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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 07-11-2010, 10:56 AM   #1
ZILLA
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Default Ways to improve consistency

I can't help but notice that many folks don't see the big picture when it comes to winning or placing at competitions.

A tasty recipe and a quality pit will not take you to the top of your game. It's consistency across the board that does it. Long term consistency. There is no magic bullet to winning, it's more like a magic formula, and every team needs a different formula that will suit them.

I thought it would be a benefit to the cookers who have not figured this out yet, or those who have not embraced this philosophy, to compile a a list of way to bring consistency to your competition efforts.

Those with Pellet cooker should bring forth ideas on that equipment likewise stick burners impart their wisdom in the finer points of those pits.

I hope you will all make an effort to build this into a great resource of ideas that we can all use and learn from.
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Unread 07-11-2010, 11:06 AM   #2
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If you want to be consistent get a plan and stick to it. We have a schedule we follow and don't deviate from it. We use the same rubs, sauces etc we always use and cook at the same temps for the same time. We cook on average the same size meat and quantity. But maybe the most important thing is to pay attention to detail.
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Unread 07-11-2010, 11:24 AM   #3
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Stick Burners: Firewood

An often overlooked aspect of using a stick burner to its full potential is high quality firewood. Here are a few guidelines that I believe are key.

100% heartwood with no bark is the holy grail of premium firewood for a stick burner. Get as close as you can.

Find a source for high quality firewood of the type you like. Make sure it is free of mold and mildew. Make sure the wood is split logs of the right length for your firebox and no more than four to five inches in it's general diameter. Do not use round wood, by that I mean round branch wood as they tend to produce more smoke from the bark and it has more sapwood and less heartwood.

Buy enough for an entire cooking season, or more if you can afford it and have the room to store it. Stack it 12" off the ground to reduce bug infestation and cover the top of the stack to prevent leaves from turning into mulch in your wood. Store it in a sunny well ventilated area.
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Unread 07-11-2010, 11:29 AM   #4
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Stick Burner: Preheat firewood

I thought this was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard when I was given this golden nugget. I'm now a believer.....

Preheated wood ignites almost right away and reduces the white smoke that produces off flavors on your meat.
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Unread 07-11-2010, 12:12 PM   #5
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Take good notes, they help. Then you have a better chance of repoducing after a walk.
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Unread 07-11-2010, 12:29 PM   #6
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I agree with you Zilla....stickburners play a tricky game. Heartwood and preheating are great tips for stick burners for sure........but for some, its not always achievable to do both. The use of fruit wood can often offset undesirable characteristics of stick burning (thin bark, light flavor) as opposed to woods like oak (thicker bark, stronger flavor), which really benefit from pre heating.

This is a great post BTW, I'm learning, its not about a magic bullet.......its about details
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Unread 07-11-2010, 12:38 PM   #7
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I'm by no means a contender in KCBS, but I think that the key for us is going to be practice. I try and cook some category every week. The way I manage to do this is that I find someone who will pay the cost of the meat so that I can afford to cook as often as possible. Also makes friends and family really happy. It's like getting two birds stoned at once.
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Unread 07-11-2010, 01:43 PM   #8
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Pratice and good notes are the best, but that doesnt improve the consistency of the judging.
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Unread 07-11-2010, 02:01 PM   #9
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Consistency of the judging is beyond our control. Consistent cooks win consistently regardless of the judges.
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Unread 07-11-2010, 02:07 PM   #10
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1. Know your pit(s)...
2. Game Plan...
3. Stick to the Game plan...
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Unread 07-11-2010, 02:23 PM   #11
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Well said Zilla, I have had several calls through the six KCBS comps I have done in a little over two years and an RGC in a non sanctioned comp I competed in. Seems we always do well in two or three catagories and bomb in one, and it's a different catagory each time. So after my last competition in April it dawned on me that I believed our problem was timing and consistancy, so I have spent the last three months working on exactly that, timing and consistancy. Oh yea one more thing, I learned that you have to be having a good time and not taking it too seriously. This may sound funny but I used to take it way too serious and spent the time focusing on every little aspect instead of going around meeting and talking with other teams and having a good time. Seems now that I am more relaxed about things and not so uptight that things roll much smoother. Well at this I will be testing this out next weekend at Que and Cruz and I hope for our best finish yet!

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Unread 07-11-2010, 05:01 PM   #12
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Consistency ? Practice !!!!!
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Unread 07-11-2010, 07:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monty3777 View Post
I'm by no means a contender in KCBS, but I think that the key for us is going to be practice. I try and cook some category every week. The way I manage to do this is that I find someone who will pay the cost of the meat so that I can afford to cook as often as possible. Also makes friends and family really happy. It's like getting two birds stoned at once.
Um, didn't you win a category yesterday out of 63 teams, Mr Contender?
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Unread 07-11-2010, 07:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZILLA View Post
Stick Burner: Preheat firewood

I thought this was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard when I was given this golden nugget. I'm now a believer.....

Preheated wood ignites almost right away and reduces the white smoke that produces off flavors on your meat.
Stick Burner:

- To elaborate on preheating, I use a 2-stage preheating method. I place 3 sticks on my firebox and rotate the next piece from the top of the firebox into the firebox, but away from the fire for enhanced preheating. This wood does ignite right away when placed into the fire.

- Leave exhaust vent fully open so the smoke doesn't linger too long, causing bitter tasing food.

- Keep a fire small enough so that it burns hot and does not smoulder. Visiting some of the woodstove sites may be beneficial to understand clean burning fire control........it's basically the same thing.
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Unread 07-12-2010, 10:01 AM   #15
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A task schedule is a very good tool for me. Keeps my timing spot on.
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