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MikeUSMC

Extreme Member
Made some Fireball “Swineapple” kebabs for a picnic the other day. Pork belly burnt ends and a chunk of pineapple (soaked in Fireball whiskey, then rubbed with a brown sugar, cinnamon, and turbinado blend) on a toothpick, wrapped in bacon. Glazed with a mix of Kosmo’s Cherry Habanero BBQ sauce and Pineapple Rib Glaze. Super sweet, but they were out of this world

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I’m not sure how I grossly underestimated how much bacon I needed, but I did, lol. Everything else just got dumped into a pan and people were just scooping it out onto their plates with a spoon, hahaha
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Thanks for looking!
:cheers:
 
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Made some Fireball “Swineapple” kebabs for a picnic the other day. Pork belly burnt ends and a chunk of pineapple (soaked in Fireball whiskey, then rubbed with a brown sugar, cinnamon, and turbinado blend) on a toothpick, wrapped in bacon. Glazed with a mix of Kosmo’s Cherry Habanero BBQ sauce and Pineapple Rib Glaze. Super sweet, but they were out of this world

D201B4D8-6B28-4CE1-80C9-662419037D4A.jpeg

D5B26961-77C3-43E2-9616-6FA3F328FAB6.jpeg

I’m not sure how I grossly underestimated how much bacon I needed, but I did, lol. Everything else just got dumped into a pan and people were just scooping it out onto their plates with a spoon, hahaha
A17DEB98-0069-40A4-99A7-B70B4F88C3A1.jpeg
1A76E0F3-22CE-416A-A42F-8F4B240C524A.jpeg

Thanks for looking!
:cheers:
Out of this world Mike sounds incredible..but the smell must have been in a class of it's own,I'd have been the guy with the Brit accent banging on your backdoor pleading to get in and share some of that.Thx for sharing Wow.🙂🍻
 

MikeUSMC

Extreme Member
I’ve got my very first (amateur) BBQ Competition coming up on Saturday the 25th, so I’m in practice mode right now. I have to submit a pork rib box, a bone-in chicken thigh box, and a “wild card” box (chef’s choice, but it has to be a protein). Here are some of my practice results from 2 days ago.

Chicken thighs. It’s no wonder that competition teams call this “The Devil’s Meat”, because it’s the one entry that keeps everyone up the night before, worrying about it, lol. Typically, I have no problem with these, but the other day (from a competition standpoint) was a disaster, in my opinion. I think the thighs might’ve shifted in the pan a little somewhere along their travels (operator error, I’m guessing), and they ended up finishing all misshapen; ZERO uniformity. I knew some were smaller than others, but a lot of them weren’t even rectangular after they cooked 😳 No judge is going to score highly on trapezoid chicken 🤣 (Yes, I see the thumbprint on those two pieces 😉 I was so pissed off after seeing the shape, I didn’t really care at that point)
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Still got the nice “bite through” skin that everyone aims for, but the color was way off. I have 3 theories (so far) on why this happened…
1) I might’ve been too light handed with the rub on top of the skin
2) I used pads of butter on top of each thigh, right before covering them in foil, instead of spritzing with spray butter like I normally do
3) I might not have left them on the smoker long enough after glazing, and they didn’t get dark enough (edit: these pics look darker than they actually were in person)

Bite pics:
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Spare ribs, I think I did ok. Not great, but not bad. I used 2 different rubs on two different racks for practice, and these shots are from the better of the two; in flavor and appearance:
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Tenderness/texture was on point, but I still wanna try some new things out and tweak a couple of things.

I’ll be practicing again all day today. I’ve got 16 chicken thighs and 4 racks of ribs prepped.

For the chicken, I’m doing 4 of each with the same rub, but I’m going to tweak the glaze on 2 of each 4. So, in the end, I’ll have 8 (slightly) different sets of 2 thighs. I’m mostly going for appearance today.

Ribs is kinda gonna be the same thing. Gonna make 4 racks using different rubs. When they’re done, my plan is to cut each rub in half and glaze each half with 1 of 2 glazes.

ANY and ALL input/advice/criticism FROM EVERYONE would be GREATLY appreciated!

Also, I still don’t know what the hell I’m going to cook for my “wild card” (protein) entry, but it needs to be something that I can cook in about 6 hours. I’m 100% open to listening to suggestions!

I’m really hoping @DownRiver and @midwestchilehead chime in, because I know they’re both KCBS judges. This isn’t a KCBS sanctioned event, but it’d be great to hear your thoughts. There are only 4 judges so I only have to submit 4 portions in each box.

