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Competition BBQ *On Topic Only* Discussion regarding all aspects of Competition BBQ. Experiences competing or visiting, questions, getting started, Equipment, announcements of events, Results, Reviews, Planning, etc. Questions here will be responded to with competition BBQ in mind.


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Unread 02-13-2012, 05:08 PM   #1
NS Mike D
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Default Pulled Pork Questions

Do you add the juices into the pulled pork? I did not last night (the stuff was so good as is).

It was very late so I left the foil with the juices on the counter for easier disposal in the morning, and I was surprised to see there was very little in the way of fat and mostly collagen (looked like red aspic).


A second question was how sweet for the sauce.


I've been making my pork with high vinegar moderate sugar sauces, but I hear KCBS judges like sweet, even more so here in the north east.


I spilled about a half cup more sugar than I normally would last night and it came out much like the store sauces.

Is that level sweet closer to the profile for North East KCBS? Or will I get hammered with a sauce that features cider vinegar?
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Unread 02-13-2012, 06:17 PM   #2
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From what I've seen, and what I've read, I think nothing is more regional in barbecue than pulled pork.

As to sauces, it should be light and compliment the meat and rub spices, and not cover it. Judges are just people. I suggest having about 8 or 10 people over one day, cook your pork, serve a number of sauces on the side and ask them to review them. See what happens...

I know that here vinegar sauces are either loved or hated by judges; with very few opinions in-between.

I'm not sure how well they'd be received in your area, even though I personally prefer them.
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Unread 02-14-2012, 10:34 AM   #3
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Can't speak to other parts of the country as we have only competed in MI, IL, and WI, but I think judges and sweet applies more to chicken and ribs, and not to pork or brisket. We have had good results with a vinegar based sauce on our pork, but I don't sauce much, just a little as a seasoning method. Pork should be plenty juicy without any sauce at all , but a little bit seems to keep it from drying out between our site and turn in tent.
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Unread 02-15-2012, 12:33 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NS Mike D View Post
Or will I get hammered with a sauce that features cider vinegar?
Oh ya.

I like vinegar sauces, but one of the first things I learned was...don't use 'em in a contest in the northeast. You can have a touch of vinegar in there, but it should not dominate the flavor profile.
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Unread 02-15-2012, 08:41 AM   #5
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I prefer a vinegar 'sauce' on my pork, but would never use it in a contest. You can always dilute your normal sauce and add to pulled, just don't over sauce it. Judges won't like too much sauce.
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Unread 02-15-2012, 04:50 PM   #6
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I know this question has been beat to death, but I have heard at least 50 times the mantra: "I like a NC or vinegar based sauce but I don't use it because judges hate it" It's weird, but it seems to be true. I don't get it.

We use a thinned out version of a sweet sauce, lightly applied. We have above average success...still looking for the breakthrough secret tho.
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Unread 02-15-2012, 11:33 PM   #7
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Glad I found this thread so I'm not starting a duplicate.

I'm competing in my first KCBS contest in eastern NC and wasn't sure what flavor profile to go for on the sauce. I'm from NC and used to the vinegar based sauce but thought since it is a KCBS event I would go with sweet this time around. What's you thoughts?

I'm also entering a competition later in the year that is sanctioned by the NCBS. NO doubt I'm going with vinegar for that one.
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Unread 02-16-2012, 07:31 AM   #8
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A major key in cooking in competitions, regardless of what you cook, regardless of the sanctioning body, is to understand scoring. The idea is to delight every judge every time. Frankly, my experience is that you can never delight every judge. You're lucky if you delight 4 out of 6 most of the time. As that's not really achievable, the way to get consistently up in scores to make darned sure that you dont really offend any judge. By not offending anyone you reduce the down-side exposure. With that, stay away from the terrible 2's. Too sweet; bad. Too salty; bad. Too black; bad. Too yellow; bad. Too spicy; bad. Too anything is bad. Find that balance that doesn't offend anyone. Hit the mark dead-on on tenderness. You'll place very high.

And this is where vinegar sauces, like mustard sauces, or white/mayo sauce, etc. Too this, too that...
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Unread 02-16-2012, 02:06 PM   #9
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My first big surprise as a judge came on this issue. I judge in the mid-atlantic, which I am assuming judges similar to the NE.

