View Full Version : Newbie Advice

04-01-2013, 08:28 AM
Well the title of the thread pretty much says it all. I own a hardware store in a little town in Southern Illinois and we are having our 2nd annual BBQ contest on the 13th of April. It's not a sanctioned event and we only have 3 categories (Pulled Pork, Ribs and Chicken). The proceeds all go to a Veterans Memorial our town is building. Last year was my first time in any contest after following BBQ Pitmasters on TV for a couple of years and I had a ball. I also have a lot more respect for you competitors after doing it myself, you guys work your butt off out there. LOL I can't imagine being in a sanctioned event where you have to dress up the box and cook a whole other category. Anyway last year out of 13 teams I was 6th and I won 3rd in Pulled Pork (trophy proudly displayed at the store). I'll tell you a little of what I did last year and what I'm thinking this year and tell me what you think.

Last year for my pulled pork I used an injection the night before that I got off line from Chris Lilly that consisted of some apple juice, and a few other ingredients. I used Plowboys Yardbird for my rub after injection it and let it set overnight. We got up there at about 2AM to get the fire going and put on the butt. I let it cook three hours on the grill with the fat side up and then I removed and foiled for about another 8 hours. After I let it set for a few minutes I just tore it up, added some Head Country Original and a little more rub and turned it in to the judges. I'm thinking to not change it too much but I might add a little rub to the injection and I might not cook it quite so long, I was the only one up there cooking at that time, everyone else fired up around 5 AM. Thoughts ? Suggestions?

Last years chicken I used a technique from howtobbqright.com and I used a brine of Italian Dressing ( didnt have all the ingredients for their brine so I substituted) The next day I patted it dry, added Plowboys Yardbird, melted 4 sticks of butter in an aluminum pan, added some rub to the butter and placed my chicken in it skin side up and cooked at 275-300 for an hour. I then took the chicken from the pan and coated it again with rub and put it directly on the grill. Once the chicken hit 165 I started saucing with Blues Hog Original. After the chicken was done I dusted a little more rub and brushed a little more sauce. This year I'm looking for any small tweaks to make it better. I'm honestly thinking of using Head Country instead of Blues Hog. Thoughts? Suggestions?

Last years ribs I tried to do a Johhny Trigg style rib, but I had no idea how much to use of the ingredients (that's the trick huh? LOL) I used Bone Sucking Rub, then put it on the grill for about 3 hours (St. Louis Style Ribs). I pulled them from the grill rubbed on some Tiger sauce, put on some honey and brown sugar, foiled it with a splash of apple juice and grilled another 2 hours. I removed from the foil, put on a bit more rub and grilled 30 minutes on open grill, then added 1/2 and 1/2 mixture of Blues Hog Original and Head Country Original. This year I'm considering using Blues Hog Rub and either getting a suggestion on how much sugar, honey, etc to add or just using a mop I found on howtobbqright.com and forgetting the Trigg style ribs. Once again I'm thinking about just using Head Country only this time. Thoughts? Suggestions?

I guess the reason I'm considering going with all Head Country this year is because it placed for me last year and I personally don't care for the Blues Hogg because its too sweet for my taste. The judges arent official judges just local politicization and business people from my community so I'm thinking they like the same taste I do. Logical?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

04-01-2013, 08:49 AM
What are you cooking on? Knowing that would help us with good advice.

Just a couple of thoughts in general...

For the pork, my gut is that you should cook it longer before foiling. When I do butts I cook them until the bark is the color that I like and then foil. With my cooker that is usually about 6 hours into the cook. Also, cook the butts until a thermometer probe or skewer goes in with little to no resistance in several places. I would also try to time the cook so that you can rest the butt at least two hours in a dry cooler. That helps the juices recirculate and gets flavor deeper into the meet.

I'm the wrong person to ask about chicken :-D I like Head Country and that isn't a bad choice. Or, you can thin the Blues Hog with some apple or pineapple juice to make it more like a glaze and give it a slightly different flavor.

For ribs, without knowing your cooker, the times sound about right. I cook ribs at 270 and they take 2 1/2 - 1 1/2 - 1/2 roughly. For the rub, try Yardbird. I've been using Yardbird on ribs for years. For the sugar, honey, etc., I don't use the same combo, but when I did I used about 4 stripes of honey the length of the ribs, a handful of dark brown sugar (never measured) and a couple of tablespoons of apple juice all directly on the foil. Then I put the ribs on that mix meat side down and then repeated the same on the bone side of the ribs.

I hope this helps, and remember, YMMV, and have fun!

04-01-2013, 09:11 AM
Thank you Ron_L, I forgot about the cookers. For the chicken I will be using my Big Steel Keg, and for my ribs and pulled pork I will use a new cooker I bought. Its a pull behind smoker I bought used but it came from Rural King originally http://www.ruralking.com/outdoor-living/bar-b-q-picnic-supplies/grills-smokers/grill-smoker-trailer-kit.html . I'll use apple and hickory wood on the smoker and I will use Bayou Classic Lump and apple chunks on my Keg.

I do really like the yardbird rub on everything else so I might just use it on the ribs as well. Someone told me the Blues Hog had a bit more kick so that was my thinking on that one. Also read somewhere that some people like to use bacon fat and hot pepper jelly on their ribs before foiling and found that interesting.

Thank you so much, I am definitely open to keeping my butt unfoiled longer, I personally like more bark anyway. Ever try Three Little Pigs sauces? I'm open to new sauces even though my wife might kill me. LOL She says we may have to add on to our house just for rubs and sauces I've tried. LOL

Thanks again.

Lake Dogs
04-01-2013, 09:23 AM
I try to stay away from recipe recommendations, particularly something to be "tried" at a competition for a few hundred reasons, most of them being the YMMV type of thing. Every smoker cooks different, every cook on the smoker uses it differently, everyone uses different amounts and types of wood, etc. etc. etc. It's not so much that Your Mileage MAY Vary, but more a Your Mileage Definitely WILL Vary. My suggestion has always been to try your different recipes side-by-side and develop them ahead of time. That way you'll know what tastes best. Also, I highly suggest having a few different opinions from different people; hopefully very sober people.

04-01-2013, 10:05 AM
I agree with Lake Dogs, taste is very subjective and different for every region. Think about how you want your BBQ to taste like with the "general public" in mind. I would try to layer your flavors w/out anything overpowering the other - middle of the road type of thing, then tweak a little from there. I would try to put a good bit of tasty bark in your pulled pork box- that worked for me in a neighborhood throwdown last year.

04-01-2013, 10:09 AM
A couple of minor suggestions.

Get to know the port butt. There are muscles that you want to go in the box and some you want to leave out. Be careful of overcooking. It is neat to pull a butt out of the foil and have it fall apart, but that is not going to give you the best texture. Try one of the comp pork injections.

Let us know what you are doing for chicken pieces, is this thighs, quarters, whole or what? Be careful on the brine time. Thighs are usually best after only an hour or two in brine.

If you are using a finishing rub, I would make sure it is ground very fine so there is not a granular texture. Most finishing rubs are hot and are used sparingly.

Taste you sauces both set (back in the cooker) and fresh. Sometimes the taste is brighter if you just sauce and serve.

For backyard, I would probably cook the ribs about as tender as you can get and still cut them cleanly.

04-01-2013, 11:45 AM
Thank you all, I can use all the advice I can get. We are going to do a trial run this coming weekend with sober judges (friends and family).

I used chicken thighs for my chicken pieces. I do use a finishing rub but I will be sure to grind it additionally.

Thanks again.