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NJ BBQ (was: BBQ cooking/competition school in May)

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1 hour ago, 45Doll said:

OK, who's going to get the first TV contract?

I’m pretty sure it won’t be me, but I want to recommend a most excellent new BBQ show, in which I might have appeared way in the background of an episode filmed in NJ, had I not been travelling that weekend.

BBQ USA premiered recently on the Food Network, and I highly recommend it!   

https://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/bbq-usa

 Chef Michael Symon travels to some of the biggest BBQ competitions in the US, and usually follows the progress of four teams over the weekend.  He really captures what goes on at a BBQ contest, from prep, cook, judging, regional variations on Q, etc.    I’m enjoying it more than BBQ Pitmasters, as that show stages a competition just for purposes of the show, and they make up a few rules as they go along.  

Anyway, there are six episodes this season, filmed at:

  • Rythym and Ribs BBQ Festival, Tifton, GA
  • Olathe BBQ Championship, Olathe, KS
  • Cedar Fest BBQ Cook-Off, Cedar Park,Texas  @Displaced Texan, you'll get a kick out of this one
  • Smoke on the Falls Competition, Gadsden, AL
  • New Jersey KnoQ-Out, Blairstown, NJ      
  • Memphis in May, Memphis, TN

 The first three episodes have already aired, but they are re-running them, and they are probably available on demand.  The one I’m really looking forward to is the one filmed in April, at the New Jersey KnoQ-Out competition in Blairstown, NJ.  That was a full two-day competition, with 50 Masters teams (chicken, ribs, pork shoulder, brisket) plus a couple of dozen teams in the backyard division (chicken and ribs only).  It airs on Monday August 8 at 9 pm.

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Has anyone here invested into a blackstone? I bought one last year and just find it underwhelming. Its basically a less effective cast iron pan since you cant baste steak on it. It is on the other hand great for simple things like burgers, hotdogs, and a large breakfast for a group of people which i never have over. 

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I’ve never personally desired a black stone. I don’t cook for big groups where I would need a flat top. My grandmas big ass cast iron skillet fills that role for me. 
 

 

I AM considering a new smoker though….not sure what I want. 

11 hours ago, 10X said:

 

I’m pretty sure it won’t be me, but I want to recommend a most excellent new BBQ show, in which I might have appeared way in the background of an episode filmed in NJ, had I not been travelling that weekend.

BBQ USA premiered recently on the Food Network, and I highly recommend it!   

https://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/bbq-usa

 Chef Michael Symon travels to some of the biggest BBQ competitions in the US, and usually follows the progress of four teams over the weekend.  He really captures what goes on at a BBQ contest, from prep, cook, judging, regional variations on Q, etc.    I’m enjoying it more than BBQ Pitmasters, as that show stages a competition just for purposes of the show, and they make up a few rules as they go along.  

Anyway, there are six episodes this season, filmed at:

  • Rythym and Ribs BBQ Festival, Tifton, GA
  • Olathe BBQ Championship, Olathe, KS
  • Cedar Fest BBQ Cook-Off, Cedar Park,Texas  @Displaced Texan, you'll get a kick out of this one
  • Smoke on the Falls Competition, Gadsden, AL
  • New Jersey KnoQ-Out, Blairstown, NJ      
  • Memphis in May, Memphis, TN

 The first three episodes have already aired, but they are re-running them, and they are probably available on demand.  The one I’m really looking forward to is the one filmed in April, at the New Jersey KnoQ-Out competition in Blairstown, NJ.  That was a full two-day competition, with 50 Masters teams (chicken, ribs, pork shoulder, brisket) plus a couple of dozen teams in the backyard division (chicken and ribs only).  It airs on Monday August 8 at 9 pm.

Cedar Park is the next town over from me! I’ll check that out! 

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21 minutes ago, Displaced Texan said:

Cedar Park is the next town over from me! I’ll check that out! 

That episode aired Monday evening, I think they replay it a couple of times this week before the next episode airs next Monday.  The show website may have the full schedule.

Enjoy!  They spend a good bit of time talking about the tradition of Texas brisket.

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On 3/1/2021 at 9:34 AM, 10X said:

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.