I could really use your (collective) help here, everybody. And, like always, thanks for looking 🍻
 
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DownRiver

Extreme Member
I’m really hoping @DownRiver and @midwestchilehead chime in....


I usually don't share my views on such things, but since you tapped me on the shoulder.....lol.

Keep in mind, the following are my thoughts and opinions only (at least at this minute). Others are free to disagree, just keep it to yourself. SO, here we go!

The #1 goal of a competition BBQ pitmaster is to “offend the fewest”. Not too bland, not too seasoned. Not too sweet, not too spicy. Not under-cooked, not overcooked. Not too hot, not too cold. Etc, etc. Stay middle of the road and keep the majority smiling.

Chicken

First off, bite-through skin is NOT required, but it is nice. Cooks complain about chicken because of the pita of scraping fat from the skin. Definitely don't need to scrape skin to achieve bite-through skin.

To obtain a more uniformed look across pieces, check out this trimming technique. Pay special attention to knocking off the end of the knuckle. You don't remove it, you just flatten it a bit by removing the end of it. Makes a huge difference when trying to hold the chicken between your thumb and index finger to take a bite. Reduces the chance of the slippery sob falling in your lap. Also, don't forget to remove the oyster.


(Among other things, Luke is a past World Foods World BBQ Champion and a KCBS Champion in the Chicken Category – Professional Series (that's like 4K teams). He's a good guy and he knows what he's doing.)

If you do remove skin to scrape, season UNDER the skin to flavor the meat directly. Skin impedes seasoning penetration.

If you inject your chicken, do NOT over-inject. Injecting is not necessary to produce moist chicken.

Season the OUTSIDE of the skin lightly and evenly.

Do NOT over-season! Enhance the flavor of the chicken – do not overwhelm it.

Be sure chicken is done, all the way to the bone.

To finish, dip the chicken in the pan of sauce, do not brush sauce on. You don't want brush marks.

Use the smoker to set the sauce on the dipped chicken until tacky.

Don't burn the sauced chicken. Shoot for a slightly dark, cherry color.

Presentation-wise: KCBS turn-in is 6 pieces. Pitmasters will cook 16-18 thighs and choose best looking 6. In your case, with four Judges, I'd suggest cooking 10-12 and choose best four, shooting for closest in size, shape and color.

Ribs

Remove membrane on inside of rack prior to cooking

Do NOT over-season! Enhance the flavor of the pork – do not overwhelm it.

Be sure ribs are done to the bone. Meat should release easily from the bone, but not fall off the bone. A competition Judge will bite to the bone, and judge based on taste, moisture, tenderness and release from the bone. Judging from your photo of your rib bite, which I never do, it looks under-cooked. The meat is still clinging to the bone. I think hitting this narrow window is a real challenge for a competition Cook.

To finish the ribs, thin your sauce enough to where you do not leave brush marks when applying. (3rd rib pic)

Set sauce similar to chicken, shooting for a dark cherry/light mahagony color.

Presentation-wise: KCBS turn-in is 6 pieces. Pitmasters will typically cook 4-6 racks and choose best looking 2. Then they will cut 4 (sometimes 5) CONTIGUOUS ribs from the center of each rack and turn them in with one rack tiled on top of the other. With four Judges, I'd suggest cooking 3-4 racks and choose best two, shooting for closest in size, shape and color of center 3 or 4 ribs. I'd turn in (2) three-rib sets. If I really wanted to wow them, I'd turn in (2) four-rib sets. Alternatively, you can turn in 4, 5 or 6 contiguous ribs from ONE rack, if they look good. That's a game-time decision.

Wild-Card Protein entry

Sky's the limit lol. Just thinking out loud.....

ANYTHING wrapped in BACON – Poppers, shrimp, scallops, etc. You get the idea.
Mini-cups of cowboy beans topped with one of your pork-belly burnt ends. Hell, ANYTHING with your burnt ends.
Jazzed up hotdog – use your imagination!
Lobster, Mac and Cheese (personally saw it win many times, even receiving a perfect score)

Well, that's enough for now lol. Sorry for the ramble, but you asked!

Any questions, let me know.
 
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I'm not much help on the technical competition side for the chicken or ribs but I think your pork belly burnt end and pineapple would be awesome.
instead of skewered and bacon wrapped , do a bacon cone.


basically wrap aluminium foil around actual ice cream cones flip and stand then weave slices of bacon around that. cook until crispy in the smoker. you would need to figure out the right size cone.

the only thing is if there are presentation rules for the wildcard.

inside of cone means you would need to figure how to keep it upright. set in a plastic champagne flute maybe or some other tall skinny glass.


or you could do some pork tenderloin.

