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View Full Version : 1st Comp Jitters!!


ZBQ
07-05-2007, 01:06 PM
The 1st Annual Ohio Open Barbecue Cook-Off (http://www.rollingsmoke.com/ohioopen.htm) ,July 13 & 14 will be my first comp.

Only 7 1/2 days left.

Man am I getting nervous!! :shock:

I am ok with my pork and ribs but I have yet to turn out a decent brisket.
Well, what I would call decent anyways. :roll: It has good flavor and is tender but it always seems to dry out.:icon_smil

I think I will be OK on the chicken but I still need to do a couple more runs to get it down.

The other thing that has me worried is the WSM that I will be cooking on acts a little different when you have it full of meat as opposed to just doing single meats. Not drastically different, but enough that I am worried about it. I cooks slower so I am worried about turn in times and having the meat ready by then. Wish I had more capacity. Oh well, I will have PLENTY of capacity when the new Spicewine gets here!!:biggrin:

Any sage advice from fellow WSM Brethren or Sisters?

Has anybody had any experience using the Piedmont Pan with water instead of foil? How about you sister Keri? Thinkng of trying it to see if it will be longer bettween refilling the water.

YankeeBBQ
07-05-2007, 01:09 PM
Just a quick question about your Brisket. What temp are you pulling it out of the cooker ? Brisket can be dry if it's undercooked. When you overcook brisket it tends to fall apart.

Harbormaster
07-05-2007, 01:20 PM
Has anybody had any experience using the Piedmont Pan with water instead of foil?

Z, I use the Piedmont pan with foil and water (foil first, then water) and have had very good luck with it. I did about a 12 hour cook and added no water.

tumpedover
07-05-2007, 01:22 PM
No advice on the WSM...just a little sympathy for the jitters ...I got em too ...first comp is on the 21st of july! in Odessa:eek:

tonto1117
07-05-2007, 01:25 PM
No advice on the WSM...just a little sympathy for the jitters ...I got em too ...first comp is on the 21st of july! in Odessa:eek:

Ditto on the jitters...our first is July 13-14 also. Best of luck to you both!!!

ZBQ
07-05-2007, 01:28 PM
Z, I use the Piedmont pan with foil and water (foil first, then water) and have had very good luck with it. I did about a 12 hour cook and added no water.

AWSOME!! So, just line it with foil and then pour in the water, right?

I have a turkey fryer that I am going to use to heat the water before pouring it in the water pan so it doesn't take long to come up to temp.

ZBQ
07-05-2007, 01:32 PM
Just a quick question about your Brisket. What temp are you pulling it out of the cooker ? Brisket can be dry if it's undercooked. When you overcook brisket it tends to fall apart.

I am pulling it out when it gets to 185.

I am wondering if my temps might have something to do with it. A couple of times they temp got up in the 270-280 area. I read somewhere that if you have temps over 250 that you will "boil the fat" out of the brisket and it will be dry. Is this true?

adventurelarry
07-05-2007, 01:34 PM
Just back from my 1st contest (other than a backyard bbq contest) and it went great. Everyone was so helpful, and I felt I could ask just about anyone a question. It was a little intimidating at first being next to Chris and iQue, and across from Dirty Dick, as well as the Freestate Smokers. I got over that quickly though.

Just have fun, and enjoy the experience. I learned so much I cannot wait to get back out there again.

--Larry

Sawdustguy
07-05-2007, 01:39 PM
Guy's relax! It's just a bbq contest. It wasn't so long ago (2 years) that we went through the same thing. In your first contest, all you have to do is enjoy yourselves. The rest will fall into place. If you don't have fun, whats the sense in cooking a contest. If you have fun, I guaranty you will be hooked. As a new team, just concentrate on getting your product in on time, without being DQ'ed. After that, it's up to the judges and ya never know. Best of luck to you all.

YankeeBBQ
07-05-2007, 01:45 PM
I am pulling it out when it gets to 185.

I am wondering if my temps might have something to do with it. A couple of times they temp got up in the 270-280 area. I read somewhere that if you have temps over 250 that you will "boil the fat" out of the brisket and it will be dry. Is this true?

I don't like to get my cooker over 260. If I were you I would cook your brisket till it hits 195 to 198. I don't think 185 is high enough. That's just my opinion though. When you stick a probe in to take the temp it should have very little resistance and the brisket should kind of wobble like jello.

tumpedover
07-05-2007, 01:56 PM
Guy's relax! It's just a bbq contest. It wasn't so long ago (2 years) that we went through the same thing. In your first contest, all you have to do is enjoy yourselves. The rest will fall into place. If you don't have fun, whats the sense in cooking a contest. If you have fun, I guaranty you will be hooked. As a new team, just concentrate on getting your product in on time, without being DQ'ed. After that, it's up to the judges and ya never know. Best of luck to you all.