I am new to this forum, do they have any other events like this planned by any chance?  Would love to join!

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21 minutes ago, Jim Jones said:

I am new to this forum, do they have any other events like this planned by any chance?  Would love to join!

NEBS doesn't have one on their calendar this year, which is a shame because it was an exceptional (and low-cost) event.

NEBS event calendar

Mason-Dixon BBQ has a few boot camps still coming up this year, but all are sold out for 2022.  I recommend them highly, if you can register next year.  Mason-Dixon BBQ boot camp

You can search for events and classes on the KCBS website, but I know the list of BBQ classes is very incomplete.  https://mms.kcbs.us/members/evr_search.php?org_id=KCBA  Still, they don't come up often in the northeast.

The third and final NJ competition of the year is the Red White and Que contest in Jackson, in October.   https://campgroundbbq.com/red-white-q

 

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8 hours ago, 10X said:

NEBS doesn't have one on their calendar this year, which is a shame because it was an exceptional (and low-cost) event.

NEBS event calendar

Mason-Dixon BBQ has a few boot camps still coming up this year, but all are sold out for 2022.  I recommend them highly, if you can register next year.  Mason-Dixon BBQ boot camp

You can search for events and classes on the KCBS website, but I know the list of BBQ classes is very incomplete.  https://mms.kcbs.us/members/evr_search.php?org_id=KCBA  Still, they don't come up often in the northeast.

The third and final NJ competition of the year is the Red White and Que contest in Jackson, in October.   https://campgroundbbq.com/red-white-q

 

Thank you!!!

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15 minutes ago, 10X said:

Just a reminder, BBQ USA's episode shot at the Blairstown, NJ Jersey KnoQ Out BBQ competition is airing tonight, 9 pm

On Optimum, The Food Network is channel 29.

NJ BBQ Competition show airs Aug 8

On the Optimum lineup out of Sparta ( formerly SECTV) which serves Sussex County the Food Network is 59/559HD.

Thanks for that. I just DVR'd it.

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I'm now registered for this year's Red, White and Que BBQ competition in Jackson, NJ next month.  With only 8 spots left open, they have 28 teams entered in the Masters division, and 26 in the Backyard division.   I've ordered team shirts, which should help improve on our 16th place finish last year.   :D

So, I'm back to doing lots of practice cooks in the two WSMs.   I tried a new (to me) Blueberry Bourbon BBQ sauce on the chicken last weekend.   It's really good, but the color is such an intense purple that it makes the chicken look almost black...so not something I'll be giving the judges.  But if you want to give it a try, here is the recipe.

image.png.e6eb53aa8e3c9b1a283b2507cafa299b.png

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On 9/8/2022 at 12:50 PM, 10X said:

the color is such an intense purple that it makes the chicken look almost black...so not something I'll be giving the judges

food for thought (no pun intended) ... looking at the ingredients it's a basic BBQ plus blueberries - maybe sub cranberries and because they're tart, not so much, maybe 1 cup?

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We did another practice cook today for next month's BBQ competition.  I think I finally have the flavor profiles I want for both meats, but I'm up to 5 rubs, 4 sauces, two fruit juices, a brine, an injection, plus honey, brown sugar, and margarine for the rib wrap.

But they are tasty!

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What role does the meat play in this artform, and if it's somewhere between important and critical how do you ensure you buy a good base product?

Or to phrase this another way, do these extensive treatments make a plain or even sub-par piece of meat very tasty?

I prefer primarily filet mignon fairly rare and don't really do much to it, so for me the meat is critical. I discovered buying the whole tenderloin and butchering it myself most often gave me the best results. (At a price point that wasn't ridiculous.)

I do however get the slow cooking part completely. After pan searing a tenderloin roast I bake it at 250 until it reaches 140 internally. Then when I cut it I have a thin crust of seared/medium meat followed by 98% really medium rare. The way we used to bake one at higher temps yielded 1/3 well done, 1/3 medium, and 1/3 medium rare in the center. Definitely inferior for our pallets.

Hat tip to Alton Brown and Good Eats for that method.

