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BBQ cooking/competition school in May

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Since we have a few folks the board who are interested in real BBQ, I’ll post this here:  NEBS BBQ school and competition

It’s a cooking school and competition, hosted by the Northeast BBQ Society at GottaQ Smokehouse BBQ in Cumberland, RI this May.   The first day is spent learning to cook ribs and wings to NEBS Tailgate Competition standards.

From the website: “Learn to cook ribs and chicken wings on two different kinds of smokers. The class is taught by award-winning competition pitmasters, but geared toward backyard cooks that want to step up their game. Learn about the proper use of BBQ equipment, and how to leverage rubs, brines, and sauces to get the best from your barbecue.  The class includes a delicious barbecue meal. “

Day two involves again smoking ribs and wings, for blind judging.   $1000 prize money to be split, cooks who have entered more than three competitive events previously are excluded.   This is meant to be a beginners event.

Registration is just $120 ($100 if a NEBS member) for both days, and they supply everything…smokers, meats, rubs, sauces, etc.  Limit of 20 students.

I’ve no connection to NEBS, nor have I attended any of their events—but, I’ve watched too many episodes of Pitmasters, and I’d been looking for a fairly local BBQ school.  This was by far the closest and most reasonably priced.

I’m signed up!  I’d hoped to go last August, but they had to cancel that event due to RI Covid restrictions; this is the rescheduled event.

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30 minutes ago, Displaced Texan said:

I’d love to do that, unfortunately I need to save my vacation time for the move later this year. 
 

please let me know how this goes!!!

I'll plan to write a trip report. 

It's less than 4 hours from me; I'm probably heading up Friday after work (though with a 10 am start, I could also just leave very early on Saturday), then driving back when it wraps up at 5 on Sunday.  No vacation time needed!

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The event wrapped up late this afternoon.  The Saturday class was very educational-incredible instructors, including the guy ranked #3 in the country for ribs.  I must have taken a dozen pages of notes. The host BBQ restaurant provided a great lunch, then the instructors walked us through ribs and wings on a stick burning reverse flow drum smoker.  That was dinner #1, then we went to the host restaurant for a late dinner in the bar

Day 2 was the competition, after the traditional starting shot of whiskey. They provided smokers of all kinds, and a few teams brought their own.  I ended up using a pellet smoker for the first time. The $5,000 Fast Eddy was very nice, but electrical glitches caused it to shut off twice during the cook so temp control was erratic. Time was tight to get the ribs trimmed, rubbed (one commercial rub, one homemade) and on the smoker, followed by wings marinated, dried, and rubbed.  Ribs were later foiled with liquid margarine, brown sugar, and my custom sauce, while wings were dipped in a sauce and returned to the smoker to set, about the time the ribs were removed from foil and sauced.  My wife had the parsley bed turn-in boxes ready, and we made the 10 minute window for getting them to the judges table.

It was a lot of work, but we ended up with a fourth place finish overall, and a first place for ribs!  $300 prize money and a trophy.  For the ribs, we received one perfect score (appearance, taste, texture, 9, 9, 9) and three more just one point off a perfect total. 

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11 hours ago, gleninjersey said:

Pics?

I've attached some small pics.  One of the instructors talkin' ribs on Day 1, a couple of the competitor tents on day 2, the smoker I was using, after the ribs were wrapped for the competition and I'd added a sauce-warming pot made on the spot from a beer can (never put cold sauce on the meat), and our turn-in boxes.   The wings didn't place, but they sure looked good.  The ribs took the top prize.

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4 hours ago, Displaced Texan said:

That’s awesome!!! It sounds like you had a lot of fun and learned a lot!!! 
 

so jealous! 

Don't be jealous, you'll soon be surrounded by top notch BBQ schools.   You can pay the big bucks and take Aaron Franklin's brisket masterclass!

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@10X your cooking class kinda inspired me to fire up the pit this weekend. 
 

Three words, my friend.....ok, four. 

 

Smoked beef short ribs....

 

Rubbed down now, will start smoking them tomorrow! 
Also wings...gonna do some smoked wings on Monday. 

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26 minutes ago, Displaced Texan said:

@10X your cooking class kinda inspired me to fire up the pit this weekend. 
 

Three words, my friend.....ok, four. 

 

Smoked beef short ribs....

 

Rubbed down now, will start smoking them tomorrow! 
Also wings...gonna do some smoked wings on Monday. 

Nice!  They should be awesome.

I'm injecting a pork butt tonight, firing up the smoker and putting the rub on the pork early tomorrow.   If I have it on the smoker over pecan and apple by 8 am, it should be ready for a light sauce glaze by 6 pm, and we'll be eating pulled pork by 8 pm.

