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cottonquick
04-11-2013, 03:53 PM
I've been cooking with a group for several years now. We don't make a ton of events, maybe 10 a year. I hear about a lot of teams that practice between events and throughout the year. Since we never practice, I was wondering if we were the norm, or the exception to the rule?

Big Ugly's BBQ
04-11-2013, 03:56 PM
Been practicing all winter, between cooks, trying different stuff........

Gig'em99
04-11-2013, 04:06 PM
Every time I cook in the back yard, I consider it practice. I pay attention to look, feel, flavors, tenderness, temp/timing, etc.

My team actually gets together 1 or 2 times a year outside of competitions to either compete internally, (where we'll all cook our version of a meat and ask the neighbors to judge) or occasionally we'll get together for a party or something and cook/use it as practice. The internal comps we have, then set who's recipe we're going to use at the next competition. Keeps us working hard, always trying to one-up each other. Hopefully it'll make us better competitors as well.

Cast Iron Chef
04-11-2013, 04:25 PM
As gig said I try something new every time I cook. Not always a full fledged practice but keep trying different combinations of flavors and doneness.

sdbbq1234
04-11-2013, 04:26 PM
We practice, but not as much as I think we should.

But, that being said, we are doing a full blown practice tomorrow and Saturday adhering to turn in times, boxes, the whole enchilada.

Everything will probably be great; then when comp time rolls around at Salisbury, I'll suddenly have a momentary lapse of reason. :oops:

wallace

fnbish
04-11-2013, 04:29 PM
It can be hard to practice with as much time as BBQ takes up, but I try and practice as much as I can. During the season it is mostly practicing/tweaking on meats that aren't working/doing well. So last year we practiced chicken and brisket a lot :becky:. If something is doing well it can be hard to make changes, but even on those categories repitition is worthwhile.

I remember last year at a backyard MBN event we actually practiced brisket for an upcoming KCBS. And I've practiced chicken at a KCBS event on the Friday we arrived to hone it in for Saturday.

Was there a reason to your question other than just wanting to see how much teams practice in general? Like do you think you need more practice and aren't doing well at the contests?

cottonquick
04-11-2013, 04:37 PM
Not too long ago somebody asked me how often we practiced. When I said never, they seemed pretty shocked about it, so I was curious to see how other teams do it. For example, our last event of 2012 was in Oct. I don't think we even fired up the cookers until March of this year.

fnbish
04-11-2013, 04:44 PM
Not too long ago somebody asked me how often we practiced. When I said never, they seemed pretty shocked about it, so I was curious to see how other teams do it. For example, our last event of 2012 was in Oct. I don't think we even fired up the cookers until March of this year.

Yeah not everyone is into it as much as others in terms of feeling compelled to practice all the time. Some people have different goals. Some folks just want to go out and hang with their buddies/families and have a fun weekend. Some folks want to win every single time and practice a lot. So when they hear someone doesn't practice they can be shocked.

sdbbq1234
04-11-2013, 04:46 PM
A "wise" person once said, "Master one entry first". Then practice on the others.

I need to remember that..........

wallace

cottonquick
04-11-2013, 04:51 PM
We are a fairly competitive bunch and like to win/do well as much as the next team. Maybe we are the Allen Iverson of BBQ .. "Practice? ... You talkin about pratice?" haha

tiehacker
04-11-2013, 04:54 PM
Practice all year and take a lot of notes.

Mexi "Q" Tioner
04-11-2013, 04:56 PM
I've got a comp coming up on the 20th/21st and I've been practicing pretty much every weekend since Jan.

Fat Freddy
04-11-2013, 05:58 PM
I practice more with some meats than I do with others. Chicken is a whole lot cheaper than a brisket so thats what I have been practicing.

Swamp Donkeyz BBQ
04-11-2013, 06:22 PM
We have a comp tommorrow and I've got practice ribs on the pit now.

MikeJ65
04-11-2013, 06:47 PM
We are doing 6 or 8 racks of loin backs Saturday. Having a party, but it will be three different recipes and let our guests vote. Did chicken and ribs last weekend, pretty much cooking something every free weekend for practice.

