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ZILLA
07-11-2010, 10:56 AM
I can't help but notice that many folks don't see the big picture when it comes to winning or placing at competitions.

A tasty recipe and a quality pit will not take you to the top of your game. It's consistency across the board that does it. Long term consistency. There is no magic bullet to winning, it's more like a magic formula, and every team needs a different formula that will suit them.

I thought it would be a benefit to the cookers who have not figured this out yet, or those who have not embraced this philosophy, to compile a a list of way to bring consistency to your competition efforts.

Those with Pellet cooker should bring forth ideas on that equipment likewise stick burners impart their wisdom in the finer points of those pits.

I hope you will all make an effort to build this into a great resource of ideas that we can all use and learn from.

Buster Dog BBQ
07-11-2010, 11:06 AM
If you want to be consistent get a plan and stick to it. We have a schedule we follow and don't deviate from it. We use the same rubs, sauces etc we always use and cook at the same temps for the same time. We cook on average the same size meat and quantity. But maybe the most important thing is to pay attention to detail.

ZILLA
07-11-2010, 11:24 AM
Stick Burners: Firewood

An often overlooked aspect of using a stick burner to its full potential is high quality firewood. Here are a few guidelines that I believe are key.

100% heartwood with no bark is the holy grail of premium firewood for a stick burner. Get as close as you can.

Find a source for high quality firewood of the type you like. Make sure it is free of mold and mildew. Make sure the wood is split logs of the right length for your firebox and no more than four to five inches in it's general diameter. Do not use round wood, by that I mean round branch wood as they tend to produce more smoke from the bark and it has more sapwood and less heartwood.

Buy enough for an entire cooking season, or more if you can afford it and have the room to store it. Stack it 12" off the ground to reduce bug infestation and cover the top of the stack to prevent leaves from turning into mulch in your wood. Store it in a sunny well ventilated area.

ZILLA
07-11-2010, 11:29 AM
Stick Burner: Preheat firewood

I thought this was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard when I was given this golden nugget. I'm now a believer.....

Preheated wood ignites almost right away and reduces the white smoke that produces off flavors on your meat.

thillin
07-11-2010, 12:12 PM
Take good notes, they help. Then you have a better chance of repoducing after a walk.

ClayHill
07-11-2010, 12:29 PM
I agree with you Zilla....stickburners play a tricky game. Heartwood and preheating are great tips for stick burners for sure........but for some, its not always achievable to do both. The use of fruit wood can often offset undesirable characteristics of stick burning (thin bark, light flavor) as opposed to woods like oak (thicker bark, stronger flavor), which really benefit from pre heating.

This is a great post BTW, I'm learning, its not about a magic bullet.......its about details

monty3777
07-11-2010, 12:38 PM
I'm by no means a contender in KCBS, but I think that the key for us is going to be practice. I try and cook some category every week. The way I manage to do this is that I find someone who will pay the cost of the meat so that I can afford to cook as often as possible. Also makes friends and family really happy. It's like getting two birds stoned at once.

Shotgun
07-11-2010, 01:43 PM
Pratice and good notes are the best, but that doesnt improve the consistency of the judging.

ZILLA
07-11-2010, 02:01 PM
Consistency of the judging is beyond our control. Consistent cooks win consistently regardless of the judges.

JD McGee
07-11-2010, 02:07 PM
1. Know your pit(s)...
2. Game Plan...
3. Stick to the Game plan...
:cool:

HBMTN
07-11-2010, 02:23 PM
Well said Zilla, I have had several calls through the six KCBS comps I have done in a little over two years and an RGC in a non sanctioned comp I competed in. Seems we always do well in two or three catagories and bomb in one, and it's a different catagory each time. So after my last competition in April it dawned on me that I believed our problem was timing and consistancy, so I have spent the last three months working on exactly that, timing and consistancy. Oh yea one more thing, I learned that you have to be having a good time and not taking it too seriously. This may sound funny but I used to take it way too serious and spent the time focusing on every little aspect instead of going around meeting and talking with other teams and having a good time. Seems now that I am more relaxed about things and not so uptight that things roll much smoother. Well at this I will be testing this out next weekend at Que and Cruz and I hope for our best finish yet!

Ruben

Podge
07-11-2010, 05:01 PM
Consistency ? Practice !!!!!

Plowboy
07-11-2010, 07:10 PM
I'm by no means a contender in KCBS, but I think that the key for us is going to be practice. I try and cook some category every week. The way I manage to do this is that I find someone who will pay the cost of the meat so that I can afford to cook as often as possible. Also makes friends and family really happy. It's like getting two birds stoned at once.

