the 2013 competition season is upon us and we will once again start another quest for a Grand Champion trophy.  We had many top ten and even top five finishes in 2012, and managed to place 9th overall in the Mid Atlantic Barbecue Association for the season, but we have yet to break through for 1st place overall in a KCBS competition.  We kept with our annual tradition of making the 1st competition of the year the Go Naked BBQ Show in the parking lot of Mason Dixon BBQ Services.  We loaded up the, ‘BBQ House’ and headed to Green Castle, PA in hopes of starting the year with a bang!  Our first bang came less than a mile from our trailer storage area when oncoming traffic hit a deer which then bounced off our trailer and off to the side of the road.  Somehow we got very lucky, and besides having to remove a little venison tartar off the bottom frame, we came out of it unscathed.  I’m not sure how well Big Green Eggs can handle a direct deer strike, but had it been two feet higher we may have found out.

Our setup at Go Naked 2013.

GoNaked is organized and hosted by Eric Forrester which means it’s always a fun competition and things are almost guaranteed to run smoothly.  Despite a little breeze on Friday (something like 35 mph gusts) the weather was nice and sunny.  By Saturday it was calmer and nearly perfect for BBQ … Sauceless BBQ that is.  No, we didn’t forget anything on our packing list, NO SAUCE was the rule this year.  Only chicken and ribs are cooked with no electronic assistance at Go Naked.  The added twist for 2013 was that it was, “Even more naked” meaning no sauce was allowed for either category.

This is not a normal rule for a competition; actually this is the first time we’ve even been in a ‘no sauce’ situation.  Personally we like good dry rubbed BBQ … In our house, sauce is served on the side and rarely used, but competitions are different.  Teams were asked to ‘stay within the spirit of the competition’ when people started inquiring as to what ‘sauce’ really is.  We may have taken the spirit a little more to heart than we should have because we literally turned in dry rubbed ribs and chicken and learned that most teams still had ‘glaze’ on their meat, which based on what we were able to taste, not only blew our flavor out of the water, but also catered to what most judges have grown to expect.  Our food was a little spicy because we used mostly the same flavors we use on a sauced piece of meat, but the sweetness was lacking and we did little to make up for it.  So needless to say we did not get a call; as matter of fact the only time we heard our name all weekend was when Sal kept asking where PepperMonkey’s beer cooler was!  We finished middle of the pack which for this competition is just fine with us.  But without question, we are hoping for a strong start to the season in our first ‘official’ competition in Annapolis the first weekend of May.

Cosmo’s perplexed look when he realized we were turning in boxes with no sauce.

Congrats to those who did get a call, especially to Dan and the Drillin’ and Grillin’ crew for their Grand Champion victory.  Special thanks to Eric for having faith in us to design and make all the custom awards for this years event.  We tried to ensure that Dan knew his giant cutting board had a food safe finish on it so it was completely functional, but he made it clear that he would not be using it to cut anything on!  Great job guys!  

Dan and the Drillin’ and Grillin’ crew showing off their first ever GC trophy!

April 9, 2013  |  Chicken, Events, Ribs  |  7 Comments  |  Share

Reserve Grand Champion at the Keystone Classic

Reserve Grand Champions at the 2012 Keystone Classic

We ended the 2013 season on a high note by placing 2nd out of 58 teams at this year’s Keystone Classic.  Keystone is probably one of our favorite competitions that we regularly attend.  The staff and organizers are wonderful and very responsive to anything anyone needs.  There is always plenty of room for every team and the competition keeps growing and growing.  We would not be surprised to see 70 teams at this one in 2014.

The weekend started out a little shaky for us.  On our way up to Harrisburg, PA, we almost had an incident just outside of Baltimore.  Traffic came to an instant stop as we were cruising along and I had to get on the breaks so hard our trailer tires actually locked up and started squealing.  I didn’t even look at the cars in front of us, I was watching our Green Eggs in the rear view mirror praying they wouldn’t come hurtling out of their straps, and flying into the truck.  Luckily they held on and we have managed to avoid an incident with our fragile eggs over three years of competing.