I never just try to duplicate something I've done before. For the big meats, I go by memory and decide if I like the new seasoning/method better. For ribs and chicken I always cook the current comp recipe along with 1 or more different methods.

Smokin' Hicks
04-11-2013, 07:02 PM
the best way to practice IMO is to make every backyard cook a practice...paying attention to time, temp, and tenderness.....I think that's the best way to practice.....its just to hard to get the whole team together and hang out for 12 hours cooking

MattG
04-11-2013, 07:10 PM
I practice with ribs and chicken every time I cook. That being said its more about getting my time down verses my flavor profile. But I do a full out comp practice about every 1 1/2 mth.

Podge
04-11-2013, 07:31 PM
I practice more than I will willingly admit to. Cooking BBQ is like riding a bike.. once you remember, you don't forget.. Competition BBQ is like that damn X games BMX bike crap off of ramps.. Got to be 100% in tune with what you do and how you do it.

DawgPhan
04-11-2013, 07:40 PM
yeah, practice means cooking just like you would in a contest.

Practicing isnt testing out a new rub or having a party. Practice is just like a competition.

Tooling around the neighborhood on your kids huffy is not going to get you ready for the tour de france.

Podge
04-11-2013, 08:02 PM
A guy at work told me once "If you're not cooking this weekend, the guy who'll kick your a$$ is!!.. "... Heck, I cook everything as if it were a contest. I can have the entire dinner cooked and ready at the same time.. Time management can always be practiced..

Smoke&HoneyBBQ
04-11-2013, 08:05 PM
We practice at least 3x a month. Sometimes we are doing full competitions for time and others it might be throw a handful of briskets/pork butts on and try different stuff.

We have friends over for input too. They even have to fill out a judge form.

cpw
04-11-2013, 08:11 PM
95% of the time, if my smoker is running, it's because I'm practicing, and I bet my smoker is on at least every other weekend. I don't even compete that much, I think maybe 10 contests this year.

Shady
04-11-2013, 08:38 PM
Our last comp was in Oct. and I cooked all the meats three times over that time frame.
In addition I have tried chicken recipes another three times. On the 19th we will cook a full practice on time line with box turn ins.

bluzieq
04-11-2013, 08:52 PM
I practice and read bbq articles all winter, modify all spring, cook all summer, buy bigger britches in the fall.

Muzzlebrake
04-12-2013, 08:12 AM
I practice as often as I can, which is pretty frequently and probably not enough. I may not do four meats but I'm doing 1-2.

bruno994
04-12-2013, 08:13 AM
Practice...practice...practice...I'm with the majority, if my smoker is heating up, I'm practicing. I'll track times, temps, make notes to adjust my methods and timelines if need be. I only cook 6 comps or so a year, so practice is needed just to continue to progress.

PalmettoSmoke
04-12-2013, 08:28 AM
I practice my cooks and take a lot of notes. I don't do full blown competition practices where I stay out all night in the driveway, make boxes, etc...

Hawg Father of Seoul
04-12-2013, 08:37 AM
An NFL player does not get better playing the game. They get better by breaking it down and practicing pieces.

cottonquick
04-12-2013, 08:40 AM
I knew we'd be in the minority, but I didn't realize that most teams do practice with some regularity. But, we've always been a team that sort of does everything by the seat of our pants...haha. We've got a contest coming up pretty soon. I might just have to throw some ribs on a cooker this weekend.

Old Virginia Smoke
04-12-2013, 08:40 AM
we're doing a full dry run practice on the 20th. Since we are preparing for our first comp, we thought it would be good to do to get feel for everything. and see if we forgot anything.

Lake Dogs
04-12-2013, 08:44 AM
I've never competed in anything that I didnt practice. IMHO you plan to fail by failing to plan (aka. practice).

