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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 09-02-2013, 11:57 AM   #1
McEvoy AZ
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Default How brisket is judged

I have been trying to improve my brisket as it has been lagging compared to my other 3 meats. I am a big enough man to admit that maybe I just don't know what judges are looking for in brisket. I had the same issue with my comp ribs until I had someone tell me that maybe I just didn't understand what I should be looking for. I know there are many CBJ that frequent this forum as well as many comp cooks that have judged a time or too. My question is "What do you look for when judging a competition brisket?"

If you can elaborate on your process for judging it would help as well, such as what you are looking for by doing a pull test. Is there a certain flavor your looking for. Is the bark mushy or firm. How about how it should look in the box.

If you could go thru what your mind is thinking during judging that brisket it would be really appreciated.

Last edited by McEvoy AZ; 09-02-2013 at 12:14 PM..
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Unread 09-02-2013, 01:44 PM   #2
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I am a CBJ and CTC, here is my .02 worth. Over the years I have modified my scoring method somewhat, this is what I currently look for. Of course it should have good color, I disregard the smoke ring if any, but if slices they should all have the same color and be arranged neatly. I prefer there to be no sauce, but so many teams have started turning in brisket with sauce. I don't score down for sauce, unless it overpowers the meat. On appearance I don't score down if the meat looks dry, I use the tenderness score for that, what I mean is if it looks dry, but the mouth feel is not dry it won't be scored down, if I need a gulp of water to get it swallowed (and this has happened to me) it will be scored down. I don't look at or score down if the slices are thick or thin, as long as they look good. Fat on the slices doesn't bother me, but many judges are grossed out by the fat so watch out for that.

I use the pull test as a first consideration of tenderness, the true test is how the meat chews. I have had brisket that wouldn't pull worth a darn, but when chewing it was fine. I even had brisket sliced with the grain that didn't pull at all, but when taking a bite was very tender, and I gave it a good score.

Burnt ends are not necessary, I won't score down if they are not there. And everyone will tell you, if the ends are not tasty and tender, DO NOT include them. If the slices are terrific and the burnt ends are terrible, I will average the two in my mind and score accordingly. Also the burnt ends need to have the fat rendered, even though I like fat it is not good if all the burnt end is is a glob of fat, it might be tasty fat, but it ruins the mouth feel for me.

It is difficult for me to put into words all the little things that go through my mind when judging but I hope this helps a little.
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Unread 09-02-2013, 01:50 PM   #3
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I assume that you area looking for KCBS judges to respond to this. If not, then please indicate what sanctioning body you are competing in.

As far as presentation (Appearance), we usually see slices (6-10) running across the box, often with burnt ends in front of the slices. This is pretty typical of brisket boxes; HOWEVER, BEs are NOT required (slices are not required either, but almost every brisket box that I've judged has had slices in it). 1/4" thick slices are typical. Ensure that your brisket looks moist!

From a Tenderness perspective - judges are taught to do the pull test to see how easily the slices pulls apart. You want a little elasticity, but not much. Also, mouth feel is important in tenderness, how well does it chew. Bark doesn't make that much difference in tenderness as long as it isn't too tough. BLACK bark can be a ding on appearance though as black usually looks 'burnt' even though it is normal for brisket.

Taste is EXTREMELY difficult to pin-point what tastes good as a judge. What doesn't appeal that much to a judge is "pot-roast" flavor. Good beef flavor (without much sauce if any) seems to work best for judges.

Of course, most of this is my opinion, but also what I've heard talking with other judges over the past numerous years.
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Unread 09-02-2013, 02:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbq.tom View Post
I assume that you area looking for KCBS judges to respond to this. If not, then please indicate what sanctioning body you are competing in.

As far as presentation (Appearance), we usually see slices (6-10) running across the box, often with burnt ends in front of the slices. This is pretty typical of brisket boxes; HOWEVER, BEs are NOT required (slices are not required either, but almost every brisket box that I've judged has had slices in it). 1/4" thick slices are typical. Ensure that your brisket looks moist!

From a Tenderness perspective - judges are taught to do the pull test to see how easily the slices pulls apart. You want a little elasticity, but not much. Also, mouth feel is important in tenderness, how well does it chew. Bark doesn't make that much difference in tenderness as long as it isn't too tough. BLACK bark can be a ding on appearance though as black usually looks 'burnt' even though it is normal for brisket.

Taste is EXTREMELY difficult to pin-point what tastes good as a judge. What doesn't appeal that much to a judge is "pot-roast" flavor. Good beef flavor (without much sauce if any) seems to work best for judges.

Of course, most of this is my opinion, but also what I've heard talking with other judges over the past numerous years.
Sounds like an expectation to me.... but good advice
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Unread 09-02-2013, 03:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pappy Q View Post
Sounds like an expectation to me.... but good advice
just an observation
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Unread 09-02-2013, 05:58 PM   #6
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I do KCBS and BCS in AZ. Lots of great info. My feeling is I might be over rubbing the meat as I got a mushy bark but juicy meat. During pc I heard feedback that it tasted salty or soy sauce covered.
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Unread 09-02-2013, 06:10 PM   #7
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I am no judge. But, I have had a chance to taste the winning brisket in four comps. One was the classic hickory smoke, pepper/salt rub, Blues Hog profile. The other three were far more subtle than I expected. The bark on the three was soft, reddish and the flavor was more balanced, favoring salt over black pepper. And they were very moist, but, not wet. In terms of pull, it was what you always hear.
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Unread 09-02-2013, 06:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pappy Q View Post
Sounds like an expectation to me.... but good advice
Zing!

but what kind of pulled test is done on pulled brisket?
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Unread 09-02-2013, 10:04 PM   #9
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This won't be popular, but I wish that we could do away with the "pull test" and any other tenderness criteria that involves using your hands. IMHO squeezing, poking, pressing, or anything else that you have to use your hands for should be abolished.

Taste and tenderness should be judged simultaneously.
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Unread 09-02-2013, 10:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McEvoy AZ View Post
I do KCBS and BCS in AZ. Lots of great info. My feeling is I might be over rubbing the meat as I got a mushy bark but juicy meat. During pc I heard feedback that it tasted salty or soy sauce covered.
Are you using an aus jus?
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Unread 09-02-2013, 11:32 PM   #11
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Just mainly the juices from the brisket. I use about a 1/4 cup of beef broth when I wrap. My last brisket jiggled just like a bowl of jello, but now time figure the thing other then tenderness.
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Unread 09-05-2013, 06:59 PM   #12
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If your not using your fingers to "feel" the meat your not a true BBQ Connoisseur. (in my humble opinion).
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Unread 09-05-2013, 07:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuff Dawg View Post
If your not using your fingers to "feel" the meat your not a true BBQ Connoisseur. (in my humble opinion).
Not disagreeing with you since you are judging competitors, but I've never seen or heard of someone at a BBQ joint trying the meat with their fingers first to see how good it was.
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