The amazing meatballs that never made it to the judging table.

The Keystone Classic has many ancillary categories in addition to the main four KCBS categories.  Overall we did eight different turn ins this weekend.  It’s common for teams to not partake in the extra categories as it can be a distraction from the main event, but we enjoy cooking so much that we always like to try our hands at something new and see what the judges think of our experiments.  Friday night was ground beef and bologna.  Erin created a killer meatball recipe which was served with a wonderful pasta.  Unfortunately, for the first time ever, we missed our turn in window.  There is always a ten minute window when everything has to arrive at the judges tent, and if you are one second late, they won’t accept it and you have to take the walk of shame back to your camp holding your completed dish.  We were very frustrated because we have never missed a turn in.  In this case we pushed it to the limit, and that ended up being about ten seconds too late.  The neighbors enjoyed it, and we all of the sudden had plenty to eat for dinner, but we learned a lesson and luckily it wasn’t one of the important KCBS turn ins.  We don’t know anything about cooking bologna; our bologna turn in was basically a cuban sandwich and we replaced the ham with smoked bologna.  We liked it, the judges seemed to think there were better turn-ins than ours!  On Saturday we turned in the people’s choice chicken legs and also a dessert.  We didn’t win the coveted “Leg lamp” that the best legs teams receives, but we did get second place with our pumpkin spiced creme brulee.  We were given three eggs and told the only rules were to use the three eggs in a dessert.  My favorite dessert is creme brulee so this was a no brainer.  Luckily the judges liked it too.

2nd place dessert!

This was our second reserve grand champion finish, we have yet to catch the elusive grand champion, but we got within three points of it this weekend.  We heard our name on the first call of the day for the official KCBS categories, 10th place in chicken.  This was a surprise to us as we nearly avoided a chicken disaster this weekend.  That was followed by a 3rd place call in ribs; we were hoping they’d be top ten because they cooked well.  We were surprised by an 8th place call in pork.  We knew our brisket was good, and were hoping for a top ten place there as well.  That would mean a call in all four categories which is pretty rare for us, the only other time being our other RGC in Tracey’s Landing.  Our brisket ended up being 4th place.  With four top ten calls we knew we had basically hit four home runs.  Unfortunately for us, Black Cat BBQ hit two grand slams by getting 1st place in both chicken and ribs.  They edged us out by three points for the well deserved grand champion trophy.  Congrats to Jen and Jack for an impressive victory!

We used our new Green Egg to cook our chicken this weekend.  We had practiced at home and our regular cooking technique seemed to work just fine so that’s what we went with.  45 minutes into the cook we took the temperature of the chicken and knew we were slightly behind schedule.  No worries, we cranked up the heat a little and let them cook.  The second time we checked, we were still behind, no worries, crank up the heat some more.  The third check was getting close to the time where they had to come out, and they were safe to eat … barely, and far from the desired temp we wanted to achieve.  Now there were worries, and we really cranked up the heat!  We pulled them off the smoker at the very last minute and the last time I checked I was cooking them at 370 degrees, about a 100 degrees more than we normally would!  We were surprised when we tried a piece and actually really liked the texture. Unfortunately by cranking up the heat, we ended up with a little more smoke coming out of the egg than we would like, and chicken is like a smoke sponge.  It was more smoky than we prefer, so we were actually very happy to get a 10th place call after such a non-standard cook.  I guess chicken on the new Egg will require a little more practice.

The other three categories were fairly uneventful.  Everything went as scheduled and we were able to take a few deep breaths and relax after our near disaster with the chicken.  We had plenty of good ribs to fill the box, our pork was very juicy and flavorful, and our brisket was on point as it has been most of the season.  We felt pretty good after we were done turning everything in, but had no idea if we had done well enough to get 2nd place.

We had a great time as always seeing old friends and competing in our last KCBS competition of the year.  We are already looking forward to next year and will be practicing much more this winter than we did last winter.  We are so close to getting first place, we need to focus on perfecting every detail in order to push us over the edge.  Hopefully our neighbors and co-workers won’t be too sick of eating BBQ by next spring!