Originally Posted by Solidkick
So let me ask this....if the difference in the make up of the pellets (hickory, oak etc...) isn't giving you distinct flavor differences, then are you saying that your winning ways are coming strictly from your rub and sauce combinations? I would think you'd have to have some flavor from the pellets, maybe not the fruit woods per sec, but the hickory, maple, etc....
Well, ummmmmmmm, I guess the short answer is "no." However there is way more to it. I think a combination of things, including luck, have contributed to our success this year. After all, no matter how well you cook, you still have to find four tables of six judge (five really) that like your product on that day.
Honestly, having your product perfectly cooked and not giving the judges something to ding you for, is probably what works best for us. Hopefully, nothing we do is offensive to a judge, whether that be smoke, spice, sauce, etc. When it comes to doneness, overs usually beat unders, but when it comes to seasoning, sauce and smoke, unders usually beat overs. If anything, no matter how hard you try, you won't over smoke your product with pellets. That eliminates one variable in the equation, allowing the cook to concentrate on other things.
I'm rambling here, but not on purpose. It's hard to get it all out in print this way. Hopefully I'm sort of clear. If not, ask questions.
P.S. - As I read this, I sort of confuse myself because I'm always trying to put myself in someone else's shoes. Someone might respond that we had some success with a stick burner this year as well. EVERY contest we cooked, somebody walked up to my pit on Saturday morning to comment that I wasn't cooking. Every one of them. It was a huge compliment to me each and every time. They couldn't see the smoke coming out of my stack. That's exactly how I want my pit to burn.