I personally prefer vinegar sauces, so the first time I judged a vinegar sauce I was quite surprised when four of the six judges had negative comments about it. As a judge, I always try to check my "preferences" at the tent flap, always trying to judge "as presented." I think that I am fairly successful at that, but I also hear too many judges that only factor what they like and don't like, and vinegar sauces suffer.

Having said all of that, I am planning on competiting for the first time this year. Because I am a hardhead and personally prefer vinegar sauce on pulled pork, that is how I am going to submit it. I don't know how long it will take me to learn my lesson, but hopefully not too long.
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Unread 02-16-2012, 02:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdwalker View Post
My first big surprise as a judge came on this issue. I judge in the mid-atlantic, which I am assuming judges similar to the NE.

I personally prefer vinegar sauces, so the first time I judged a vinegar sauce I was quite surprised when four of the six judges had negative comments about it. As a judge, I always try to check my "preferences" at the tent flap, always trying to judge "as presented." I think that I am fairly successful at that, but I also hear too many judges that only factor what they like and don't like, and vinegar sauces suffer.

Having said all of that, I am planning on competiting for the first time this year. Because I am a hardhead and personally prefer vinegar sauce on pulled pork, that is how I am going to submit it. I don't know how long it will take me to learn my lesson, but hopefully not too long.
do as a competitor as you would a judge.

check your preferences at the door. it's been said a thousand times a vinegar sauce won't fly up here. why waste an entry on ego?

get it right and score well a few times...then branch out and experiment.
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Unread 02-16-2012, 02:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boogiesnap View Post
do as a competitor as you would a judge.

check your preferences at the door. it's been said a thousand times a vinegar sauce won't fly up here. why waste an entry on ego?

get it right and score well a few times...then branch out and experiment.

Thanks, BS, I appreciate the advice. That is the first time that someone has made me even consider the "cook for the judges" mantra. Funny how I am so willing to check my preferences at the door as a judge, but have never even considered the same as a cook.
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Unread 02-16-2012, 02:54 PM   #12
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It's hard not to cook what you like. I think I'm the best judge of my product (at least in my backyard!). Personally, I really like this mustard sauce I make and a mixed vinegar sauce with Dr. BBQ's 13 pepper blend. Don't use it in competition though. Figure the judges don't have as good taste as me! (This is an example of cook's ego and posted very tongue/cheek! But I'm right about the mustard sauce!)
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Unread 02-16-2012, 03:37 PM   #13
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Great posts guys. I guess that settles it. I'll skip on the vinegar for now.

That brings up another question, can you use two difference sauces with your BBQ? One that is on the sweet side for the judges and one that is vinegar for the People's Choice. Being in NC I know the vinegar would go over really well with the crowd.
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Unread 02-16-2012, 04:37 PM   #14
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I've never seen Peoples Choice be part of a sanctioned entry; meaning sure, submit them differently.

For giggles, and to really confuse matters, some sanctioning bodies allow you to submit your sauce on the side. And of those, some allow you to submit 2 sauces. WE DO; on the side. :-)
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Unread 02-16-2012, 07:41 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdwalker View Post
I personally prefer vinegar sauces, so the first time I judged a vinegar sauce I was quite surprised when four of the six judges had negative comments about it. As a judge, I always try to check my "preferences" at the tent flap, always trying to judge "as presented." I think that I am fairly successful at that, but I also hear too many judges that only factor what they like and don't like, and vinegar sauces suffer.

Having said all of that, I am planning on competiting for the first time this year. Because I am a hardhead and personally prefer vinegar sauce on pulled pork, that is how I am going to submit it. I don't know how long it will take me to learn my lesson, but hopefully not too long.
A friend of mine entered his first contest and planned on entering PP like he made it for family & friends - with vinegar sauce. The contest organizer stopped by and my friend gave him a sample since he wasn't a judge. The organizer told my friend, "BBQ turned in with that sauce will never win at MY competition!" He suggested that the team go down the road to a grocery and get a bottle of Kraft or something and turn that in. My friend was hard headed too, and turned in his PP with vinegar sauce. Sure enough, he finished DAL in pork that day.

Learned his lesson pretty quickly. Only took one comp.
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