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17 hours ago, 10X said:

We did another practice cook today for next month's BBQ competition.  I think I finally have the flavor profiles I want for both meats, but I'm up to 5 rubs, 4 sauces, two fruit juices, a brine, an injection, plus honey, brown sugar, and margarine for the rib wrap.

But they are tasty!

7CFFFFA2-62A9-41F4-86B8-986C2351B18C.JPG

IMG_3637.JPG

IMG_3630.jpg

 

10X a true NJGF Renaissance man.

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46 minutes ago, brucin said:

10X a true NJGF Renaissance man.

I'm just cooking meat on fire, as popularized back in the stone age.   :D

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6 hours ago, 45Doll said:

What role does the meat play in this artform, and if it's somewhere between important and critical how do you ensure you buy a good base product?

Or to phrase this another way, do these extensive treatments make a plain or even sub-par piece of meat very tasty?

I prefer primarily filet mignon fairly rare and don't really do much to it, so for me the meat is critical. I discovered buying the whole tenderloin and butchering it myself most often gave me the best results. (At a price point that wasn't ridiculous.)

I do however get the slow cooking part completely. After pan searing a tenderloin roast I bake it at 250 until it reaches 140 internally. Then when I cut it I have a thin crust of seared/medium meat followed by 98% really medium rare. The way we used to bake one at higher temps yielded 1/3 well done, 1/3 medium, and 1/3 medium rare in the center. Definitely inferior for our pallets.

Hat tip to Alton Brown and Good Eats for that method.

Now you've made my hungry for tenderloin!    Like you, I picked up a whole one recently, and trimmed it and cut it into steaks.  I probably hadn't done that for over a year; I was due!

Slow cooking really comes into it's own when dealing with tough, less desirable cuts, that's the origin of BBQ (smoke + heat), as opposed to grilling.  It let the early practitioners take cheap cuts of meat, like a pork shoulder, and turn them into something wonderful.   Briskets are the way they are because cows don't have collarbones into which the front legs connect.  I've heard a butcher say the brisket is all that holds the front end of a cow together, so of course it has to be a tough, fibrous mass of muscle.

I don't run with the big dogs in BBQ competition, but I know the top end Masters teams (they have to cook brisket, pork shoulder, pork ribs, and chicken) will invest in Wagyu brisket, and heritage pork like Duroc or Piedmontese to get more fat marbling in the meat.  Since that isn't a thing for poultry, everyone just seems to pick a favorite local brand, though they may lean towards organic and free range.  They also cook a LOT of meat.   The turn-in box must contain at least six servings, but teams will often cook 24 chicken thighs (or much less often, legs), 4 racks of ribs, 3 or 4 pork shoulders, and 2 or 3 briskets.  All to make sure they can get six perfect servings delivered within the 10 minute turn-in window. 

I'm not that invested, and I'm competing in the Backyard BBQ division, which while done to the same standards, only includes chicken and ribs--no overnight cook for the brisket and pork shoulder.   For cooking at home, I use Costco meats almost exclusively; can't beat the price, quality is good, and they actually carry the big cuts of meat.   All I do differently for competition, and for the practice cooks, is get the meat at Wegmans.  They offer two advantages; the ribs are packaged individually instead of in three packs, so you can look for racks closely matched in size and weight with uniform fat marbling between the bones.  Uniform size and shape helps them all finish at the same time.  I've been using their organic chicken as well, even though I otherwise ignore the organic food aisles.  But their organic chicken thighs are packed flat in 4-packs, so you can make sure the pieces are very close to each other in size, and the skin isn't punctured or torn.  So I'm essentially using ordinary meat, carefully chosen.  I cook a dozen thighs and three racks of ribs.

I don't know how much difference it makes; I did get certified as a BBQ judge this year, but have yet to judge a competition, so I've not tasted the full range of what gets turned in.  I do think it's still possible to win or place very high (especially in the Backyard division) without buying the ultra high-end meat, so that's what I'm working on. 

 

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19 hours ago, 10X said:

We did another practice cook today for next month's BBQ competition.  I think I finally have the flavor profiles I want for both meats, but I'm up to 5 rubs, 4 sauces, two fruit juices, a brine, an injection, plus honey, brown sugar, and margarine for the rib wrap.

