View Full Version : Discretion: The Better Part of Valor

07-09-2007, 11:04 AM
Wasn't sure where to post this, so it goes in comp, since it involves comp.
I had planned on entering my first comp in August at Princeton, WI.
Mind you, I think I cook a pretty mean brisket, and outstanding pulled pork, and this is what had me fired up to enter a comp.
But this weekends cook changed all of that. I did 3 slabs of spares, something I never cook, figuring if I was going to do a comp, I'd better figure out how I was going to do these.
Let's say the cook was a debacle. I could not get my pit up to temp, and it took forever to do the ribs, some of which were overcooked, some were ok, some were not. There simply is not enought time or $$ in the household budget for me to cook enough ribs between now and the comp to get proficient enough to be competitive by the end of August. There is also no way for me to be able to afford a full practice cook before then, something I want to do before I go to a real comp. I guess I need to put the nose to the grindstone and get good at cooking all 4 entries, hone my recipes, have a timeline, so as to not embarrass myself.
So, I am postponing my competitive debut, maybe for another year.
If any Brethren are planning on cooking at Princeton, and need a little help, I would gladly pit bitch for someone if they needed it, even bringing a WSM or two.

07-09-2007, 05:35 PM
Hey Harbormaster,

Did you do the ribs on the WSM? How bad could they be? We are doing our first Comp at the end of this month and I know how you feel. My chicken really needed work but chicken is cheap. If I had a nickel everytime my wife said "Not competition chicken again" I think I could retire. Or at least buy a case of beer! My Brisket is hit or miss.

We were able to do a full practice run a few weeks ago and are still learning. It was easier than I thought but I'm glad I did it. I do think it's a "should do" and not a "must do". The thing to think about is getting the timing down. I think you can do it. You've been around long enough to know how long things take.

I guess my point is if you can go and have fun and learn from the teams around it do it. Then you really know where your weak points are and where you need work.

Just my 2 cents but I say go for it!


07-09-2007, 06:09 PM
I agree with Tom, Harbor! Just do it! No one cares if you don't do well your first time out AND you might not even like comps. Might as well find out now before you spend another year planning for it. You can also learn a LOT at one comp to take with you on your training/practice journey til your next one. Jump in with both feet and see what happens. You might be surprised.

07-09-2007, 06:57 PM
I agree with Tom, Harbor! Just do it! No one cares if you don't do well your first time out AND you might not even like comps. Might as well find out now before you spend another year planning for it. You can also learn a LOT at one comp to take with you on your training/practice journey til your next one. Jump in with both feet and see what happens. You might be surprised.

Good advice!

Besides, it is just money and pride--mo big deal--right? :lol:

Seriously, treat it as a "learning experience" and just go do it!
Have fun and learn some stuff!


07-09-2007, 07:05 PM
I also agree. Do it for the experience. You may meet some new friends and pick up pointers. Hell you might have a "ON" day and well have you back here bragging about your win. Good luck.

07-09-2007, 07:30 PM
Cmon Clark, <voice inside the head mod> DOOO IT!!!
Good brisket and pork? Sounds like a good start to me.
Pit not up to temp? That's comp practice right there.
Some ribs overdone, some OK, some underdone? That's why I cook 6 slabs to turn in 8 bones.
Is it your method/technique or recipe that you think needs work or is it just your execution?
With all the resources available to you here and at TVWB, ribs should be no problem for you to get a grip on by then. If it helps, this method works pretty good for me:
- Trim spares St. Louis style and remove membrane
- Slather with yellow mustard then rub the night before
- Get the cooker going at least 7 hrs before turn in so you have time to get it stabilized at the temp you want.
- Ribs go in about 6 to 6 1/2 hrs before turn in (at 250 dome temp in the WSM)
- Cook until you get the color you want (3 1/2 to 4 hrs)
- Foil with some AJ until tender using a fork or the toothpick test (45 minutes or so)
- Unfoil and back in to firm up (45 minutes or so) , saucing in the last 20 minutes.
- Pick your best racks, slice them carefully, box them up and turn them in.
- Don't worry about what the judges will think. Do your best, have fun and don't sweat it.

There's those voices again, DOOO IT!!!

BTW, you're on your own with chicken unless someone else can help out.

