View Full Version : I need some advice
06-28-2010, 10:59 AM
I have cooked 5 contests so far the past 2 years and always seem to end up finishing in the middle of the field with every category. Should I stop trying to get everything right and just concentrate on one particular category or completely change everything I'm doing? I use hickory and oak wood with lump charcoal in a Stumps smoker. I cook my chicken in pans until its done, then take them out and onto the rack for 15 mins for sauce, then boxed. St louis Ribs are 2 hrs in smoke, 1-1/2 hrs wrapped with a little apple juice, then an hour or so on rack for sauce. Pork is smoked till 165 then wrapped till 195 and into a cooler to hold till chunked and boxed. Brisket is smoked till 170 then wrapped with a juice concoction till 190-195 and into a cooler to hold till sliced and boxed. I need some advice on how to improve my results! My appearance scores are pretty good, just can't seem to get 8's or above on taste and tenderness...
I know how you feel. I finished high overall for my first two comps this year and in the bottom of the pack for the next two. Frustrating to say the least. Good luck on your journey!
06-28-2010, 11:32 AM
My recommendation is to take a class from a proven winner. There are quite a few out there now. I know they can be a bit of money, but I had very good results after taking the Pellet Envy class.
I'm not saying you can't get there on your own, but the best way to improve (especially without a class)is to cook a lot of contests and take detailed notes about everything you do so you can repeat it. I spent a year and a half chasing a pork injection recipe because I ran out of my usual ingredients and did not write down what I did when I was winging it.
I really believe a good class shortens the learning curve, especially for those of us that compete only a few times a year.
Just my 2 cents.
06-28-2010, 11:49 AM
Instead of cooking to a certain temp, try cooking until that particular piece of meat is done. You may need to take a brisket to over 200 to get it done. Pull it when it feels done when you insert the temp probe (no resistance), not when the temp says it should be done.
And I second the motion to take a good class. It's helped us a lot.
06-28-2010, 11:54 AM
^^^ Robs on to something here.
06-28-2010, 12:55 PM
Rob is absolutely right. On paper, it seems like you are doing everything right from a cooking standpoint but might need to adjust your flavor profiles. I compete on the West Coast so I'm not much help on what flavors the judges are looking for in the Midwest. You might want to judge a couple competitions to find out what types of flavors the other guys are turning in.
06-28-2010, 02:18 PM
I have not taken a class...per say...but I have spent a lot of time talking with good cooks and asking them a lot of questions. I have bothered Andy (Smoke on Wheels) Jeff (Big Creek) Cris Cox (Brew-n-BBQ), Jeff (KC Can Crew) just to name a few.
Walking them through what I do how I do it and what am missing. At the end of the day you will see a process you have not used, a method that will help you improve and make some great friends. Comps are'nt just about competition but there about learning and pushing to get better each time.
Also have a judge (plenty here on the brethren) to come by and talk with you to better understand what they look for.
06-28-2010, 06:01 PM
I cook my chicken in pans until its done, then take them out and onto the rack for 15 mins for sauce, then boxed
I'm confused by my chicken scores so I have nothing to offer. I will say that I'm in the 'crispy skin camp'.
St louis Ribs are 2 hrs in smoke, 1-1/2 hrs wrapped with a little apple juice, then an hour or so on rack for sauce.
You didn't mention the temp you cook. @250 try 3 hours smoke.
Pork is smoked till 165 then wrapped till 195 and into a cooler to hold till chunked and boxed.
I go for 'color' vs the temp. I wrap after about 5 hours usually. It's done when it's done. Use the probe test. It's okay to add some marinade to the foil :-D
Brisket is smoked till 170 then wrapped with a juice concoction till 190-195 and into a cooler to hold till sliced and boxed.
See pork above. It's about the probe test, not the finishing temp
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