But they are tasty!

7CFFFFA2-62A9-41F4-86B8-986C2351B18C.JPG

IMG_3637.JPG

IMG_3630.jpg

 

All these recipes and practice test require a group tasting. We will tell you the truth .

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3 hours ago, 10X said:

I'm just cooking meat on fire, as popularized back in the stone age.   :D

Or brought into the 20th century on cable TV by "Biker Billy Cooks With Fire".

Regarding your BBQ ranking: from where I am you appear to be a god.

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12 hours ago, 45Doll said:

Or brought into the 20th century on cable TV by "Biker Billy Cooks With Fire".

I'd not heard of Biker Billy previously (thanks for calling him out), but I checked out one of his old episodes on his website.   Kinda what one would expect if Crazy Eddie did a cooking show.  Gotta appreciate his devotion to cooking with hot peppers, though.   The first recipe that came up on his site is for blueberry habanero pancakes. 

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15 hours ago, 10X said:

Slow cooking really comes into it's own when dealing with tough, less desirable cuts, that's the origin of BBQ (smoke + heat), as opposed to grilling.  It let the early practitioners take cheap cuts of meat, like a pork shoulder, and turn them into something wonderful.   Briskets are the way they are because cows don't have collarbones into which the front legs connect.  I've heard a butcher say the brisket is all that holds the front end of a cow together, so of course it has to be a tough, fibrous mass of muscle.

I don't run with the big dogs in BBQ competition, but I know the top end Masters teams (they have to cook brisket, pork shoulder, pork ribs, and chicken) will invest in Wagyu brisket, and heritage pork like Duroc or Piedmontese to get more fat marbling in the meat.  Since that isn't a thing for poultry, everyone just seems to pick a favorite local brand, though they may lean towards organic and free range.

Our local grocery chain regularly gets prime brisket, and I’ve seen ‘Wagyu’ brisket (although I don’t think it’s REAL Wagyu beef). 
We also get heritage pork. I love that! 
 

Any way you look at it, brisket is a low and slow affair, but starting with a better grade of meat makes a big difference in the outcome. 
 

 

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23 hours ago, 45Doll said:

What role does the meat play in this artform, and if it's somewhere between important and critical how do you ensure you buy a good base product?

Or to phrase this another way, do these extensive treatments make a plain or even sub-par piece of meat very tasty?

@10X was spot on with his response here.

23 hours ago, 45Doll said:

I prefer primarily filet mignon

FWIW, this is my least favorite.  Tender?  Yes, but practically no flavor (because there's very little fat).

My preferences in order of flavor are skirt steak, hangar, rib eye, beef ribs, brisket (the point not the flat).

23 hours ago, 45Doll said:

After pan searing a tenderloin roast I bake it at 250 until it reaches 140 internally.

A temp of 140 is quite beyond rare, I think you want 120 to 125.  What you might want to try is a "reverse" method where you sear it last.  If you use a sous vide method, you can easily get it to 120/125 with zero risk of going over, and then give it a quick sear in a very hot cast iron pan.  Many of the fancy restaurants are doing it this way these days.

23 hours ago, 45Doll said:

The way we used to bake one at higher temps yielded 1/3 well done, 1/3 medium, and 1/3 medium rare in the center. Definitely inferior for our pallets.

Yup, the links I provided above explain why.

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28 minutes ago, 10X said:

I'd not heard of Biker Billy previously (thanks for calling him out), but I checked out one of his old episodes on his website.   Kinda what one would expect if Crazy Eddie did a cooking show.  Gotta appreciate his devotion to cooking with hot peppers, though.   The first recipe that came up on his site is for blueberry habanero pancakes. 

Yes Billy's use of the word 'fire' definitely referred mostly to spice, although flame was frequently involved.

3 minutes ago, YankeeSC said:

FWIW, this is my least favorite.  Tender?  Yes, but practically no flavor (because there's very little fat).

My preferences in order of flavor are skirt steak, hangar, rib eye, beef ribs, brisket (the point not the flat).

