Mt. Carmel IL Ribberfest 2013
God is great, Beer is good and Judges are crazy
Thank you sir may I have another! That is the phrase that wraps up our time at the Mt Carmel Ribberfest. This was our second competition of the year and one that we left for with high hopes of continuing to improve.After guessing where to approach the event (the signs that were suppose to be up directing you were to go were not there), we find the organizer and asked where to park. He directed us and our 32' motorhome to a 4 parking spot wide spot. Somehow I don't think this is going to fit. I brought up my concerns about fitting and got a confused look back like I didn't know what I was talking about. Unbeknownst to m,e the car parking in our spot was only there temporarily. So I parked in the middle and waited for the visitor to return their car and leave. In the meantime, Leslie noticed all of the little shops lining the road and asked if she could walk around while we were waiting. Before I could say yes, I think she had already made it into the first one.
The visitor of the post office finally came out and moved her car. "Big Rack Smokers" (Jason, Darryl and the grandpa "the Shigger") were nice enough to help get me situated into my spot and without parking on anything. Once parked, I started getting everything setup and situated including getting the motorhome leveled or at least attempted. Sometimes all the fancy gadgets can't get the simplest of jobs done. Despite having an automatic leveling system, the RV was only level if you stood on your right foot. **Note I need to start taking pictures of these little lessons learned. I was about ready to relocate the RV into the middle of the street were is was naturally a bit more level, when "Grandpa" told me to ask one of neighboring teams "Backyard Kuisine" for leveling blocks. Thankfully he did have a set and before we knew it we were able to stand on both legs again.
After meat inspection, I do my routine of injecting meats and trimming meat that I didn't get to do in the previous day. Lesson #2, trim your chicken early in the day, if not at home to avoid being "That team" that the others use as amusement. I have never taken so much good natured ridicule for trimming, than I did that day. I finally finished up around 8pm and as far as I was concerned the ribs were going to wait until morning.
The main thing that seemed to be on about every team's mind was whether or not we were going to get the rain that had predicted. I'm pretty sure the Weather Channel would have been envious of the amount of meteorologists that were there that day, myself being one of them. Thankfully the rain held out and other than a few periods of drizzle nothing really made it's way to us.
The night went on as usual. Lots of talking, some drinking and then fires starting. Oh wait, wasn't I suppose to be resting in there somewhere. Oh well, there's always time to rest in between feeding the fire. That night sleep was hard to come by as, Leslie was unfortunately being tortured by a cough. Good thing I'm no stranger to sleepless nights.
As the morning progressed, I prepped the ribs and other than being in the meaty side, they looked fantastic. Everything seemed to cook pretty well and we ony had a couple small grease fires ( ***Note I really need to get a drain installed in the smoker).
As food started to come off of the smoker, I sampled. Pork was first to come off and was alright. Nothing that I thought was fantastic, but it never seems to. Ribs looked fantastic at each stage, if you watch the video we recorded I showed them to the camera after unfoiling them. That brings up another lesson learned, when emptying the juices from the rib foil, watch where it is going. Thank goodness for wearing pants on that day.
Chicken was the first to really get a good finished taste from and honestly I thought they were pretty decent, other than the skin not fully crisping up.
Next to get sampled were the ribs. They looked amazing, very nice mahogany color and sweet. Not candy sweey, but competition sweet. The only issue we had was trying to get straight cuts off of them. we finally settled from the ones that were cut, so we could get our entry turned before being late.
Pork got pulled, sliced and sampled. I thought the texture was right were it needed to be, but the flavor wasn't hitting it.
Brisket came out and HOLY HECK YEAH!!! It tasted just like the brisket we cooked in Evansville IN 3 weeks before. Tenderness was perfect, easy to pull apart yet could lay over a finger without separating.
We went to the awards ceremony with high hopes of at least a repeat call in the brisket category. As teams were called our's seemed to continually get forgotten about. No calls at all for us. I looked at the score sheets, expecting to see our name just out of the 10th place spots, to say I was disappointed was an under statement, until I really look at the whole picture.
Out of 36 teams here is how we did:
Chicken 35th - 131.9998 this is becoming our Achilles heel
Ribs 17th - 159.4286
Pork 19th - 158.8568
Brisket 18th - 159.4284
Overall 32nd - 609.7136
Looking at the big picture we are hitting are marks as far as placing ( we are trying to stay in the top 50% for the categories.) We had fun and we didn't finish DAL, thank goodness close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
Parkinson's Smoke Out
This weekend started off what hopes to be a very successful BBQ competition season, in Evansville, IN @ the "Parkinson's Smoke Out". As usual it seems that we learn a valuable bit of knowledge while competing.
- There are lots of things that rely on propane to operate properly in a motor-home
- If you have Google Maps, use it before you get moving.
- When backing up your motor-home, be sure that you aren't parking on another team's water hose.
- For some reason this one seems to be a re-occuring one, if you're going to have a checklist, use it.
- You can throw as much money as you want into competition cooking, but that doesn't mean the judges ae going to like it.
- Every team member is important, despite what is contributed.
- Money isn't everything.