Alexa RnQ
04-12-2013, 08:50 AM
Yeah not everyone is into it as much as others in terms of feeling compelled to practice all the time. Some people have different goals. Some folks just want to go out and hang with their buddies/families and have a fun weekend. Some folks want to win every single time and practice a lot. So when they hear someone doesn't practice they can be shocked.

True, my first thought was "That's even a question?" :wacko: Our practice theory is summed up below in my sig. You know it's only a theory though, since we didn't crack a cooker open from November to March LOL.

When there's no practice outside of competition, then every competition essentially becomes a practice session.

That's not to say that's necessarily a bad thing -- if the goals of the team are clearly defined. If the goal is to go hang out and have a good time, that's perfectly fine -- contest expenses are then the cover charge for doing so. As long as everyone on the team is satisfied with the defined team goal, then no friction will result.

tnjimbob
04-12-2013, 09:02 AM
We practice two meats at a time, adhering to turn in times, comp prep and even turn in boxes. Since I usually put together our turn in boxes, I have the guys slice and prep turn in meats in different ways so I can practice different turn in box layouts. We document everything on a cook form and take pics of practice turn in boxes - just like we would in an actual comp.

Shiz-Nit
04-12-2013, 09:04 AM
I am practicing pulled pork this weekend.

8 butts all 8 will be tested with diffrent injections, rubs and sauces. Also all 8 will go into KCBS style boxes for friends to judge. Just like I would do at a Comp.

cottonquick
04-12-2013, 09:18 AM
True, my first thought was "That's even a question?" :wacko: Our practice theory is summed up below in my sig. You know it's only a theory though, since we didn't crack a cooker open from November to March LOL.

When there's no practice outside of competition, then every competition essentially becomes a practice session.

That's not to say that's necessarily a bad thing -- if the goals of the team are clearly defined. If the goal is to go hang out and have a good time, that's perfectly fine -- contest expenses are then the cover charge for doing so. As long as everyone on the team is satisfied with the defined team goal, then no friction will result.

As a team our No. 1 goal has always been to have a good time. If you don't enjoy it, then it is not worth doing. No. 2 is we want to do well. If we don't do well at an event we'll try and figure out why and improve on it at the next cook. We've learned an awful lot by screwing stuff up. haha

Pole D
04-12-2013, 09:23 AM
This has been our team's biggest issue in my opinion. I would love to get together and practice as much as we can. I practice on my own as often as I can.

Unfortunately I can't get the other two guys to meet up to even talk about practicing. I took Swamp Boys and 3Eyz class down in Winter Haven, FL and came back all pumped up ready to go. You'd think they would be ready to jump into things and see what I learned but not one sign of being interested.

Jacked UP BBQ
04-12-2013, 09:57 AM
Our practice is when we roll in the morning of turn ins and we overslept an hour, all of our smokers are cold, our ribs are way behind schedule and we need to figure out how to get it all in order. There is no way to practice for the way we cook.

rexbbq
04-12-2013, 10:11 AM
I practice all of the time. It is the only way to test out different sauce and rub combinations.

fnbish
04-12-2013, 10:46 AM
This has been our team's biggest issue in my opinion. I would love to get together and practice as much as we can. I practice on my own as often as I can.

Unfortunately I can't get the other two guys to meet up to even talk about practicing. I took Swamp Boys and 3Eyz class down in Winter Haven, FL and came back all pumped up ready to go. You'd think they would be ready to jump into things and see what I learned but not one sign of being interested.

Yeah that kind of sucks. Maybe they just think you now have it all figured out now :becky:. I'm not a huge control freak (realtively speaking), but I'm glad that I'm the only one in the mix that calls the shots/has the final say in terms of when I practice and the road our team BBQ will go. I had no idea how our team would evolve, but I was into it the most and took the reins and no one else said otherwise. I like it being this way. Sometimes it would be nice to have others working on it too, but if I only have to worry about me then I know stuff will get done.

Wampus
04-12-2013, 12:45 PM
We're a 2 person team and we live an hour apart, so practice isn't frequent, but we do practice before we start the season up and if we have a long break between contests.