My strategy exactly.....I'm just gonna have fun. I can sure get myself worked up sometimes....the old football player in me...ya know, hate to loose:mad: ...whew!:mrgreen:

tonto1117
07-05-2007, 02:16 PM
A while back I remember reading a thread from somone(sorry I can't remember who) at there first comp that was stressing when all of a sudden he looked around and said to himself " this is only BBQ for crying out loud...not brain surgery" and then he was able to just enjoy and do his thing. I try to remember that when I feel myself stressing out...It's helped alot!!

Dale P
07-05-2007, 02:22 PM
Have a good time and you are a winner. I always set a goal for myself "as in" get the meat turned in on time and let the chips fall where ever they want.
Good luck!

cmcadams
07-05-2007, 02:53 PM
We'll be there... come by if you need any help or anything. It should be a lot of fun,and I hope the weather is good.

Puppyboy
07-05-2007, 03:21 PM
My first comp, we came in 50 out of 60. My second comp we came in 36 out of 36. It sucked loosing but we had a hell of a time getting there.

Have fun and ask questions.

The_Kapn
07-05-2007, 03:46 PM
Z-MAN,

Going back to your original post.
1. Sounds like you are changing to a Piedmont pan but have never used one. I have no idea how that changes the WSM. Some folks say it is not wise to change things (experimenting?) for a comp. A "test run" would probably be a good idea.

2. Brisket. First off, championship brisket (and butts) can and have been cooked as high as the mid-300's, so do not stress if you get temps in the upper 200's for a bit. Just adjust them back down and cook on. It will not dry out a brisket or a butt. "Roger" on cooking to a higher internal temp--195 or so in the point and a good "buttery feel" when probed will help. As to Dry, foil them puppies at 160-170 or so with a cup of AJ or broth or something and they will normally be plenty moist.

3. Are you cooking on just the one WSM listed in your sig? Two will work if you have the butts and briskets in the dry cooler by 7 AM or so and you can change over to the chickie and ribbies for the final stretch! As to longer times with a loaded WSM--Yes, but.... Just start them an hour or two before your "best guess" and remember "the cooler is your friend" at the end.

The best advice you have received is to just relax and have fun.
KISS......:lol:

Do not be concerned with scoring well.
You will score higher if you just relax and focus on some good cooking and enjoying the experience!

Just some thoughts.

Good luck, great cooking, and have a memorable time!!!!!!!!!

TIM

Smokin' Gnome BBQ
07-05-2007, 04:26 PM
Our first was in Yardley , 47 teams. You may look around and see some bug names, just remember they all started just like you and I, with a first comp. Every one we spoke with was GREAT. Everyone said "if you need anything?" etc.. good luck and have fun.. the whole BBQ thing is awsome. like a Giant party with good people and breat Q.. our 2nd comp is in 2 weeks and will be a lot easier know how great everyone is!!GOOD LUCK.

VA BBQ PIRATES
07-05-2007, 04:52 PM
ZBQ - John - Tonto,

My first comp is the 27th so I share your jitters. Best advice I've heard is don't over think it. Lots of other good advice here. My main goals are to have fun and not to come in dead a$$ last in any catagory. Good luck to all.

Tom

jtfisher63
07-05-2007, 05:13 PM
One thing that helped me calm my nerves was to write down a schedule. We had a dry erase board and listed everything that needed to be done and when. The times don't need to be exact, but used as a reminder. Good luck.

Oh yeah, we still use a timeline!

Jason

Kirk
07-05-2007, 07:55 PM
Guy's relax! It's just a bbq contest.

Some folks say it is not wise to change things (experimenting?) for a comp.
"the cooler is your friend" at the end.

write down a schedule.

Theses are the best bits of info here as far as getting over the anxiety of a contest. Relax, have fun, but be prepared. Have a schedule and plan to have things finish ahead of time. That way if the cook times go long, you have a buffer built right into your schedule. Also, it's tough to know how things are going to work out the first time you try them so I'd definately try the practice run with the piedmont pan before the comp. If you don't have time, forget it. It's not going to make you a better cook. Just relax and do your best, I'm sure you'll have a blast!