REallytenderloin.jpg
 
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stettoman

Extreme Member
Mike, chicken loves a rotisserie, tha's no lie. You don't have that luxury though, do you? Not with parts you don't...

Off your competition topic: Have you tried that Doolittles rub yet? Next time I'm there I'm going for the gold, going to ask for FIVE lbs. I'll flip you half of it if you found it to be what it is to me...

THEN you'll be competin', brother!! :cheers: :cheers: :cheers:
 

MikeUSMC

Extreme Member
Have you tried that Doolittles rub yet? Next time I'm there I'm going for the gold, going to ask for FIVE lbs. I'll flip you half of it if you found it to be what it is to me...
Not yet, bud, but I promise I will soon, and THANK YOU VERY MUCH for the generous offer! :cheers: I’ve been strictly in “competition practice mode” lately but, once this is over, and I can finally cook to relax, that’ll probably be the first thing I make! (Either on wings or chicken lollipops)
 

MikeUSMC

Extreme Member
By the way, got any details on this event? Sounds interesting.
@DownRiver, I can’t thank you enough for your input, man. I’m too busy right this second to respond to it all, line by line, but I DO appreciate it! :cheers:

A couple of very quick thoughts before I head out the door for the kids’ sports all day… (apologies in advance! I’m not trying to be short/rude to you, lol. I just have a very limited window of free time this morning 😁)

RIBS: Might’ve been hard to tell from those pics, but the ribs came off the bone easily. Not “fall off the bone,” but just enough where you can bite through, if you wanted to, or gently tug the meat off the bone with a slight pull. I’ve been aiming for an I.T. of 206*, and it seems to have been working well lately. Your comment about thinning the glaze to prevent visible brush marks is noted 👍🏻

CHICKEN THIGHS: Great trimming video up there 👆🏻 If I have time between now and the contest, I might try a trim like that (without scraping the skin), and see how it goes. I might actually but a mini loaf tray to try to get some more uniformity in shape and see how that goes (if there’s time 🙄). Any thoughts on that?

I have no shortage of little gadgets to help with the chicken. Pictured here is my “pigtail” (for dunking the thighs in the glaze and avoid fingerprints; works wonders!), a “mosquito” tool (for plucking off any chunks of anything that fall off into the glaze bowl), and a thumb grinder of rub to add a tiny little “pop” of flavor after the glaze. I’ve used this before, on chicken and ribs, but not sure if I’ll use it in the comp)
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I ordered 8 racks of “Kurobuta” St. Louis trimmed spare ribs, which are supposed to be the “Wagyu of pork.” No idea if that’s true or not but, for what I paid for them… they’d f**cking better be! 🤣

WILD CARD MEAT: I’m thinking along the lines of what @Ashen and @DownRiver said, and doing pork belly burnt ends. Possibly with that pineapple I made, and maybe in a bacon cup (muffin rack shape), maybe over my pit beans. I’m not sure if that’s “too much going on” in one item or not. Maybe I’ll skip the beans (I’m running out of time; have to get to sports! Shit! 🤣)

I’ll post more later this afternoon, but here’s all the info I have about the competition itself. This event is really just a craft beer festival with a ton of food trucks, and an amateur Pitmaster competition as a “sideshow.” Yes, there are cash prizes for all 3 categories but, it’s basically just for local bragging rights.

Here’s the website:

Here’s the Pitmaster registration/rules page:

Turn in timeline
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I found pics online of the reigning champions’ turn in boxes too. I don’t have time to now but I’ll post them here later. I still haven’t seen anything about a list of teams that are competing, so I have no idea how many teams there will be, or who I’m against

Ok, I’ve really gotta go now! 😉
Thanks again, everybody! Keep the suggestions coming, please!
:cheers:

(I’m sure this post is riddled with typos and stuff, but I hope it’s coherent, lol! I’ll come back and fix everything later 😁)
 
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MikeUSMC

Extreme Member
Pics of 2019’s Champs’ turn in boxes
(2020’s event was canceled for COVID)

Chicken thighs
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Ribs
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Wild Card. I’m not entirely sure what’s in this, but it looks like some type of wonton. Thanksgiving theme? Is that turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce?
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👆🏻 So, that’s what I’m up against, assuming that team is competing again this year.
Wish me luck
:cheers:
 
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bob65

Extreme Member
Those past champs efforts look pretty sensational there Mike. You will have your work cut out for you for sure.

I have been watching the food that you have been posting here and I reckon you will give them a run for their money.

Good luck with it.
 

