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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 07-10-2012, 10:59 AM   #1
PatioDaddio
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Default Competition BBQ, Pit Barrel-style!

Competition BBQ, Pit Barrel-style!

The weekend before last I competed at the Northwest Ribfest across town
in Meridian, Idaho. I hadn't competed since 2010 because, quite frankly, it
had gotten to the point to where it was more drudgery than fun.
Fortunately for me, like riding a bike, you never forget how to compete
once you've done it a few times. This time out I had an interesting and
very welcome twist.


Photo courtesy of Noah Glanville, Pit Barrel Cooker Company

Back in March I reviewed the Pit Barrel Cooker (here and here). Well, the
founder and president of the company, Noah Glanville graciously offered to
bring a load of four barrels all the way from the Denver area and hang out
for the competition. I typically cook on my homemade Ugly Drum Smokers
(UDS's), but I was very eager to cook an entire competition on the Pit
Barrels. Noah had competed for the first time using his barrels just the
weekend prior. He did very well for a first-timer, including taking eight place
in pork among a very solid field of competitors. I was blown away,
especially when he told me that he had never cooked a pork butt on a PBC
before then.

Noah arrived Friday afternoon (after a 13-hour drive with only a short nap
along the way) and we set-up for the traditional cook's potluck. Noah
brought tri-tip and chicken and cooked it all in the Pit Barrels. The three
barrels cooked enough meat to serve about 80 people. The meat was
outstanding as always, so we had some seriously happy eaters.



I always enjoy changing things up a bit at each competition. I don't think
that I've ever cooked the same way twice, and this was certainly no
exception. I had cooked three of the four competition meats (chicken, pork
ribs, pulled pork, and brisket) on my barrel at home, but I had never done a
brisket. Brisket is widely considered the most difficult of the competition
meats to cook, so I was a bit concerned.

In addition to using new competition cookers, I decided that I was going to
stay true to the vertical cooking method of the PBC and hang all four
meats. As if there weren't enough variables, I also decided to cook Cornish
game hens (12 halves) for my chicken turn-in. Although I had cooked a
bunch of chicken on the barrel, I'd never cooked hens. All of this variation
caused me to pretty much throw my entire known timeline out the window.
Noah's experience the week before really helped provide some valuable
reference points as we guesstimated the new timeline. We were almost
literally making it up as we went along.


Photo courtesy of Noah Glanville, Pit Barrel Cooker Company

As for the cook, I was amazed at how smoothly it went given that I was
rusty. Things just fell into place and the timing was right on the money,
with the exception of starting the chicken a little late, which rushed the
first turn-in box prep.

I wish that we had taken a picture of the chicken box. I was able to fit
seven whole leg quarters in the box, and it really looked great. The flavor
and juiciness were outstanding, as Pit Barrel chicken always is.
The ribs were really good, and it showed in the scoring. I hung three racks
of St. Louis spareribs for two hours, wrapped them in foil for a little over an
hour, then glazed them on the grate that's included with the Pit Barrel. Like
the chicken, I wish that we had taken a picture of the finished box.

As for the pork, my family said it was some of the best that I've ever
cooked. That amazed me since it was only the second time that I'd cooked
a pork butt in the barrel. It was eight pounds raw and it took five hours to
cook, which included wrapping it in foil and finishing it on the grate. The
crust (bark) was outstanding and the texture was dead-on.



We hung the brisket (about 11 pounds trimmed) in the same barrel as the
pork and it was done in less than six hours (also wrapped and finished on
the grate). I was tending other things and forgot to check the temperature
as often as I should, so it overcooked by a few degrees. The color and
tenderness were great, the flavor was good, but it was a touch dry.



Noah and I sampled, analyzed and discussed each meat as I was cutting,
boxing and turning in. We were very pleased with the results and we
thought that we had a good shot at some calls to the stage during the
awards ceremony. My family was there sampling and offering moral support.
Our girls really dig hanging out at competitions and they are great
cheerleaders.

After the cook Noah cleaned and re-boxed the three cookers that we
used. He very graciously gave a cooker to each competitor that took first
in a category, and one to the overall grand champion. Cooks really love
extra spoils like that, and I thank Noah for offering them. He is a serious
class act, and I'm blessed to call him a friend.