ZBQ
07-05-2007, 10:41 PM
Z-MAN,

Going back to your original post.
1. Sounds like you are changing to a Piedmont pan but have never used one. I have no idea how that changes the WSM. Some folks say it is not wise to change things (experimenting?) for a comp. A "test run" would probably be a good idea.

I have used the Peidmont pan several times, but with foil only. I have found that the temps are a bit touchy without the water. I was going to use the regular water pan for the comp because I am really comfortable with how I can adjust the temps with water.The only reason I was thinking of using the Piedmont pan was just for increased water capacity. I also thought that the insulating air layer bettween the pans might slightly reduce the rate of water boil off. I don't think it should change the performance very much from the regular water pan. But I could be wrong. If all else fails I can take the Piedmont pan apart and just use one of them.

2. Brisket. "Roger" on cooking to a higher internal temp--195 or so in the point and a good "buttery feel" when probed will help. As to Dry, foil them puppies at 160-170 or so with a cup of AJ or broth or something and they will normally be plenty moist.Will be taking it to 195-198 next time and I added some BBQ sauce to the foil with the last one I did and it helped the flavor quite a bit.

3. Are you cooking on just the one WSM listed in your sig? Two will work if you have the butts and briskets in the dry cooler by 7 AM or so and you can change over to the chickie and ribbies for the final stretch! As to longer times with a loaded WSM--Yes, but.... Just start them an hour or two before your "best guess" and remember "the cooler is your friend" at the end.I only have one WSM but I will be taking my OTG as well and I was thinking of doing the chicken on it. Indirect of course. That is what I have been practicing the chicken on. I know it will be crowded. Having the butts and brisket in the cooler at 7am is a GREAT idea!! That way I can do at least 2 butts and 2 flats, or should I do 1 butt and 3 flats being that brisket is my weakness. As long as I dont get one of those what I call "stubburn butts" that just don't want to pull, I know I can turn out some good butt.

The best advice you have received is to just relax and have fun. I will TRY to NOT worry about getting everything done right!!:lol:

Thanks for all the great advice and support guys!! As a newbie to comps I REALLY appreciate every word of it!!:biggrin:

HoDeDo
07-05-2007, 10:56 PM
Some comments in blue below :twisted:


Will be taking it to 195-198 next time and I added some BBQ sauce to the foil with the last one I did and it helped the flavor quite a bit.

You might be careful about adding BBQ sauce - it could scorch or get a burnt flavor going if the sugars in it burn... I would stick with AJ or Beef broth, or at least cut your sauce with one of them. (IMHO)

I only have one WSM but I will be taking my OTG as well and I was thinking of doing the chicken on it. Indirect of course. That is what I have been practicing the chicken on. I know it will be crowded. Having the butts and brisket in the cooler at 7am is a GREAT idea!! That way I can do at least 2 butts and 2 flats, or should I do 1 butt and 3 flats being that brisket is my weakness. As long as I dont get one of those what I call "stubburn butts" that just don't want to pull, I know I can turn out some good butt.

I would definately start a little early, and take a small cooler or two for coolering your meat - (less air to cool the meat) - line it in newspaper, and then pack the meat in it as tightly as you comfortably can to keep the temps where you want them.

I will TRY to NOT worry about getting everything done right!!:lol:

Talk to alot of folks, you'll make new friends -- and learn alot as you go. Most folks are more than willing to help you... at anytime other than 10-2:00 on Sat. Raise your hand when they ask if there are any "new teams" - you will be suprised how many folks are willing to help.

Thanks for all the great advice and support guys!! As a newbie to comps I REALLY appreciate every word of it!!:biggrin:

Jeff_in_KC
07-06-2007, 07:51 AM
A while back I remember reading a thread from somone(sorry I can't remember who) at there first comp that was stressing when all of a sudden he looked around and said to himself " this is only BBQ for crying out loud...not brain surgery" and then he was able to just enjoy and do his thing. I try to remember that when I feel myself stressing out...It's helped alot!!

That was me at Cameron, MO last year. I told my wife that after I got back from filling up water jugs. It just hit me while I was standing there by myself waiting for them to fill. I relaxed and we got 4th overall, 1st in brisket and 2nd in pork.

big blue bbq
07-06-2007, 09:11 AM
At the first comp, like others have said, our goal was don't finish last and don't get DQ'd. I recommend making a board with what time to put the meats on before you get there so you will not be wondering if you are putting them on in enough time. I think this was my biggest stress at our comp, oh yeah, high of 41 degrees and sleet did not help either. Make sure you are ready for turn in times a little early. Don't wait until the last minute to get your boxes ready. We put the garnish in about 45 to 60 minutes early and then put it in the cooler to keep it fresh.