MikeUSMC

Extreme Member
I ordered 8 racks of “Kurobuta” St. Louis trimmed spare ribs, which are supposed to be the “Wagyu of pork.” No idea if that’s true or not but, for what I paid for them… they’d f**cking better be! 🤣
So, this idea turned out to be a colossal waste of time and money. Well, not “colossal”, but… The “deal” I found for these ribs was: 2 racks/$70, and if you buy 4 sets of racks, it’s $50 off.

So, that’s $280-50 = $230

I also already had a $100 gift card for this place (that I’d forgotten about, so that was a big plus!) so that brought the total down to $130, or $16.25/rack, which is actually cheaper than I can get “regular” ribs for at the store right now.

Soooooooooo… they got here yesterday… and they’re literally THE skimpiest ribs I think I’ve ever seen. Ever. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of “surface area” on them, but they’re as flat as a fucking pancake. Every single rack. Can’t even use them for the comp. Unbelievable. Whatever.

I’m already spent, mentally (and financially, lol), over this freaking competition. Almost to the point where I don’t even feel like doing it anymore because it’s starting to feel like “work.” Past that point, actually. After some soul searching, I think I’ve decided that I’m just going to make things (close to) the way I usually make them, but dress them up as nice as I can, for nicer appearance

I plan on going in with 4 or 6 racks of ribs, 2 or 3 trays (8 or 9 each) of chicken thighs, and making the Fireball Swineapple things I made a couple weeks ago, either wrapped in bacon or in a bacon muffin cup.

I’ll go in there, do my thing, and let the chips fall where they may. The more I think about it, the more I feel like that’s how I should’ve approached this whole thing from the beginning. I’m a loose cannon and I get stressed out waaaaaay too easily. I’ll let ‘em try my food and, if they like it? Great! If not? No big deal. I know I like it! That’s why I keep making it the way that I do, lol 🤣 At least that’ll give me a starting point to correct any criticisms, coming from a competition standpoint. It’ll be a learning experience, for sure. Maybe I’ll find out that being a “competition guy” isn’t really the thing for me. If these past two weeks are any indicator, then I’d say it’s not, hahaha. I’ll give this one a go, and see how it all plays out. Then again, like most things in life, maybe this is one of those things that keep getting easier every time you do it. Time will tell, I guess.

I’ve already lost enough time, sleep, and money over this thing. I might as well have fun while I’m doing it. After all, it’s just a contest, and they’re supposed to be fun!
(I really have to keep reiterating that to myself ;) )
:cheers:
 
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DownRiver

Extreme Member
@MikeUSMC Man, I'm so far behind in responding to this thread – sorry buddy.

First off, I think you're “new” approach is definitely the way to go. Cook your own cook, and have fun doing it. If those pics of last year's winners are your stiffest competition, you got NOTHING to worry about. Everything I've seen you cook will beat that stuff easy-peasy. And if you come up a little short, BFD. Also long as you had fun doing it, and maybe learned a few things about competition bbq – what's not to like!

The other thing about this comp, which is completely out of your control, is the Judges. Since this isn't a sanctioned contest, the Judges will most likely be a crap-shoot. My town does a Fall Festival and one year they decided to have a chicken competition. Somehow I got sucked in to running the judging side of it. There were six “Judges” - the Mayor, a State Representative, a restaurant owner, a car dealership owner (and two other folks I can't remember) – and NONE had ever judged a contest – ANY kind of contest LOL. I had to give them a crash course in Appearance, Taste and Tenderness. Scores were all over the place. It wasn't pretty. Did the best chicken win? Who knows lol.

Anyway, looking back through your post, you asked about muffin-tin chicken. Answer – depends on the Judge. An experienced Judge doesn't really care. It's all about the taste and tenderness of the chicken. In this case (with inexperienced Judges), I would say Appearance may be a little more important. Remember, people eat with their eyes first. Make sure the box is neat and presentable – no extraneous sauce, orderly, neat, etc.

Your gadgets are all good things to have, especially the thumb grinder. Many competitive cooks use them. They're great to use as you do – held fairly high above the chicken and hit it with a very light dusting. Holding it high distributes the seasoning more evenly. Now for another secret. Take a VERY small amount (like a small pinch) of your seasoning and put it on the UNDERSIDE of the thigh (opposite the skin side). Typically, people bite with the skin side up, so the tongue comes in direct contact with the underside. It's an opportunity to reel in and perfect that overall flavor you want the Judge to experience. But, tread lightly my friend lol. You don't want to blow them out of their seat!

Anyway, again enough with the babble. I'm sure you'll do fine – just have fun!

By the way, it's a good thing you're so far away. If I was there, we'd probably have too much fun and forget to light the smoker!

Any questions, just let me know, and good luck with it!
 
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