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uziel5000
01-27-2010, 02:07 PM
BBQ is an addictive, weird thing...

I say this and after you read my newb story you will understand why. In my case, BBQ led me to do things down right irrational.

I'm from Puerto Rico and down here, we have our BBQ tradition (like most other cultures) and it is very different from the U.S. tradition. I enjoy both and seem to becoming obsessed with it. Last year, they announced the Cattlemen's BBQ Championship which for all intent and purpose is the Puerto Rico BBQ championship. By that time, I had done some indirect grilling in my gas grill (roasts, ribs and such) but not much more. So I have to wonder why I got it in my head that I could compete in such a thing. I convinced my father and brothers to join me as a team and my father "sponsored" us with the entry fee and shirts. For them it was someting fun to do as a family. I never gave them any more information than that. We signed up. Team Black Hog Down was born.

One problem though: I didn't have a charcoal grill. I didn't have a smoker. Heck, I had never used a smoker.

Because competition BBQ is just starting out in Puerto Rico, the competition rules are way more relaxed. People could grill their entries or smoke them and the categories were Sauce, Chicken, Beef(Brisket or grilled steak), Ribs, Dessert and Anything Goes. One of my bros told me he had a friend who owned a smoker so in exchange for team membership we got to use it. My plan was to smoke the ribs and do everything else grilled. I figured I would not have time for brisket so I chose steak. For Anything Goes, I developed a Teriyaki Sauce which would go on grilled salmon. For dessert... I'll explain later. I also did a basic BBQ sauce.

We did two practice runs. One on the ribs to test the smoker and one on chicken to test the Teriyaki sauce (I used it there too). That was it.

The day of the competition is the day I really found out how over my head I was. There were pro's, chefs and restaurants competing here. What the heck was I doing?

The rules said that the sauce entry had to have some amount of Cattlemen's BBQ sauce on it (wonder who came up with that) so I admit I wasn't really into that. Turned something in just to not get DQ'd. Then we started cooking. First off was the salmon which came out great. People started to ask us (we had to give samples to the public) where our restaurant was and if we catered. Started feeling good. The smoker situation however... I kept glancing at the smoker and saw the temp was all over the place. Started smelling trouble (along with the ribs) but the owner was there so he knew how to operate it correctly right?

Then came chicken which came out undercooked. We didn't serve whole thighs, just pieces. The presentation was horrible. Thank goodness I have no pics. The steak was very good but the rules said Medium Well and I think ours was Medium Rare so... Then it was time for the ribs. They were way overcooked and dry. Obviously the guy did not know what he was doing. It was not all hos fault though. The night before I made the rookiest of rookie mistakes. I read in a book that you could marinate ribs in apple cider. I searched all over for the stuff and couldn't find any. One of my brothers, at the last minute came in with apple cider vinegar. We figured that is what they were talking about and went to town on the ribs. The smell was horrible but we weren't about to second guess the experts right? In the end, it wasn't so bad. The ribs came out with a strong vinegar taste but they were edible and people kept coming back for samples so they weren't that bad. For dessert, I grilled some pound cake slices and fired some marshmallows. Added some chocolate and made grilled poundcake smores. Tasted great but messy presentation.

In the end, we placed 14th out of 44 teams with a 7th in Anything Goes for the salmon. We had a lot of fun and now that my family has seen what this is all about they want to keep competing. This time really participating. To this day people ask me if I'm going to open a BBQ restaurant so I gues my cooking skills (NOT BBQ skills) got me by my first BBQ experience. Now I'm hooked. I'm obsessed with fixing the mistakes we made and are gonna go slow n' slow on all our entries this year.

Sorry for the long post but I thought it would be informative for other newbs like me and funnny to the more experienced ones.

Divemaster
01-27-2010, 02:49 PM
Great story! I'm sure that most of us who compete have stories that aren't all that far off... lol

Rookie'48
01-27-2010, 03:06 PM
LMFAO :-D. Are you related to Bill :twisted:?

SCRedneckBBQ
01-27-2010, 03:11 PM
awesome...sounds like ya'll had a blast!

Diver
01-27-2010, 03:23 PM
Great read! Amazing how addictive this becomes...

Rich Parker
01-27-2010, 06:41 PM
Great story!

Alexa RnQ
01-27-2010, 08:40 PM
now that my family has seen what this is all about they want to keep competing.

That's the hardest part -- you've got it made now!

CTSmokehouse
01-27-2010, 09:04 PM
I enjoyed your post... WTG! Enjoy! It is a great time and you will get to meat some really good people and make some new friends!

Yours in BBQ,

Cliff

D0ughB0y
01-27-2010, 09:42 PM
14th out of 44. I'd be really REALLY happy with that. Congrats on your new obsession. Best of luck in your future comps.

CivilWarBBQ
01-27-2010, 11:49 PM
Great story!

I seem to remember talking with a couple fellas from Puerto Rico with George and the Primo crew at the Jack this year. Any chance that was you?

tmcmaster
01-28-2010, 12:42 AM
Great read, and good luck! You will never be sorry for this addiction!

Lake Dogs
01-28-2010, 06:44 AM
I really enjoyed reading and it does bring back memories... <smiles>

Some first timers dont see the humor in those things and never come
back. You're among good company here, we've all had more than
one laugh at ourselves! Welcome out our addiction!

High Q
01-28-2010, 07:12 AM
Great story. I'm surprised one of the entries wasn't pernil? Way to go finishing 14th and most of all for giving it a try.

uziel5000
01-28-2010, 07:34 AM
Great story!

I seem to remember talking with a couple fellas from Puerto Rico with George and the Primo crew at the Jack this year. Any chance that was you?

Nope. Never been there. But I'd be willing to bet you saw Mike Compton. he heads the Caribbean BBQ Asociation which is pretty much the driving force behind "classic" american BBQ down here.

uziel5000
01-28-2010, 07:39 AM
Great story. I'm surprised one of the entries wasn't pernil? Way to go finishing 14th and most of all for giving it a try.

Actually it was a two day event. On Saturday, there was a competition solely for "Lechon a la Varita" which is the traditional BBQ of Puerto Rico. It is basically a whole hog roasted on a spit with some poor guy turning it. It takes all day. The categories were "Masa" (which comes from the "pernil" or leg of the hog), Ribs and "Cuerito" which is the skin which we like crispy like a potato chip. We take great pride in the "cuerito". Wish I could've participated in that but I just don't have the gear for it.

uziel5000
01-28-2010, 07:43 AM
14th out of 44. I'd be really REALLY happy with that. Congrats on your new obsession. Best of luck in your future comps.


You have no idea how happy. When we saw the results and saw that we beat teams that had professional chefs and others that actually did this for a living our chest swelled up a bit. lol

Divemaster
01-28-2010, 08:00 AM
You have no idea how happy. When we saw the results and saw that we beat teams that had professional chefs and others that actually did this for a living our chest swelled up a bit. lol
That happens, and trust me, it is an addiction!

drewc
01-28-2010, 09:40 AM
Thank you for sharing this, very funny. It did not end up being a BAD experience.

JD McGee
01-28-2010, 10:01 AM
Thanks for sharing your story uziel...and congrats on a successful first comp...:-P Good luck to you and your team...:biggrin: