Having just recently eaten at some of the best BBQ joints in Texas the day before this comp I was somewhat excited yet a little down that my brisket would probably not compare to what I had just eaten. It's amazing what happens to a perfectly good piece of meat vs another piece of meat that wont render sometimes. It sort of makes you want to just throw it on the ground. That being said I wanted to have a great attitude about this competition as my partner Chris Canon from Midland was coming up to join me in battle in a region thought of by most as one of the hardest places to compete in and around Texas.
I set up Friday after lunch in the park right by the pavilion in the shade and waited on Chris to arrive so we could begin the process of washing the meat etc...Chris arrived shortly after 4:00. We were registered in a matter of minutes and waited for what seemed forever to have the meat inspected. We decided to leave for awhile and came back to a very clean area with our own personal trash cans by our cook-site which was something you dont hardly ever see. We began prepping the briskets and put them in the cambro to season overnight and left for the evening.
We came back Sat morning around 4:00 AM and the first thing I noticed was the water/juice mixture dripping out of the bottom of my cambro. It was still pretty cold yet these are supposed to be airtight so I spent most of the morning distracted by how this could have happened. We fired up the pit and put on the briskets around 5 AM. Our lights had burned out so we worked in the dark getting the chicken cut and prepped. This time I chose to cook with free range chickens instead of the normal already split chickens we normally cook. The ribs went on afterwords and we watched the sun come up drinking coffee and discussing barbecue.
Around 9:00 we figured they would be having a cooks meeting as discussed the night before but found no one. We walked up to a registration table after eating a breakfast burrito made by one of the vendors and found one of the directors who gave us a rule sheet and our boxes and said this will serve as you cooks meeting. Typically these meetings last anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes or even longer yet we were finished almost instantly and left scratching our heads.
Our first category for the day was chicken. We cooked and split two whole chickens and wound up going with the smaller one. We both thought it was the best we had done this year and made turn in without any problems.
Our second category for the day was ribs. We had a similar experience with our ribs like we had in Enid, OK. Good ribs up until presentation time. It's amazing how quick you can lower your own score with a bad cut but we made the best of it and covered up what we could making turn in with no problems.
Our last and final turn in of the day was brisket. We cooked two Briskets and both had refused to cooperate. Our best one was the biggest one we had on. About 15 minutes before turn in it had only reached 190 degrees. We didn't get it really where we wanted it and didn't get to rest it but it had exceptional flavor. We were right on the cutoff for turn in. The guy behind me was sent back to re-cut his Brisket. I watched closely at their table and he came back with it well past the cut off point.
For the most part this was a great cook-off up until the awards and what I saw happen at the brisket table. Colins Creek recieved calls in each category taking a 6th in Ribs, a 6th in Brisket, and a 9th in Chicken. One thing that took this from a good cook-off to a never go back cook-off was when one of the local teams took a first in every category. Typically this would never bother me except for the fact that it's supposed to be blind judging. All 10th through 2nd place calls were ticket numbers that were called yet for some reason they decided to call their name instead. How would they have any idea or know who's product that was if it was a fair contest ? Another factor that played a part in this is having local judges set up right by the turn in boxes and watching them interact with their local friends who were cooking right after they did a turn in. As much as I like having a positive attitude about barbecue how can you when each and every cook who competed gets up and screams BS and walks out during the Grand Championship only to pack up and leave almost immediately without saying their goodbye's. I think the IBCA board will be hearing about this one and it's unfortunate because not only was this their first year about 90% of the competitors came from parts all over Texas. I am not one to make accusations or have a bad attitude but it's funny how people you don't even know will pull up to your truck while packing up and encourage you to call the IBCA. I just wish Texas would join up with the rest of the world and adopt a judging system that's similar to the one that KCBS uses.