In the end we took 10th in chicken, 7th in ribs, 10th in pork, and 14th in
brisket among a strong field of 25. It was a solid showing and I was very
happy with everything that I turned in. The Pit Barrel Cooker is no joke in
competition! I had a great time hanging out with Noah and I certainly
appreciated all of his help and company.

I still consider myself to be in Brett Favre-style retirement from
competition, but I really did enjoy seeing my friends and being in the
familiar competition environment. That's the part that I'll always love.
There are no people like barbecue people.

-----
John
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Unread 07-10-2012, 11:14 AM   #2
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Awesome! Great job, that cooker looks interesting.
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Unread 07-10-2012, 11:43 AM   #3
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I'm not a judge or a competitor, but I would eat the heck outta those 2 boxes of pork and brisket. They look fantastic. Did you hang the pork butt and brisket also?
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Unread 07-10-2012, 11:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fingerlickin' View Post
I'm not a judge or a competitor, but I would eat the heck outta those 2 boxes of pork and brisket. They look fantastic. Did you hang the pork butt and brisket also?
Thanks! Yup, as I mentioned in the post, we hung all four meats.

John
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Unread 07-10-2012, 12:04 PM   #5
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Very cool thing for Noah to do! Congrats on the cook....those boxes look freaking awesome!
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Unread 07-10-2012, 01:32 PM   #6
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We were at the comp he did in Denver. I am still trying to figure out how he was able to get the big meats done while showing up at 6am on Saturday.

Definitely sounds more like a grill than a smoker.
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Unread 07-10-2012, 01:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcbrew13 View Post
We were at the comp he did in Denver. I am still trying to figure out how he was able to get the big meats done while showing up at 6am on Saturday.

Definitely sounds more like a grill than a smoker.
Yeah, Noah told me about some of the looks he got when he rolled up in
the AM.

The PBC is really neither a grill, nor a smoker. I heard Noah describe it as "a
stationary rotisserie", which I think is an excellent description. It cooks
faster, but not at typical "hot-n-fast" temperature. Mine were running right
at 275* at the lid during our comp cook.

John
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Unread 07-10-2012, 04:52 PM   #8
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Sweet! I took one for a test run over the weekend with a turkey breast, smoke baby chickens and a rack of ribs and really enjoyed all of it. I was surprised how evenly it cooked hanging directly over the fire.
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Unread 07-10-2012, 04:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeInDaEye View Post
Sweet! I took one for a test run over the weekend with a turkey breast, smoke baby chickens and a rack of ribs and really enjoyed all of it. I was surprised how evenly it cooked hanging directly over the fire.
Cool! Noah told me that he sent you one. He'll be very interested to hear
your thoughts. That's his personal cell number on the label on the front of the
barrel.

John
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Unread 07-10-2012, 05:28 PM   #10
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That's a cool story John. Thanks for sharing that, and congrats!
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Unread 07-10-2012, 06:38 PM   #11
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good job, great story, and really nice of noah.

your boxes look pretty darn tasty too.
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Unread 07-10-2012, 06:52 PM   #12
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Would it work to run some rebar across a UDS and get some hangers to replicate this type of cook? What am I missing? I don't have a heat sink, so it feels like I am pretty much there. Right?
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Unread 07-10-2012, 07:04 PM   #13
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Great job - but an almost better report. Just a terrific read. Sounds and looks like you had a blast.
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Unread 07-10-2012, 11:32 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twelvegaugepump View Post
Would it work to run some rebar across a UDS and get some hangers to replicate this type of cook? What am I missing? I don't have a heat sink, so it feels like I am pretty much there. Right?
I've wondered the same thing, but I really think that it has something to do
with the barrel size (30-gallon). I think the close proximity causes more
convection and infrared heating.

It really is a great little cooker. Tri-tip is done to a perfect medium-rare in
about 35 minutes flat. Oh, and it's an edge-to-edge medium-rare, no
gnarly gray band around the edge, and no reverse-sear monkey business
to worry about.

We also threw some ribeyes on the rack (lid off) for just a few minutes,
and it was incredible.

John
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