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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 08-22-2012, 06:11 AM   #1
bmonkman
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Default Is heat necessary?

I wasn't sure whether to post this here or in Q-Talk. But since the question came up when thinking about judges and taste preferences I figured I would put it here.

Most rubs, marinades and mops seem to call for some amounts of cayenne or chili or some form of heat inducing ingredient.

My question is this.....do judges expect a bit of heat when them bite into a brisket or a rib, etc.? Have you ever known anyone to get called after submitting something that was more sweet or nutty for example?

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Unread 08-22-2012, 08:54 AM   #2
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I don't think it is required per se (and I am not expert) but it does add a level of 'depth' to your flavor. I am a spice junky so I tend to over heat things. I need my wife to help me dial it back to normal levels.
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Unread 08-22-2012, 09:38 AM   #3
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I agree that it's probably more about depth, than heat. Sometimes ingredients that are super hot on their own are used not so much for the heat, but to play off other flavors. Take cayenne pepper in Hollandaise for example. Without it. the sauce is kind of flat and pasty. Add a quarter teaspoon of cayenne, however, and the sauce comes to life, without being "hot" in the least.
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Unread 08-22-2012, 10:14 AM   #4
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As a judge, we're there tasting quite a bit of BBQ. You want yours to stand out in a good way. Bland stands out, but not good. Overly spicy stands out, again not good. You want something that in a bite or two says "DAMN, THAT'S AWESOME". It'll need some depth without conflicting (many sauces conflict with rubs). You dont have to have cayenne, but cayenne does have a good pepper flavor and in tiny amounts does as Mdboatbum says, brings things to life.
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Unread 08-22-2012, 11:43 AM   #5
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So to the judges out there - have you judged turn-ins that were very light on the heat (and perhaps no heat at all) and had another type of rub that you found interesting and distinct AND it scored well at your table?

You may wonder what is driving this. Well, primarily, it is because my wife has colitis and cannot handle anything spicy hot at all. We are hoping to enter competitive grilling sometime over the next couple of years and she was wondering if we would be shooting ourselves in the foot (competitively speaking) if we tried to develop something she could tolerate.
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Unread 08-22-2012, 11:59 AM   #6
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For competition BBQ you would be "shooting yourself in the foot". You need big bold flavors, both spicy and sweet. They need to compliment each other and after one bit a judge says wow what great flavor. If I et a whole rib bone my tongue says that sure was spicy but sweet. Remember judges et one bite usually and make a decision. Cook competition for judges and cook at home BBQ the way you like.
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Unread 08-22-2012, 12:19 PM   #7
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I tend to take two bites a medium then a small bite after the palates clears when judging when I can. The double bite helps me confirm what I'm tasting.

Listening after judging around the table three things around taste may come up that are not usually appreciated. For some palates it can be more pronounced than others.
1-Meat candy overly sweet or cloying.
2-overly spiced (not just hot) to the point you feel that the next sample may be screwed your taste buds though eating some parsley helps clear that problem.
3- off flavors that could be categorized as but not always the actual cause like, burnt, chemical either 'lighter fluid' or 'injection' or even a spoiled taste.

These are the ones that tend to bring the scores down
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Unread 08-22-2012, 01:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
You may wonder what is driving this. Well, primarily, it is because my wife has colitis and cannot handle anything spicy hot at all
Sort of OT, but I find this odd. I've been dealing with ulcerative colitis for over 20 years, and love spicy foods. The big trigger for me is too many gas producing veggies combined with high stress level. I can eat hot spicy stuff 24 x 7, and believe it improves my blood pressure and heart health.

I've never judged BBQ, but have judged world class chili comps. Loved the spicy stuff, hated the chili that was more sweet than heat. I love sugar, just not in my BBQ or chili so much.
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Unread 08-22-2012, 02:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Ropo View Post
Sort of OT, but I find this odd. I've been dealing with ulcerative colitis for over 20 years, and love spicy foods. The big trigger for me is too many gas producing veggies combined with high stress level. I can eat hot spicy stuff 24 x 7, and believe it improves my blood pressure and heart health.
My mother has colitis as well and different foods trigger an attack then the foods that trigger an attack for my wife. I asked our Dr. about it and she said there doesn't appear to be an real consistent pattern to what are the triggers for this condition.
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Unread 08-22-2012, 02:51 PM   #10
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"Sweet heat" seems to be the current wow factor in judging. A balance is essential as one way or the other will result in a low score. The question is where is that balance?
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Unread 08-22-2012, 03:52 PM   #11
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Bear in mind that smoke mutes heat. You can put a lot of hot stuff on ribs, for example, at the start of the cook and it will not be anything close to 5 alarm at the end. Heat added during the wrapping phase will get less smoke, and present as having more heat.

You should cook for the judges, though. If your wife can't hand hot, cook some meat without the heat. Heat is relative, but it should not be making the judges reach for the water. It should add flavor and interest, but you aren't getting points for making it only spicy.
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Unread 08-22-2012, 05:21 PM   #12
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This has all been great stuff folks. My wife and I both understand the need to please the judges. Of course that is what it is all about right - and enjoying yourself in the process of course.

All of your feedback has been very helpful. Thanks loads.
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Unread 08-22-2012, 05:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmonkman View Post
We are hoping to enter competitive grilling sometime over the next couple of years and she was wondering if we would be shooting ourselves in the foot (competitively speaking) if we tried to develop something she could tolerate.
I had this discussion with a friend of mine a coule weeks ago. His wife has a medical issue that limits the types of food she can eat. He says that since they applied the ingredients that she can eat into their bbq recipes, their scores have dropped and hardly get calls anymore. But they continue to do it because she enjoys the process of developing the recipes. He is considering going back to the recipes they used when they were winning.

I guess for you it matters what is more important, the development of the recipes and having a good time, or winning some money. This is not to say that the recipes you create cannot win, but the balance of heat and sweet is important.
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Unread 08-22-2012, 07:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Valley BBQ View Post
I guess for you it matters what is more important, the development of the recipes and having a good time, or winning some money. This is not to say that the recipes you create cannot win, but the balance of heat and sweet is important.
No truer words have been uttered. Kathy and I have had this very discussion. I have been thinking looking at entering a comp in a way that we could turn into two different submissions. One done the tried and true way and another done in the way that suits us.

Life is all about choices and at times compromises. Like I said to Kathy today - this has been good for us. Learning, discussing, listening, thinking - all good. I am blessed to have such an amazing lady as my partner and to have people I can turn to when I have questions we cannot answer ourselves.

- Brian
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Unread 08-22-2012, 07:36 PM   #15
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I think a lot of it can be regional. We used to cook in the SW where a bit of heat was often used. We now cook in Hawaii, where sweet is the expectation.

We did an event last year where we placed 3rd in chicken, but a judge said it was a bit on the spicy side. We just did this same event this past weekend and made some tweaks:

1) removed cayenne, and white pepper from rub
2) removed peppercorns from brine
3) Went with a sweeter sauce, with no heat

It must have worked, because we were lucky enough to finish 1st in that category. I suppose if I had to choose what to turn-in nowdays, I'd lean to the sweeter side as opposed to the spicy side.

Best of luck.
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