Grand Lake BBQ

Made a short journey out to Langley, OK this weekend for Grand Lake BBQ.  It was a nice short drive that landed me next to several great Oklahoma teams (Uncle BCs, Kosmos Q, Buffalos BBQ and Indian Territory Smoke) and just a few steps from some BBQ heavy-hitters (American Dream, Pellet Envy and Clark Crew BBQ).  I was almost instantly glad I had placed bigger casters on my Weber BBQ Cart.  The contest organizers placed some crushed rock over the grass for us but it was still really soft with all the rain we have gotten.  After a pretty easy setup (I feel like I am starting to get into a bit of a groove and have somewhat streamlined my process), I had a chance to chat with a few teams before the cook’s meeting.

After a little siesta, I woke up at 2 am and despite the forecast for lots of rain and strong winds during the competition, the weather was great for this spring.  I couldn’t have asked for a smoother performance from my Weber smokers and setup.  However, I have had my ribs turn out very, very, very (read almost completely black) dark at the last two contests where the humidity was high and we had a light rain.  I’m not really sure how to correct for this but will consider reducing the amount of time the ribs cook while wrapped next time it is really humid or raining.  I felt like my chicken came out of the smoker lacking some flavor and put quite a bit of EAT BBQ Zero to Hero Dust (EAT BBQ Zero to Hero Rub put thru a spice grinder until a fine powder – This stuff is BBQ GOLD) on the back of each thigh.  My ribs came out great on texture (but black as midnight at the bottom of the ocean).  Pork Shoulder has been my lowest scoring and hardest category for me and I have made so many changes in an attempt to get better scores – this was by far the best box I had ever put together (I even texted Kristi that it looked good when I turned it in).  My brisket had great texture but was completely under-seasoned as I had received comment cards that it was too salty.  On a side note, I have been putting so much focus on my pork shoulder that my brisket scores have suffered.

I have updated my BBQ Results page, but was very surprised and happy to receive two 7th place calls in Langley for Chicken and Pork Shoulder.  Congrats to American Dream for GC and Little Pig Town for RGC

Till next time…

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Bixby and Weber BBQ Cart Changes

This past weekend I made the trip to Bixby and was met by sunshine and a light breeze after a week with good amounts of rain.  Check-in was pretty smooth and I was quickly shown my spot with lots and lots of sun – my shade tree was shorter than me.  Almost immediately I was sad that my new casters for my Weber BBQ Cart had not arrived earlier in the week as my narrow, hard plastic casters sank into the soft soil.  Luckily, my BBQ neighbors helped me out and I got setup fairly quickly. 

 

Prep and cook went smoothly. Only hiccough was my Weber EZ 26 (aka Big Boy) jumping up to 300-310 while I was wrapping my ribs. A little shutdown on the guru dampers and daisy wheel and it was back to 280 before the ribs went back on. I’m loving my new BBQ Guru Wifi but wish the screen was easier to read on the Guru. 

My initial impressions were that: my chicken was fairly good; the ribs were okay but lacking a punch of flavor; pork shoulder money muscle tenderness was good for once but still lacking something in the flavor category; nailed my brisket point (it was perfectly juicy and cut great) but unforunately it was paired with slices that were a little dry. 

I was hoping for a call around 7th-10th in chicken but did not get a call on Saturday.  When the dust settled, OkieQ claimed GC and Buffalo’s BBQ RGC.  MOOCHEWSOOEY came in a close 3rd place.  Kim and Joe were some of the first people I met when I started into competition BBQ and it was great to see them get multiple calls.  Joe recently switched to an FE from Cookshack and is loving it – obviously so are the judges.  Speaking of judges – WOW – the variance between tables was quite extreme this past weekend with a few judges consistently handing out 4s and 5s (which is very bad for those who don’t know) and average scores in the mid-20s (also very bad).  I was lucky enough to avoid a few of the REALLY BAD tables but found one with a few judges with very low average scores.  Unfornutaely, I also missed the two tables that were placing teams in the top 10 in Chicken, Ribs and Pork Shoulder.  Overall, I finished at a personally disappointing 29th out of 81 teams. 