Um, didn't you win a category yesterday out of 63 teams, Mr Contender?

Greg60525
07-11-2010, 07:48 PM
Stick Burner: Preheat firewood

I thought this was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard when I was given this golden nugget. I'm now a believer.....

Preheated wood ignites almost right away and reduces the white smoke that produces off flavors on your meat.

Stick Burner:

- To elaborate on preheating, I use a 2-stage preheating method. I place 3 sticks on my firebox and rotate the next piece from the top of the firebox into the firebox, but away from the fire for enhanced preheating. This wood does ignite right away when placed into the fire.

- Leave exhaust vent fully open so the smoke doesn't linger too long, causing bitter tasing food.

- Keep a fire small enough so that it burns hot and does not smoulder. Visiting some of the woodstove sites may be beneficial to understand clean burning fire control........it's basically the same thing.

ZILLA
07-12-2010, 10:01 AM
A task schedule is a very good tool for me. Keeps my timing spot on.

Smoke'n Ice
07-12-2010, 04:38 PM
Here is an example of a time line that insures that consistancy is the stable part. The judges are the unstable part of the equation.

325 grams Competition chicken marinade
2 quarts chicken broth
18 ea chicken thighs
Competition Barbecue Rub
BBQ suace
apple juice
All times assume a 12 noon turn in
(measure travel time from cooking location to turn in point and adjust times as necessary)

4:00 to 6:00 am
(6 to 8 hours prior to turn in)
Cool chicken broth prior to use (40 degrees or lower)


Trim chicken and remove all fat


do not over trim skin
Add Competition chicken marinade batch to water and blend with a stick blender


Place chicken and water/marinade mixture in 2 gallon zip lock, remove air and then massage chicken to distribute marinade


Allow to marinate up to 8 hours in refrigeration maintained between 34 & 40 degrees


8:30 am

(3 hours prior to turn in)
Set smoker to 325F


9:00 am

(3 hours prior to turn in)
Place a large foil pan with a inch of Parkay on smoker


Remove chicken from marinade, rinse and drip dry


Apply light coating of competition Rub under skin and then pin the skin to prevent it


pulling away during cooking
Count the number of pins and record to insure all are removed before turn in


Apply a light coating of competition Rub on underside and and skin side of thighs


Roll thighs into as tight a configuration as possible


9:45 am

(2 hours prior to turn in)
Remove foil pan from cooker


Set temp to "smoke" setting


Place chicken thighs, skin side up, in pan


Apply light coating of rub


Return to cooker on smoke settings


10:15 am

(1 hours prior to turn in)
Remove from smoker


Set smoker temp to 300F


Place chicken on grill with skin side up


Apply light coating of rub


10:30 am

(1 hours prior to turn in)
Combine selected bbq sauce and apple juice in sauce pan and bring to a simmer, keep warm until end of process


10:45 am

(1 hours prior to turn in)
Turn chicken to skin side down


Apply a lite coating of selected BBQ sauce blend to underside of thighs


Monitor from this point forward to prevent burned chicken as time for next two steps can vary
11:15 am

( hour prior to turn in)
Turn chicken to skin side up


Apply coating of selected BBQ sauce to skin side of thighs


11:45 am

( hour prior to turn in)
Remove from cooker


Remove all pins ensuring that the count is the same as recorded above


Select best thighs for turn in


Sprinkle bottom with a light coating of rub


Touch up top with selected BBQ sauce


Place in box


11:55 am

(12 noon 5 minutes)
Final inspection of box


Proceed to turn in location

JD McGee
07-12-2010, 09:37 PM
1. Know your pit(s)...
2. Game Plan...
3. Stick to the Game plan...
:cool:

Afterthought...make small changes to your flavor profile to improve scores...concentrate on your low score areas...try the changes over a period of 3 comps...if the scores come up...you're on the right track...if not...go back to square one and tweak something different. :cool:

Greg60525
07-12-2010, 11:59 PM
I take detailed notes and later put them in the computer. Prior to the next comp I do a lessons learned review and maybe make some changes. I also plot my results. Even if you don't place well doesn't mean you are not improving, so I track my scores. Perhaps the competition was stiffer, pushing you further out of 1st place, but your score could be the highest that you ever had. I think if you are only focusing on the place that you may start making premature changes.

I also keep a time line with all four meats on a single page, in one column. This is important, as some times there is overlap or there are too many things happening at nearly the same time. Perhaps it's time to remove the briskets and then put on the chicken. Too me, if I had a separate time line for each meat then I might concentrate too much on one category and forget something on another. I keep reviewing the time line, looking ahead to be prepared.