Good Luck!! Have fun!!!! that is what it is all about.

tonto1117
07-06-2007, 09:28 AM
That was me at Cameron, MO last year. I told my wife that after I got back from filling up water jugs. It just hit me while I was standing there by myself waiting for them to fill. I relaxed and we got 4th overall, 1st in brisket and 2nd in pork.

Sorry I couldn't remember it was you Jeff, but like I said, I say it alot to myself and it works!! Thanks. I'm sure I will be saying it many times next week leading up to our first one.

Solidkick
07-06-2007, 12:08 PM
I've been doing comps for over 3 years now and I ain't gonna BS ya.....I still get nervous as a cat, but that's my nature.....I've got to be doing something just almost all the time....hence the nickname Diddler and expalins why I'm so wore slick at the end of a comp.
Best of luck to you.....try to have fun!

slat
07-06-2007, 10:24 PM
Just have fun. It's like cooking at home except more meat and it has to be done by a certain time.

Jeff_in_KC
07-06-2007, 10:41 PM
Just have fun. It's like cooking at home except more meat and it has to be done by a certain time.

:lol: Nice way to summarize it, Slat! I hadn't thought of it that way before.

I do tend to get nervous myself and hands shake while putting meat in the box. Straight Woodford Reserve during turn-ins cured that and we did pretty damned good at the GAB! :wink:

ZBQ
07-06-2007, 11:57 PM
Thanks for all the help and support guys!! :grin:

It's a wonderful thing, being a Brethren!! :biggrin:

Best bunch of guys I have met at several different boards!:grin:

Bentley
07-07-2007, 12:32 AM
Jitters are good...just do have fun. Used to get butterfly, ahh no one wants this BS! LOL

Keri C
07-07-2007, 09:16 AM
Everyone has told you the most important part - have fun! That's the whole goal, brother. Jason had an excellent suggestion as well, as far as building a schedule. My schedule, on an Excel spreadsheet, starts at 9 am on Friday and runs in quarter-hours through turn-in on Saturday. I started with turn-in time and work backwards, noting every possible task that needs to be done and assigning it to a time slot. If things get hectic, it can save your sanity. Have you done a full walk-through in your backyard? Might be running close on time, but before our first comp I set up in the back just like I would have at a comp, and cooked all four meats. If there was an item that I found I needed but had forgotten, I made note of it. If there were items that I had hauled out that I didn't use, I left them at home. For lights, we've found that one or two strings of Christmas lights, enough to go around the top of the tent at least 3/4 of the way, and one or two clamp-on lights to aim at the work area and the cooker(s) are all we need. And flashlights.

Talk to a lot of folks Friday night, and talk to the rep, too. At most comps these days the rep will ask at the cooks' meeting if there are any first-time teams there. Raise your hand - experienced teams will volunteer to "mentor" you for the weekend and help guide you through the process. And remember, time slows down in between turn-ins and the world disappears. Get someone to block visiting traffic to your "kitchen" during that time, so you can concentrate and you're not feeling like you have to be sociable during those particular times.

BRISKET INSURANCE - a competition trick
Don't worry about the brisket if your temp gets up. I've finally learned that a WSM can cook a 13-lb packer brisket in five hours running at full flat-out heat of 350 or so. Even when running a traditional overnight cook, 260 in the lid won't hurt you a'tall. I've tried all kinds of pan variations for brisket, but I still fall back to water in the pan for a slow cook, and an empty foil-covered pan for a fast cook.

Here's a trick for brisket turn-in, if you're so inclined: make up a mixture of low-sodium beef broth (preferably Swanson's from a box), about 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, defatted drippings from the foil the brisket was in, a little rub, a little of your sauce, a little brown sugar if you like, and tweak it to your taste. You want it thin. Heat it up. Now slice your brisket. While it's still in nicely lined up slices before you take it off the cutting board, glaze the top with a little sweet sauce. Now... VERY CAREFULLY, slide a very large spatula under the slices, still in their nice organized form, and lay the whole batch of the slices down gently into your 9x9 dish, adding or adjusting slices to fit the 9x9 dish like you would your box. Now pour that hot juice into the 9x9 dish, without getting any on top of the slices. Let your slices bathe up to their armpits for a few minutes in those lovely juices while you finish arranging your salad in the turn-in box. Then use your same big spatula, pick up ALL the slices at once again, hold them up and let them drain for a minute or so, and gently set them in the turn-in box. If it's anyways near dry, the meat will soak up enough juices to keep the slices nice and moist until they reach the judges' lips, as well as adding extra flavor. Dry brisket easily averted!