To lick my wounds, I started off the week with a favorite activity of mine, tinkering/modifying my smokers.  I got out my new casters (which arrived Friday evening while I was sinking into the dirt in Bixby), some new Weber WSM legs I ordered using my serial numbers, and a nice 2′ x 6′ piece of 1/4″ aluminum plate that I had cut to size by Council Steel in OKC.  After a couple evenings of work/effort, moving my Weber EZ 26 Guru ports to the front and a few scraped knuckles, I am pleased with the results.

  

 

I like how the new cart looks – especially the OEM WSM legs on the Weber 26. My OCD nature also likes my logo magnet in the middle. The casters roll and rotate so much better than my old ones, and they are foam filled to prevent worries about flat tires. 

On a side note, True Value stopped providing “ship to store” service for the Duraflame Hardwood Briquets I have been using and shipping costs to my home were insane. Luckily, one call to Duraflame solved my problem. Duraflame makes Stubb’s Natural Briquets – read here that these are the exact same product placed into a different bag. Since Stubb’s is available from Lowes, I will have no problem finding a bag and it is a lot closer. 

Don’t forget to check out my Schedule and Results pages for updates. Next stop is Langley, OK. 

Till next time…

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The WSM Water Pan Replacement

I know  a lot of WSM enthusiasts still go for putting water in the extremely lightweight, flimsy water pans from Weber. I’ve always preferred to run dry and have tried everything from the Piedmont pan to sand or clay saucers. The problems for me are lack of thermal mass and durabilty. The Piedmont pan is durable but lacks thermal mass and is hard to duplicate for the Weber 26 with Smoke EZ ring. The clay saucers work nice but crack every other contest (even when I put them in the car with me).

Enter Southwest Disk – the solution. I placed an order and asked them to custom bend the handles vertically for their 24″ disc. They promptly replied via email on Saturday! (How many companies do you know that do that?). With a few emails to make sure he knew what I wanted, it was at my door in 3 days. After receiving the discada and loving how solid it was, I called to see if it would be possible to have some cut to custom size to fit my WSMs. Southwest checked with the machine shop they worked with but ultimately made the cuts with a plasma cutter by hand. I think they turned out perfect and you will have to look close on the pictures to notice they were cut by hand.

If you are looking for a heat deflector for your WSM OR just want a great griddle/wok/paella pan for your large grill or Big Green Egg, be sure to check these guys out.

Till next time…

  

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Spring Break, BBQ and Good Luck

This past week was my son’s first official spring break, but since I had to work there were not any elaborate vacation plans. Instead, my wife and sons went to visit my in-laws. They had a blast but listening to them talk about it is funny. My eldest broke down at one point during the week telling my wife that he missed me – this resulted in my son having a teary eyed FaceTime chat with me. But after a week with grandma, it only took 30 seconds on the road to miss her. 

At the end of Spring Break, I rolled into  Miami, OK for a Two Day BBQ Shootout contest. It was my first time at this contest, but is on my list of don’t miss contests already. Meals provided, great KCBS reps, well organized and a rediculously talented field of competitors. Was lucky enough to be parked next to a great crew Hunka Hunka Burnin Rub. They were friendly, not too rowdy and got a call in Pork on the second day. 

Day one left me pleasantly surprised with a 3rd place finish in Chicken; which was a complete shock because I was sure it was way too spicy! The second day seemed to run a little smoother from a prep and cook standpoint but overall left me feeling underwhelmed by the product I made. I felt like my chicken wasn’t quite as neat/appealing but had an almost identical flavor profile. My ribs were not quite there on flavor or tenderness. My brisket felt spot on for cook but the flavor was lacking. And then pork shoulder (aka The Nemesis) … I don’t even know where to begin on that one. I cannot ever seem to get it quite right.  In the end, I missed the top 10 in ribs by less than 3/4 of a point.

