Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Snowshoe

For the 3rd straight year, Q Haven cooked the Snowshoe Grilling Challenge in Abington, Massachusetts. We have never done well at this contest, but it always proves to be a great time, and this year was no different.

The temperatures were cold but the sun was shining bright when we arrived at the contest site Saturday morning. I'm getting better at thinning out what I bring to grilling events. They pose a challenge, as I do not bring the camper, which is packed with all our BBQ gear. There is no reason to bring it, as it is not really a kitchen trailer like other teams have. It is more for comfort during overnights, so I don't bring it.

We brought two cars, because Max would be joining us. We were on the fence about bringing him, as we were worried that he could get sick because of the cold. But we decided to bring him anyway, knowing we could always bring him inside the VFW hall if he got cold.

So we were one of the last teams to arrive, and got set up towards the back of the contest area. We were next to Lakeside Smokers, so it was all good. We were also next to the Porkaholics, who live very close to us in Eastern Connecticut and are a really nice group of people.

The first category was fish, steak or fillet. We did a couple of practice cooks leading up to the contest, and the recipe I settled on was a grilled salmon with a maple mustard glaze. The prep and cooking went well, and the fish was cooked just right as the turn in time approached. While I liked the entry, I never thought it would have a chance to take first place. But it did. Go figure.
This is the only picture we have of the fish, courtesy of

Next was pork tenderloin. I thought that turning it in as a BBQ type entry may do well, as many of the people who judge grilling contests are BBQ judges. I hit the tenderloins with BBQ rub and smoked them for a few hours, then finished them with a vinegar based BBQ sauce (three guesses).

I overcooked the tenderloins and they were dry. The entry overall was just blah. Finished 13th out of 19, probably right where it belonged.

Next was sausage fatty, which also came in 13th. This was disappointing to me, as I really thought the fatty came out great. I will just assume that either I hit a lower scoring table, or that there were some really great fatty entries and mine just didn't stack up. Either way, I was disappointed, as I felt that this was our best entry of the day.

The final category was burger. I decided after kicking around some ideas to make it with bacon, smoked cheddar and scallion mayo. This is a burger we have made at home and really liked. However, I decided to use Omaha Steak burgers, which may not have been the best idea. They are thin, and I overcooked them trying to get a perfect melt of the cheese. I'm sure the judges thought they were just pre-made frozen crap burgers, and scored them accordingly. 16th place, probably right about where it belonged.

So we finished 10th overall. A disappointing finish for sure but I was really happy to take the 1st place fish. Taking 1st in any category is an accomplishment, especially with the stout list of teams that were on hand. One of those were the guys from Wildwood BBQ NYC, who won grand championship honors.

Max had a great time with his BBQ friends too.

Thanks to Gary and Michelle Taft for running the contest. They run it with the cooks and the community in mind, a complete volunteer effort. They charge low entry fees and came up with some awesome trophies, one of which we are proud to now own. Awesome job guys!

Now it looks like we will have a little bit of a layoff. I have decided not to cook Salisbury, Maryland, and there are no BBQ contests in the Northeast until New Hampshire. We may cook the Oyster Bay grilling contest in May, but childcare logistics may make that impossible. Kind of a bummer in the short term, but the Summer schedule looks great, and it is not that far away!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looking very Delicious!
I Buy Grill Parts