07-09-2007, 08:36 PM
Well, my advice is adverse to what you've received already. Unless I misunderstand, the cash flow is a little tight for you right now. So, if you can't afford a practice cook just now, it seems it would be difficult to justify a the entry fee on top of all of the other expenses, including meat.

Here's what I propose. Get to know the teams in your area. These boards are perfect for that. Don't become a bbq stalker, but meet some people. Ultimately, some of these folks will invite you out on Friday evening or even Saturday to help out. This will give you time to practice your ribs while getting valuable competition experience.

Take your competition meat money, save it, and get involved with some other folks who compete. You'll learn a lot and meet some really great people. This advice won't be popular, but it's practical.


07-09-2007, 08:51 PM
You're probably right, Rod. I missed the cash flow thing. I knew Harbor mentioned not being able to afford to keep practicing on ribs but I assumed that's just 'cuz doing so would mean a huge expense for several months with what those damned retailers are selling the things for these days.

07-09-2007, 09:08 PM
I just took it that Clark thought he'd have to cook tons and tons of ribs to get it right. If money's an issue then it's kind of a no-brainer but if it's just a lack of confidence, I still say get out there and do it. I had the same feelings before my first comp but I got some great advice and encouragement and we wound up doing really well. I'd like to return the favor by encouraging someone else who's just getting started if it'll help.

07-10-2007, 06:21 AM
Go fer it!!!!

07-10-2007, 06:47 AM

If you have the budget for the comp I still say go for it. Competeing is expensive and so are a lot of practice cooks. But you're going to eat any way right? Plan on doing the competition and cook a few ribs when you can.

If you're not 100&#37; confident in all four catagories remember no one really is. If they were then they would only cook 1 brisket, 1 butt, 1 rack of ribs and 6 thighs. (At least that's how I like to look at it).


07-10-2007, 06:47 AM
We should be in Racine this year. Join us like last year at Libertyville.

Oh, and don't let your ribs anywhere near mustard.

07-10-2007, 07:21 AM
I'm thinking that you should go for it...nothing to lose and everything to gain (friends, tips and ribbons...lol)

07-10-2007, 08:33 AM
Hey everyone, thanks for all of the kind words.
Trust me, it's not a lack of confidence. I know I could do a comp. BUT, the combination of lack of $$ (we are a SITCOM family, Single Income, Three Children, Oppressive Mortgage), lack of time to prepare, and lack of enthusiasm from the Secretary of Domestic Tranquility means I need to put it off for now. And it's more than $$ for meat. It's a lack of other items that would help to make me competitive.
I did not do the ribs on my WSM. They went on my Cimarron pit. (WSMs are reserved for butt and brisket). Before starting the cook, I made a baffle set-up to hopefully even out the temps in the chamber. I don't know if that was the cause of the temp issues, if it was because I was rusty on the Cimarron, or if it was the weather. There seemed to be an unusual wind that kept blowing down my stack, and that may have hosed me.
I did trim the ribs and removed the membrane, cooked until a nice reddish brown, foiled with fruit juice for a while, and then taken out, put back on the pit nekkid, sauced late. I used a chit load of hickory to get the temps up and the ribs were way over smoked. Like I said, some were good, some weren't.
That was why I hoped I could find someone from this board that was going to do Princeton. If someone needed help, I would love to cook. I'd even supply a WSM and butts or briskets.
Your encouragement means a lot. It's why I keep coming here. I will do a comp sooner or later. Maybe for Princeton next year I can convince Papa Hogg and Pimpsmoke to team up with me.

07-10-2007, 08:48 AM
...and lack of enthusiasm from the Secretary of Domestic Tranquility.
Ah, I've been there. My better half seems to be behind me right up until it's time to get ready for the show and then she stops being happy. I don't quite understand it, but that's how it's been for both comps that I've done so far. She says later, "No, I don't think I was crabby," but what else do you call a week of one word answers? Not trying to encourage domestic upheaval, but I could have way worse hobbies so I don't let it bother me anymore. She gets over it in a few days anyway. :-D
Maybe for Princeton next year I can convince Papa Hogg and Pimpsmoke to team up with me.
Good idea. If the funding's tight, bring in more partners to help defray the cost. It's more fun cooking with friends anyway.