On a side note, I have placed well both times my father-in-law has come to help me wrap, finish up cooks, make boxes and turn-in. I told him he is Good Luck and needs to come to more contests

Till next time…

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1st Contest of 2015

The first contest of the year was one for the books!

It all started with the drive down to Huntsville. If you Google a trip from Edmond, OK to Huntsville, TX, you will find an estimated drive time of 5 1/2 to 6 hours. With bad weather rolling in, Dallas was a complete nightmare to drive through; the trip from Denton to Hutchins took 6 hours. My departure time from Edmond was 0730 and we rolled into the Huntsville Fair Grounds a little after 8 pm with my entire family stuck in the car with me. Hats off to the organizers and KCBS reps that waited for Clark Crew BBQ and myself to arrive late for check-in and inspections. Kristi’s aunt and uncle met us at the fairgrounds and they all went to Houston while I got squared away. 

Other than setting up and starting my process about 5 hours late, the cook went fairly smoothly. I was very pleased with my decision to switch from Kingsford to Duraflame charcoal. It takes a little longer to light but cruised and maintained temperature much better (Not to mention it was only 34-38 degrees out while I was cooking). It did make less ash than the blue bag, but only modestly less rather than significantly less as suggested by multiple reviews. To my palate, I was pleased with my brisket and chicken but not my ribs or pork shoulder. As usual, the judges disagreed with me. 

Results (61 teams)

Chicken 22nd – 165.1428

Ribs 8th – 172.0000 (a personal best score)

Pork Shoulder 37th – 160.0116

Brisket 19th – 165.1772

Overall 19th – 662.3316

Shotgun Fred handed out some very cool ribbons


Congrats to some great Oklahoma teams: Kosmos Q RGC; Clark Crew BBQ 3rd; American Dream BBQ 6th; Buffalos BBQ 9th.

After a short night and a long day of BBQ, my wife’s aunt and uncle took me out to eat some crawfish and then went back to their house to chat over a few beers (which I admittedly started to fall asleep during).

Not to be outdone by the trip down, one of the tires on my Uhaul trailer decided to blow about an hour out from Houston.  To Uhaul’s credit, they had a guy out there with a new tire in under an hour.

I have updated the Oklahoma Jayhawk pages to include BBQ results.  Next stop is Miam-UH , OK (known to the rest of the world as Miami) for a doubleheader.

Till next time…

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BBQ Fridge Attempt #2

2015/01/img_0895.jpgLove my new BBQ Logo magnet! I also decided that, rather than posting every time I update my competition schedule, I would make a new page on my blog. Please check there if you want to follow me.

In the early weeks of January my wife decided that having a separate refrigerator in the garage was no longer a convenience but a necessity. 1st step was to clean and rearrange the garage and add a new power outlet/breaker. Next we looked around OKC for a unit that was affordable and a good size. We ended up purchasing a Frigidaire unit from Hahn.

2015/01/img_0886.jpgIt was plugged in on Thursday night and was incrementally changed over the weekend as suggested by the manufacturer. Despite having the freezer and refrigerator set to max cold, it would not maintain a temperature below 40 degrees on Monday with an ambient temperature below 60 degrees. Whether it was a lemon unit or not, I do not know, but when Hahn offered me a “garage kit” that Metro Appliance, Harry’s and Best Buy had never heard of, I decided it needed to be returned. In Hahn’s defense, they were pleasant and easy to work with; plus they had our credit return filed within 48 hours.

Lesson learned that, yet again, “you get what you pay for.” Having no problems with our Kenmore chest freezer unit, I decided to spend $200 more and get an all-refrigerator Kenmore unit.

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It was delivered today and is already hanging steady at 38 degrees. Now it just needs some meat!

Till next time…

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Revamped Schedule

A little change of venues for the season
schedule

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