4th Overall in Middletown Delaware!

The picture perfect setting as seen from the Peppermonkey camp.

We decided early in the season that we couldn’t pass up Delaware this year.  It’s the only Delaware state tournament so the Grand Champion is automatically invited to the Jack Daniel World Championship Invitational Barbecue … “The Jack!”  Having had top ten finishes in both of our competitions this year, we came into Delaware confident, but well aware of the level of  competition that would be cooking all around us.

Friday evening started with Chef’s Choice and Dessert turn ins.  Our cook went well for both, but apparently the judges weren’t in the mood for what we turned in as the scores showed we landed in the middle of the pack for both categories.  No worries, we knew we weren’t there for the dessert, we were there to compete with BBQ.

Our cooking routine has finally reached the point where we are very comfortable the entire morning of turn ins.  There is always a little pressure as each box nears completion, but being organized and sticking to the same routine helps out enormously.  Our chicken was first place just two weeks ago in Annapolis and when we took a bite, we both agreed, the taste, texture and tenderness were equal to what got us that call.  At awards, as the top ten teams were called off, we realized our chicken may have not been the judge’s favorite this time.  Not only was it not top ten, it was not even top 25.  26th place chicken is not where we wanted to be, but following the golden rule of BBQ, we will not change anything for our next competition and see if we can get some better scores.

Our crystal and clay pigs watch over the meat on our Cambro.

Ribs were next and if there was a moment of stress on Saturday morning, it was when I pulled the ribs to glaze them and realized we didn’t have too many choices when it came to turn in quality ribs.  After the glaze was set we played around with each rack, tasted one or two, and realized we only had one rack that was worthy of presenting to the judges.  Earlier this season we made the mistake of adding a couple of ribs to a box to fill it up more and feel it hurt our overall score as they were not as tender as they should have been.  We learned from our mistake, stuck with cutting up only one rack and Erin did some box building magic.  5th place was the result and we were relieved that we made the right decision.

Peppermonkey camp set against the Delaware sky.

Our pork and brisket went as planned.  There were no surprises with the pork although we weren’t totally happy with some of the meat once we got it pulled.  We managed 13th which is about right where we expected to be.  After a miserable brisket cook in Annapolis, I knew just by touching it this week that we had something better to work with.  The taste confirmed that we had a decent shot at brisket and we ended up with a 5th place call for the beef category.

Delaware was a great site for a competition.  Had we thought to bring a gallon or two of bug killer, it would have been absolutely perfect.  We were very happy with a 4th place overall out of 52 teams, and technically we tied for 3rd, but our tie breaker score dropped us down to 4th.  Gonehoggin.com deserves a big congrats for their GC, good luck at the Jack!  Congrats to 3Eyz BBQ for their reserve place.  We certainly feel like Middletown will be a “Must attend” competition for us next year.  Time to gear up for Frederick, MD in just a few weeks!

Go Naked 2012 – 5th Overall


2012 began with a weekend of cooking at Mason Dixon BBQ in GreenCastle, PA.  We attended the Paul Kirk Pitmaster BBQ class on Friday, followed by the increasingly popular Go Naked Cookoff on Saturday hosted by the owner of Mason Dixon BBQ, the ever accommodating Eric Forrester.  The weather was near perfect with the exception of an occasional strong wind gust, but way better than the snow and rain from 2011.

The Paul Kirk class was informative and full of many inquisitive students eager to learn the secrets of Chef Paul’s success.  We went over the basics of trimming, preparing, and cooking all four competition meat categories (chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket) under the watchful eye of Chef Paul and Denny of DennyMike’s who supplied some rubs and sauces used throughout the class.  We also received a good education on the fundamentals of building a well balanced rub.  Greg and Penny of Spices Inc. assisted by providing a plethora of fresh spices from which we made our own rub used for cooking the chicken and ribs.  We were surprised at how good our rub ended up being considering we concocted the recipe in less than ten minutes.  We were even more surprised that we cooked a nearly perfect slab of spare ribs on our large Big Green Egg (BGE) using no foil and no spritz.  The appearance, texture, and taste where absolutely spot on!  We went into the weekend with the mind set of no matter what we learned in the class, we would not change our pre-determined game plan for Saturday’s Go Naked competition, but these ribs had us questioning our game plan…

Joel & Erin with Chef Paul Kirk on the day of Go Naked BBQ.

Saturday morning brought more sun and less wind with temps nearing 60 degrees … I would call it perfect BBQ weather.  We struggled with going against our cooking plan for ribs, but with the success we had on Friday, we decided we would try both methods.  We had six slabs so we cooked three with our fresh made rub using the Spices Inc. ingredients, and three our traditional way with our planned flavor profile and cooking method.  Go Naked only has two meat categories for judging, chicken and ribs, and a third people’s choice category of chicken wings was also thrown in the mix.  Our chicken was consistently in the top ten last year, so we changed nothing and it came out as expected.  After turn in, I predicted an 8th place call in chicken.

Ribs prepped and ready for some smoke.

A lot of fat dripped off of our chicken wings and onto the BGE plate setter which happened to be the same BGE that had our three slabs of ribs with our new rub.  They looked beautiful, but sadly they had a slightly off taste which we think was due to the burning chicken juice.  Part of us ‘maturing’ as a competitive team has been to plan for everything and then some.  An example of this is judging by taste that something will not score well, no matter how small the discrepancy seems to be, and adjusting accordingly.  We turned our attention to the remaining three slabs of ribs which we cooked in a separate BGE.  The ribs came out decent, but they didn’t make us say ‘wow’ when we tasted them.  We were able to get a box put together and turned in on time and that was it, our first competition was complete and there were no real hiccups along the way!

It turned out I was one off on my forecasted chicken placement (we got 7th instead of 8th) and we were surprised by a 7th place in ribs as well.  When the points were combined, we ended up with 5th place overall out of 30 teams.  Congratulations to 5-0 BBQ who took grand champion.  Even for a non KCBS competition, the teams that showed up to competed were very high quality teams and we consider a top ten placement a good accomplishment so early in the season.

The best part of the weekend was Friday night.  We had left our chiminea at home, so to stay warm we lit a fire in our BGE and huddled around it sharing ‘war’ stories about BBQ with our friends from Deguello BBQ, Drilling and Grilling, Tipsy Pigs BBQ, Hollywood and Swine and Porter Mac’s Rockin BBQ.  There was even an occasional appearance from Sal of Smokin Gnome BBQ who was present all weekend to help Eric with the contest … and to drink our beer!  It’s always fun the night before the cooking begins to relax with a cold beverage and learn more about the friends you are competing against.  Thanks to Eric for organizing a fantastic event and we are already blocking off the same weekend for Go Naked 2013!  Time to gear up for Annapolis the first weekend of May!

Sorry Sal, we thought it would be funny (it was) to steal and hide your golf cart!

April 10, 2012  |  Chicken, Ribs, Uncategorized  |  2 Comments  |  Share