No, I've never won the brisket category doing this, but I have finished right up close to Buffalo, Twin Oaks, and the Head Country II boys with it. (Living in Oklahoma, I can't get around competing against some of the top "big boys" in the nation, darn it... no bottom feeding available around here.)

Just my 2-cents, for whatever that's worth these days. We'll be competing at Art of BBQ in Tulsa that weekend as well, so we'll with you in spirit!

Keri C, 4th year CBJ, 3rd year Chief Cook and Bottle Washer of Hot Wire BBQ

ZBQ
07-07-2007, 03:20 PM
Everyone has told you the most important part - have fun! That's the whole goal, brother. Jason had an excellent suggestion as well, as far as building a schedule. My schedule, on an Excel spreadsheet, starts at 9 am on Friday and runs in quarter-hours through turn-in on Saturday. I started with turn-in time and work backwards, noting every possible task that needs to be done and assigning it to a time slot. If things get hectic, it can save your sanity. Have you done a full walk-through in your backyard? Might be running close on time, but before our first comp I set up in the back just like I would have at a comp, and cooked all four meats. If there was an item that I found I needed but had forgotten, I made note of it. If there were items that I had hauled out that I didn't use, I left them at home. For lights, we've found that one or two strings of Christmas lights, enough to go around the top of the tent at least 3/4 of the way, and one or two clamp-on lights to aim at the work area and the cooker(s) are all we need. And flashlights.

Talk to a lot of folks Friday night, and talk to the rep, too. At most comps these days the rep will ask at the cooks' meeting if there are any first-time teams there. Raise your hand - experienced teams will volunteer to "mentor" you for the weekend and help guide you through the process. And remember, time slows down in between turn-ins and the world disappears. Get someone to block visiting traffic to your "kitchen" during that time, so you can concentrate and you're not feeling like you have to be sociable during those particular times.

BRISKET INSURANCE - a competition trick
Don't worry about the brisket if your temp gets up. I've finally learned that a WSM can cook a 13-lb packer brisket in five hours running at full flat-out heat of 350 or so. Even when running a traditional overnight cook, 260 in the lid won't hurt you a'tall. I've tried all kinds of pan variations for brisket, but I still fall back to water in the pan for a slow cook, and an empty foil-covered pan for a fast cook.

Here's a trick for brisket turn-in, if you're so inclined: make up a mixture of low-sodium beef broth (preferably Swanson's from a box), about 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, defatted drippings from the foil the brisket was in, a little rub, a little of your sauce, a little brown sugar if you like, and tweak it to your taste. You want it thin. Heat it up. Now slice your brisket. While it's still in nicely lined up slices before you take it off the cutting board, glaze the top with a little sweet sauce. Now... VERY CAREFULLY, slide a very large spatula under the slices, still in their nice organized form, and lay the whole batch of the slices down gently into your 9x9 dish, adding or adjusting slices to fit the 9x9 dish like you would your box. Now pour that hot juice into the 9x9 dish, without getting any on top of the slices. Let your slices bathe up to their armpits for a few minutes in those lovely juices while you finish arranging your salad in the turn-in box. Then use your same big spatula, pick up ALL the slices at once again, hold them up and let them drain for a minute or so, and gently set them in the turn-in box. If it's anyways near dry, the meat will soak up enough juices to keep the slices nice and moist until they reach the judges' lips, as well as adding extra flavor. Dry brisket easily averted!

No, I've never won the brisket category doing this, but I have finished right up close to Buffalo, Twin Oaks, and the Head Country II boys with it. (Living in Oklahoma, I can't get around competing against some of the top "big boys" in the nation, darn it... no bottom feeding available around here.)

Just my 2-cents, for whatever that's worth these days. We'll be competing at Art of BBQ in Tulsa that weekend as well, so we'll with you in spirit!

Keri C, 4th year CBJ, 3rd year Chief Cook and Bottle Washer of Hot Wire BBQ

I luv ya Keri!!:biggrin:

In a sisterly kinda way that is..........:wink:

MilitantSquatter
07-07-2007, 07:23 PM
I don't like to get my cooker over 260. If I were you I would cook your brisket till it hits 195 to 198. I don't think 185 is high enough. That's just my opinion though. When you stick a probe in to take the temp it should have very little resistance and the brisket should kind of wobble like jello.

Steve - I assume you are referring to taking up to 195-198 in the flat and not the point as Kapn mentioned ??. I also prefer to go by resistance/feel as final measure of tenderness like most.