Once we get cranking we typically don't have more than 1 weekend off between cooks and rarely have more than 2 weekends between. There are some months this season where we'll be competing like 6 out of 8 weekends. We've got like 18-19 on the schedule for this year so we'll be busy.

We DO notice that when we are in the groove and doing back to back to back cooks, we do better. We're in synch more. We have a timeline and a system that we don't really need to practice, but we do need to be comfortable with it.


If anything, we practice to test new recipes or "tweaks" to current ones. Side-by-side comparisons are invaluable.

rooftop bbq
04-12-2013, 12:54 PM
I hate to admit it but i never practice. With the amount of competitions were doing this year. Its hard to do bbq on the weekends off

fnbish
04-12-2013, 01:43 PM
I hate to admit it but i never practice. With the amount of competitions were doing this year. Its hard to do bbq on the weekends off

Definitely true that when things get rolling putting practice in between competition can be hard. Almost at that point the competitions are also practice, so it is like killing 2 birds with 1 stone :-D.

ViciousGame
04-12-2013, 04:55 PM
I practice brisket & pork butt twice a month. I practice ribs about once a month. I rarely practice chicken. It's not that I'm that overconfident, it's just that it's so tedious and I hate prepping it. LOL

I know I should practice chicken more, but I just don't have the time and to me, it's the easiest to cook and turns out great 95%+ IMO.

INmitch
04-12-2013, 08:16 PM
Got a new smoker first part of Decemeber. Didn't trust it the first two comps this year so I took the ole battle wagon. I've done 3 practices with it. Only one with meat.:crazy:
I don't trust my neighbors or my (smoke n vodka filled) taste buds to make a flavor profile decision. My comp results tell me if I need to do some tweeking.
After the results next week at Winchester TN.......I'll be able to answer a little more accuratly.:rolleyes:

Big Poppa
04-12-2013, 11:53 PM
I never practice........


Ok too many people know the truth I practice all the time...Im in New York right not get back and 6 pm tomorrow and already have two briskets to trim.

sitnfat
04-13-2013, 04:22 AM
I practice almost every weekend. Builds up my beer tolerance for Friday night at a contest.

mikeraba
04-13-2013, 05:30 AM
Like some of the others said here, every time I cook, I do it like it's for a competition. I don't make turn in boxes, but I do slice brisket for presentation. You're out there smoking meat anyway so it's good practice.

daveinwestmont
04-13-2013, 01:42 PM
Yep most weekends I run the cooker unless plans don't allow. I try to cook one comp meat and something else to mix it up. Tomorrow its chuckies and ribs.

djqualls
04-13-2013, 04:12 PM
I've done 5 so far this year and am practicing ribs and brisket as I write this.

sdbbq1234
04-13-2013, 04:17 PM
Well, if our practice run for all 4 meats last night and today is any indication of our cooking next weekend at PITP, nobody else has to worry about us.

Chicken was about the only thing worth even mentioning. Perfect bite thru skin, nice moist and flavorful.

Ribs? Got a schitty batch from RD. But, no excuse for over cooked product.

Butts? Over-cooked! MM was so soft, it just feel apart trying to slice. The rest was "ok", but nothing that would bring home any money or trophy.

Brisket? Over-cooked! Also, too salty! Tried a new recipe for injection; will not repeat that.

WTF!!!

One HUGE plus me for is that the BWS Fat Boy and BBQ Guru allowed me to get about 4 hours of sleep. Nice!!!

Oh well, gotta start getting ready for next week-end.

Sure hope things are better.

wallace

boondocksmokers
04-13-2013, 05:09 PM
I practice at least twice a month and usually a couple of weeks before a comp...I put a lot of time and effort into practice runs so that I will be ready on game day....This includes cooking in the rain and all types of weather (including hurricanes) lol.

AppalachianAmericanBBQ
04-13-2013, 09:49 PM
We are a new team with just our 2nd comp coming up here in a few weeks in Annapolis. We have two goals. #1 have fun. #2 dont come in last. That being said everytime we cook in the back yard (almost every weekend .... even all winter long) we consider it as practice.