That's my wife's complaint about filet mignon, and why she prefers NY Strip. I confess I do use horseradish with it.

We both really like skirt and hanger steak. I have a marinade for that prior to grilling.

5 minutes ago, YankeeSC said:

A temp of 140 is quite beyond rare, I think you want 120 to 125

Our definition of rare must be different. When I started out and only went to 120-125 we both thought that was pretty raw. 140 (after rest) is where we both like it.

Thanks for the sous vide pointer. Never heard of that but I'll look into it.

Bon Appetite!

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14 hours ago, 45Doll said:

Or brought into the 20th century on cable TV by "Biker Billy Cooks With Fire".

Regarding your BBQ ranking: from where I am you appear to be a god.

Fun fact:  One of the guys in my car club is a childhood friend of his.  I got him to get an autographed picture for my wife who loves his show.

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1 minute ago, CMJeepster said:

Fun fact:  One of the guys in my car club is a childhood friend of his.  I got him to get an autographed picture for my wife who loves his show.

Now that I think about it, isn't he a NJ guy? I seem to recall his show was on a NJ local access channel, not a national network.

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The Red White and Q competition in Jackson this past weekend didn't go as well for me as I'd hoped; actually finished lower than last year, though I thought my entries were pretty tasty!    I drove two hours to the site Friday night, just in time for the cook's meeting, followed by setting up camp and kitchen in the dark.  Temps dropped to a chilly 34 degrees overnight; I think I"m getting too old to be sleeping on the ground on nights like that.   My wife, ever the smarter half of the team, drove down early the next morning.
 
Entries were down a little this year, and last year's Grand Champion didn't return to defend.   I only entered for Saturday; it's too much work in my opinion to do it all again on Sunday, but most of the teams do exactly that!   I had the meats ready and the smokers coming up to temperature in time to slip away for the traditional 9:22 am shot that team members gather to drink at competitions.   Then it was heads-down work right up to the 2:30 turn in for chicken and 3:00 turn in for ribs.
 
There were a few flaws in the chicken turn-in box, and I'd gone a little over the target temperature; finishing 16th out of 24 perhaps wasn't a surprise. The ribs were just where I wanted them for degree of doneness, I liked the flavor profile, and I had the prettiest turn-in box I've ever assembled.   They finished 20th...  So I've got some work to do...
 
On the other hand, the team currently leading in the points chase for the KCBS National Championship was there, and finished 9th.   So I wasn't the only one disappointed.
 

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We hosted a holiday party for my SCUBA club yesterday.   We made it a pre-Thanksgiving dinner, and smoked the turkey, using both Zatarains Cajun injection and Zatarains Cajun rub on the bird.  It was a 12 lb bird, smoked about 6 hours over apple and a bit of pecan wood.  It turned out very nice, though a little salty since the only turkey I could find had been pre-injected with broth/table salt/sodium phosphate (most commercial turkeys are).   I skipped the brine for that reason, but it would have been even better without the commercial pre-injection.

I tried a new gravy recipe from the "Meathead--the science of great BBQ and grilling" cookbook, and we really liked it.  You fill a pan with chicken broth, cut up onion, carrots, celery, lots of fresh and dried herbs, and the various bits trimmed from the turkey.   The pan goes on the lower rack, the turkey above it, for four hours, to cook the pan contents and catch the turkey drippings.   The the broth gets filtered off, defatted, and boiled on the stove to concentrate it a bit.  It's kept thin, so it can be lightly spooned over the turkey after it is carved and the meat soaks up the flavor and moisture.   I'll be doing that again.

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I just ran across a pretty cool video done by Tuffy Stone at this year's Jack.  The Jack Daniels Invitational is one of the premier BBQ competitions, and probably the one hardest for a team to score an invitation.   Best not to watch when you're hungry, there is some really mouth-watering food being prepared.

The 2022 Jack Daniels Invitational

An older, but very interesting write-up on the Jack was done by Harry Soo of Slap 'yo Daddy BBQ.  It goes more into the whole Jack experience.

https://www.slapyodaddybbq.com/2012/10/jack-daniels-invitational-lynchburg-tennessee-october-27-2012/

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