Cooked the New Hampshire Rock-n-Ribfest a couple of weekends ago. I haven't written about it yet because I've been trying to block it out.
This was our first KCBS contest in 11 months, having not cooked a contest since Harpoon. There was clearly some rust involved in our pedestrian finish, but there were some crucial mistakes that didn't help either.
I'll start with grilling. We went into the grilling contest with a plan, especially for the presentations. We had taken reserve grand champions of the last two grilling contests we cooked, and part of it was based ons the presentation s we had developed for our grilling categories. However, those presentations were based on a 9 by 9 inch turn in box.
The organizers of New Hampshire, however, provided the teams with 7 by 7 inch turn in boxes. This threw us off completely, and while I know it is a meat contest, it didn't help us at all. We got two calls in the top ten, but nothing in the top 5 or in the money.
Then came the BBQ contest Sunday. The chicken came out great. I'm really pleased with my chicken overall, it's a recipe I developed myself over time and I really like the way it is working out. 4th place.
The ribs were really bland. This is unusual for me because usually my ribs are very spicy. I didn't realize just how bland they were until I had one on Monday after returning home. The tenderness was there but they were just average. 12th place I think.
The pork, long story short it was done way too early, and by the time I went to pull it the meat was really dry. An easily correctable problem. I sauced it hard and tried to mask it, but the pork ended up in 20th place.
Then came brisket. In a nutshell, I ruined the brisket. It had great flavor and the tenderness was right on, but for some reason I was dead set on saucing it. I did, and I oversauced it, and killed it. As soon as I heard that we didn't get a brisket call I knew that I had made a major mistake. Lesson learned.
In the end, it was a decent weekend. We had a good time with friends, but I have never cooked contests with the goal of coming home with a 4th place ribbon and a check for $20 as the weekend's winnings. Unfortunately will have to wait until Harpoon to improve things. But other teams take note: I'm pissed, and I'm practicing.