ABT's, too!  (smoked cheese-stuffed bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers).

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4 minutes ago, Displaced Texan said:

Love me some ABT’s!!! Cant wait to see your butt! :p

Eh.  It'll look all shriveled and crusty.   :p

Pork butt is about the least attractive food to come off of a smoker.  As you know, the magic happens when it gets shredded and served up on fresh buns with slaw and sauce on the side!

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I ran the smoker last weekend, and again yesterday.  

Yesterday I tried out a competition chicken recipe.  This was a bit of work, as it involved brining, marinating, applying the rub, the actual smoking (4 hours on apple and pecan), misting periodically with apple juice, and glazing with a homemade raspberry vinaigrette/honey sauce.   Mighty tasty when done, though!

Last weekend I made bacon-weave smoked meatloaf, a family favorite.  It's pretty easy and quick to make.

 

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2 hours ago, 10X said:

I ran the smoker last weekend, and again yesterday.  

Yesterday I tried out a competition chicken recipe.  This was a bit of work, as it involved brining, marinating, applying the rub, the actual smoking (4 hours on apple and pecan), misting periodically with apple juice, and glazing with a homemade raspberry vinaigrette/honey sauce.   Mighty tasty when done, though!

Last weekend I made bacon-weave smoked meatloaf, a family favorite.  It's pretty easy and quick to make.

 

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Lovely!!! Great job! 
 

My smoker is packed. I’ll have to live vicariously through you. 

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I've done it now--signed up for my first big BBQ competition.  I'm registered for the Kansas City Barbeque Society's "Red, White, and Que" contest in Jackson, NJ next month.

October is the last month of the points chase for Team of the Year standings, and for qualification for the KCBS World Series Invitational, so there are some heavy hitters showing up, even though NJ is a little off the competitive BBQ circuit.

As of today, there are 27 Masters teams entered (brisket, pork butt, pork ribs, and chicken), several of which have previously won at the national level.   I'm just entered in the 'Backyard BBQ' division (ribs and chicken), 15 teams entered thus far, but a couple of those teams are in the top 20 in the nation.   I fully expect to get my butt handed to me (BBQ humor), but it will at least be educational, and I'll get to sample some outstanding BBQ.

Red, White, and Que BBQ contest

 

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I've did my first planned practice cook over the weekend.  It's a lot of work running two smokers and having everything done exactly on time, to meet the turn-in window they'll have at the competition.   And it's really a lot of work to transform bone-in chicken thighs into the perfect little 'chicken pillows' the judges want to see.

The ribs were great--I've got the flavor profile and cook time pretty well dialed in.   The chicken needs some more work on the seasonings (probably tweaking the injection, the rub, and the sauce), but they sure looked good, so I thought I'd share that photo.  

 

 

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There would be time for a short brine soak, if I get up early enough (the chicken turn-in is at 2:30), and an hour or two of brine is all that is needed for chicken pieces anyway.  But the injection did a great job of keeping the chicken moist so I may just stick with that and skip the brine.   I do need to make the injection and the sauce more flavorful, though.  I've got an idea for modifying the sauce, still thinking about how to tweak the injection.  

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Well, the competition was educational, and I got fairly well thrashed by some exceptional teams.   No trophy or cash prize this time!   66 teams showed up, from 7 states.   The backyard BBQ division I was in (cooking chicken and ribs only) had 23 entries, the rest were masters teams cooking the full slate of chicken, ribs, pork butt, and brisket, on both Saturday and Sunday.  There were a number of nationally-ranked teams in both divisions, and some really impressive set-ups, custom trailers, often with separate smokers for each meat.      I got a kick out of the team that travels with the life-sized statue of Jack Daniels.  I was at the opposite end of the scale, camping in a tent and running two Weber Smokey Mountain cookers.

Things got underway each day with the traditional 9:22 am shot of bourbon (no one seems to remember how that tradition got started), though by then most of the teams have been cooking for hours.   I was happy to have the meats done to my liking in time for the turn-in windows (2:30 pm for chicken, 3 pm for ribs, missing the window by 10 minutes either way results in disqualification).   I was very happy with the ribs; I still haven't settled on the right combination of brine, injection, rub, and sauces for the chicken, but they weren't bad, and the turn-in boxes sure looked good.

 

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I did an easy one today—beef jerky.  I started with 3 lbs of trimmed top round, sliced cross-grain to about 3/16” then left overnight in the fridge coated in a commercial seasoning mix and cure.  I usually just mix up a marinade and skip the cure entirely. This morning I smoked it for 3 hours over hickory and apple wood.  Several racks worth, I just piled it onto one for the photo. 
Very tasty!
 

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