This was a first year event and was put together in about 100 days. Robert Morphew came up with the plan to organize this competition to raise money for the Michael J. Fox foundation. What started as a small contest quickly grew to a 50 team event. The location couldn't have been any better as it was situated right next to the river and it provided a "nice breeze" throughout the event. There were some minor issues that I'm sure will be addressed by next year like availability of 30 amp service and ice. The volunteer were very willing to help fix any issues that came up the on first day, like no propane in a motor-home. The cook's meeting and award ceremony started right on time. I wish there had been a cook's dinner & breakfast of some sort. Call me a bit spoiled, but I have gotten accustomed to those perks. I should probably add that to my list of lessons learned.
After we did our routines for setting up the cook site my daughter let us know that the freezer doesn't seem to be as cold as it should be. I initially played it off as it just needed to get caught up after not having the generator running. Soon enough it was clear that that was not the problem. I started simple by making sure the propane was turned on, K.I.S.S., then started checking all of the other things that needed a propane source ( hot water, heat, stove). Yup there's the problem. I'm sure some of you are saying "Hey dummy, why didn't you check the propane level on the gauge?", Duh, because it needs replaced. Oh yeah that reminds me, I need to get that fixed. After several calls we did manage to find a local business that could fill us up, but that means tearing down our site and driving. I guess asking them to squeeze a big propane truck in between a bunch of BBQ teams was a bit too much to ask. Good thing the directions seemed pretty straight forward. Go main > 2nd st > St Joseph, then find 5105. Off we go. As we're looking for a "Co-Op" of some sort, we come up to the street that means we've gone too far. Shoot, I tell my daughter that it must be in that complex of businesses on the other side of the road, so we go up and have to drive through a neighborhood because there really isn't a safe way to turn around in a driveway without creating a major traffic incident. Once we get turned around and near the complex, I notice on the other side of the road a sign saying "blah blah co-op", but it looked like a grain company of some sort. Shoot now I have to try to turn around again. We finally get turned around and yes "blah blah co-op" IS where we are suppose to be. We finally get filled up and head back to the site. All we have to do is follow the directions in reverse. As we get close to our turn my daughter says "Dad I think we turn here", I tell her "No, that is Ohio St. not 2nd", she says "OK, but I think that's it". As soon as I get through the intersection, I realize she was right because nothing looks familiar now. Just to note, nothing was ever said about 2nd st turning into Ohio st, in the directions. Guess what I now have to do? Yup turn around, good thing I am being proficient at making it look like I was suppose to do that. We finally get back to our site and get backed in, re set up and now trying to get caught up on prep work. Right in the middle of it all, one of the teams comes over and asks if something happened to the water. Not that I know of. Turns out that the tires of a motor-home are great at stopping the flow of water through a hose when resting on top of it. Guess what? I get to detach our site again and moved 2 feet. We get his hose out and finally get set in place permanently. I start getting all of our supplies together and the box of our Original Sauce is empty, never assume something is full or loaded. Good thing we brought out Jalapeno Sauce, I just didn't want to use it on everything.
Throughout the night it seems like there were several teams that were having temperature issues with their smokers, us included. I'm sure there was even one team that spoke to his cooker using non-church vocabulary. Jeremiah Burris "Rural Route BBQ" had made mention that similar problems seem to spread to those that are near the original source. As we got through the night and into the morning things seemed to smooth out. Around 0900 I take it upon myself to host a morning lucky shot meeting, that I had the pleasure of taken part in at Danville's event last year. It is normally a tradition that is hosted by Dennis Keck of 4 Smokin' Butts, but wasn't there and I figured we could use the luck. Last time we got a call in ribs. Shots were taken by several teams and our morning routines continued. Food came off and turn-ins happened. Chicken didn't seem to really taste like what we had been playing around with at home, Ribs seemed to be either overdone or underdone ( I was not happen with their appearance, tenderness or flavor at all) and pork seemed to be OK. Nothing really stood out as being great except our brisket. Which thinking back to the Taste Of Downtown Danville competition last year I really don't think I have the energy to have another mild meltdown.
As the last turn-in was completed my wife, and teammate, told/insisted that I sit down and rest for a bit. I had a difficult time arguing with her and felt a soft surface to rest on was needed. Before I knew it she had our site torn down and nearly put away. Sometimes what seems to be an insignificant chore/duty means the world to someone else. Thank you so very much for all of the work you do. With awards starting in about a 1/2 hour we decided to go enjoy some of the great Blues music that had been playing all weekend. Promptly at 4 the announcements started. This is how we finished out of 50 teams:
Chicken: 43rd with a score of 150.2856
Ribs: 24th with a score of 160.5714
Pork: 33rd with a score of 155.4284
Brisket: 8th with a score of 168.5714
Overall: 29 with a score of 634.8568
For the first time my thoughts on our food were right on the money.
Donnie Bray of Warren Co. Pork Choppers took the GC award which got him a beautiful trophy and a check for $1500. Donnie promptly asked if the organizer would do him a favor. He asked him to give his check the the organizer's friend that was just recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. It just goes to show, it's not always about the money.
We went into this event hoping to get a call in a category, not to finish DAL and most importantly to have fun. We succeed in all areas. 3 weeks from now we'll be in Mt. Carmel at the Wabash Ribberfest. I can't wait to meet up with some newly met friends. You had better believe that morning shots will definitely be a part of the tradition from here on out. Let's see 1 shot per call = 5 shots. Ouch it may get ugly.
Thank you to all of our sponsors. You guys are really helping making this season very enjoyable:
O'Brien's Corner Tavern located @ 800 E Main, Danville, IL 61832
Downtown Danville Inc. http://downtowndanville.org/calendar.htm