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71-South
11-09-2013, 10:16 PM
Hey All,

With one contest under our belts now, and hooked as can possibly be, I face a long winter of figuring out what to do next. Aside from a sh**load of practice cooks that I'm planning (and already doing), that leaves looking at our scores and putting gadgets on my Christmas list.

So, here are our scores from last weekend.

http://www.fiveoclocksoftware.com/q-pron/Harrison-Scores-11-1-13.bmp

We were very pleased with our chicken and pork (4th), but obviously need work on our ribs and brisket.

Thanks to years (literally) of reading the competition forum here at the Brethren, I'm really happy with our presentation scores. I have a tweak in mind for the ribs, but otherwise, I'm going to stand pat on presentation.

So, a couple of questions. Our ribs, right off the smoker, were dead on as far as texture goes. I obviously need to test this tip that I read, but is it better to shoot for a tiny bit overcooked knowing that they'll firm up a bit as they wait for a judges table?

Flavor-wise, our ribs were awesome...for serving to the neighbors at the back yard party. I know they need some real work, so I'm re-doing the flavor profile on them quite a bit.

We took 13th in chicken out of 25 teams. The rep told us the chicken scores that day were really high. Is this true, or does chicken just score higher, or what? I'm thinking about adding a finishing rub to make the flavor pop just a bit, but that's about it.

Brisket was good, but not great. Gonna work on the flavor profile of that as well. Same question on texture as ribs. Should I overcook it just a bit knowing it will firm up?

Also, any other thoughts and/or suggestions? All I want to do now is learn, learn, learn. I'm doing two full packers tomorrow - one for a buddy at work and one for the kids and me.

Any help and/or wisdom will be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Bret

Bourbon Barrel BBQ
11-10-2013, 01:55 PM
Don't start changing things around for at least 4 contests. You could have hit a bad table or just had bad luck that day. Until you can see a pattern consistently I wouldn't change a thing and even then I wouldn't get drastic or you will end up chasing your tail.

landarc
11-10-2013, 02:07 PM
I think you should just cook through the winter, get more solid with getting everything right where you want it, every time. Then see how next years comps go. If you see a pattern over several competitions, then it is worth changing things

Ford
11-10-2013, 05:39 PM
Practice as much as possible. Work to the deadline. Box food then wait at least 15 minutes and then taste them. One bite, if they taste like you could eat a plate full then you probably need more heat and sweet.

71-South
11-10-2013, 05:48 PM
Thanks Guys. I guess everyone goes through this when they start, but the wait is going to kill me. With the exception of what I know for sure I did wrong (ribs), I'll wait it out, look for patterns, and practice my arse off this winter. Much appreciated.
Bret

cynfulsmokersbbq
11-11-2013, 01:46 PM
I think you should post pictures of that chicken box! :)
Great appearance scores!

landarc
11-11-2013, 01:56 PM
Just to present the opposite, don't read too much positive into the scores either. You might want to take a look at the thread about TOD's. They work both ways, it is possible you landed on a few good tables, or you hit a group that just happened to be feeling good.

Just keep cooking, if your family is sick of BBQ, you are getting close.

gettinbasted
11-11-2013, 02:43 PM
You had 4 of the top 10 in the KCBS TOY chicken standings at that comp, plus several other top chicken cooks. You hit 170 on your first crack, so that is something to be proud of.

DawgPhan
11-11-2013, 03:42 PM
You are leaving too many points on the table for AP.

Any 7's in taste are killers. You should look to average 4 8's and 1 9 to even be in the running these days.

Your ribs were cooked properly. I dont know if it was over or under, but clearly not where they needed to be.

Over cooked food wins every weekend...undercooked never wins.

71-South
11-11-2013, 08:53 PM
Thanks very much, guys. I'm totally soaking all of this in. I want to learn so badly and I'm willing to work for it.

Here's our chicken box. John, from Smokin' Bad Habit (he was really nice and helpful), gave us the advice of taking a picture of the box right before turn-in and adjusting accordingly because pictures reveal things that you didn't notice before. So, after this pic, we evened out the spacing and alignment of the pieces and brushed a little more glaze on to smooth out the skins. They really seemed to look a lot better in person. :)

http://www.fiveoclocksoftware.com/q-pron/11-1-13-Chicken.bmp

The ribs, in our estimation, were cooked to the right consistency, but I think two things are at play here. One, we tasted them right out of the smoker. I have a feeling that they toughened up after they sat (we turned them in at the beginning of the allowed period) and I'm guessing that what scores is slightly more tender than what's written in the criteria.

Our ribs and brisket lacked the kind of flavor that would make them "wow" entries. Definitely going to work on that.

Good point about possibly getting the opposite of the TOD treatment. Definitely a possibility. If that's the case, I hope that happens again. :)

You are leaving too many points on the table for AP.

Any 7's in taste are killers. You should look to average 4 8's and 1 9 to even be in the running these days.

Your ribs were cooked properly. I dont know if it was over or under, but clearly not where they needed to be.

Over cooked food wins every weekend...undercooked never wins.Noted. And working hard to improve. Thanks again, all, for the advice. I appreciate it more than I can say. Definitely looking forward to the spring.

-Bret

Smokin' Bad Habit
11-11-2013, 09:24 PM
Bret, it was great cooking next to you guys, you Had some really great scores in chicken and pork, ...just remember how you get to Carnegie hall...practice practice practice,...BTW look me up on Face book,

didisea
11-11-2013, 09:36 PM
Going from 7's to 9's is all the fine details. Everyone at the contest can cook pretty good BBQ, but to separate yourself you need to make it as perfect as possible. You can also focus on your meat trimming - the meat should go into the smoker looking like you want it to come out of the smoker. Are your ribs trimmed uniformly on each rack? Are they cut without any bits hanging on the edges? Are you boxing everything evenly spaced? In your chicken picture, on piece is touching another piece. They all need to be equal distance from the edges and from each other. Is your chicken uniform in size? Color? Just keep practicing and studying.
Your off to a very good start!

71-South
11-11-2013, 10:41 PM
Bret, it was great cooking next to you guys, you Had some really great scores in chicken and pork, ...just remember how you get to Carnegie hall...practice practice practice,...BTW look me up on Face bookYou too, John. Pat, Sherry, and I really appreciate your hospitality and advice. Now they want a turn-in playlist, btw. :)

Your tips on pork presentation got us our walk, too!

Going from 7's to 9's is all the fine details. Everyone at the contest can cook pretty good BBQ, but to separate yourself you need to make it as perfect as possible. You can also focus on your meat trimming - the meat should go into the smoker looking like you want it to come out of the smoker. Are your ribs trimmed uniformly on each rack? Are they cut without any bits hanging on the edges? Are you boxing everything evenly spaced? In your chicken picture, on piece is touching another piece. They all need to be equal distance from the edges and from each other. Is your chicken uniform in size? Color? Just keep practicing and studying.
Your off to a very good start! Yep. I hadn't really studied the scoring system until I plugged our scores into it. I'd read about how close results usually are, but I didn't really get it until I did a "what if" on the 7 we got on pork taste from one judge. Wow. An 8 puts us in 2nd there and a 9 wins it.

That's not me complaining, just understanding how razor thin the margins are.

I've already practiced trimming more thighs. My kids are starting to think I'm weird, so I think I'm on the right path. :)