Sunday, September 18, 2011

2011 BBQ Season Recap

Pigheaded BBQ had it's best year ever in 2011. It looks like the teamwork and practice is starting to pay off. Although we ended the season on a low note at the
3rd Annual Southern York County BBQ Cook Off in Shrewsbury, we still had a very good year. Yes it's tough to end the season like we did, but we have only higher hopes for next year. In Shrewsbury, we placed 2nd in Chef's Choice, 8th in Sausage, 6th in Chicken. 26th in Ribs, 21st in Pork and 19th in Brisket for a dismal 21st overall. Oh well, enough dwelling on the bad.

We started out the season in Salusbury, MD, then cooked Middletown,DE - Wildwood,NJ- Gap,PA-New Holland,PA and Shrewsbury,PA. We had originally signed up for the Sam's Club event in Chesapeake, VA, then decided to do the event at Harrah's Casino in Chester, PA. Well, once we pulled out of Chesapeake and registered for Chester, the competition was cancelled. Our place had been taken in Chesapeake so we missed out on that one. Not one of our best decisions.

I think the team worked together very well as a unit and had a good time. Family is what this team is about and everyone seems to enjoy themselves at the competitions. Along with family, the good friends that support us and attend the events as well make the whole experience more enjoyable. We have made some good friends on the circuit as well and it's always good to see them and when we have a chance, find out what's new in their lives. I don't think there is a finer group of people competing against and willing to help each other out as the BBQ teams we've met.

You can bet that a lot of practicing will be going on over the off season, and who knows, maybe even a class will be taken. We are already looking forward to Salisbury, April 2012.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

New Holland Summerfest 2011

We had a great time at New Holland Summerfest again in spite of Hurricane Irene and the dire weather forecast.
Irene was lady enough to hold off her approach until after the awards ceremony. Five teams decided to sit this one out due to the weather so instead of the usual 72 teams, only 67 teams were on hand. Norma and I arrived early Friday morning and put up the new 10 x 20 canopy and were followed by Brian, Stephanie, Bertie and Pat, then Mike and Trina and Michael & Maddie. Ron v2.0 was unable to make this one due to other commitments. Friday was actually very nice weather wise and the usual site and food preparations proceeded smoothly. For those of you familiar with this competition, you know that there are three distinct sections to the park. Once you’ve competed at New Holland, you usually get the same spot year after year. Our site is located in the Far West section. This section is the furthest from the judges and turn in location, but generally have larger sites. We are very fortunate to have this location. We have great neighbors on either side with nobody in back or front of us, so we have room to spread out somewhat.

After setting up the site and having our meats inspected, we started our meat prep and this is where our routine
set in and we go about our business in a somewhat orderly fashion. Our only hiccup was the sausage. We mix and grind our own, but for some reason the hand grinder we use wouldn’t fasten to the table firmly. This made for some pretty comical actions and we had to adapt on the fly and change our plans. We made sausage balls instead of sausage links, but we thought they turned out very good. I have to hand it to Brian for his recipe and
enthusiasm for this category. He was up to at least 3:00AM putting the finishing touches on it. The cooks on the other meats went smoothly and our turn ins were on time. Immediately after the last turn in, we started breaking down the site because we wanted to leave as soon as possible due to the approaching storm. Some of the teams decided not to stay for the award ceremony. We had mixed emotions because we heard they might close the bridges over the C & D Canal which we had to cross to get home. Mike & Trina decided to not take the chance and headed out before the awards to be our scouts.

We thought our cook went well and hoped for some good results. Well we did get some good and some not so good finishes. We placed 14th in sausage, our first entry and 9th in Chef’s Choice. The four meats were next and we waited. Chicken brought us a 5th place with a plaque and check. A 1st place in Ribs shocked me and I was in a bit of a daze while receiving the trophy and check. Pork and Brisket didn’t fare well with a 33rd and 41st place respectively. We did finish 8th overall which made us very happy. Any top 10 finish with the level of competitors that were there made us very happy.

I would like to thank the friends and family that braved the weather predictions and visited us. This is one of the reasons we do this activity. The ride home was a little stressful due to the storm, but made easier with the finish we had. We were relieved to see the bridge still open and ran into the house after removing the cold items and a few other essentials and left the rest ‘till the next day. Clean up and restocking of the trailer took longer than normal because of the high winds and we took two days to complete it. Next up is Shrewsbury, PA in 2 weeks. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

3rd Annual Victory BrewBQ at Twin Brook Winery

On Saturday Aug 6th, a condensed version of Pigheaded BBQ once again competed at the Victory BrewBQ at the Twin Brook Winery at Gap, PA. This is a Mid Atlantic BBQ sanctioned event and is the 3rd annual BrewBQ and there was a slight venue change. Instead of being located on one of the rear fields, the teams were situated on the front of the winery. The sites were along a tree line, just in front of the vineyard. Also competing there was 340Q which consisted of Mose & Annie Zook, good friends of ours from the Middletown Farmers Market. This was their first competition as cooks and not organizers, as they usually are at the Middletown BBQ Cook Off. There were a total of fourteen teams this year, down a little from last year. The weather called for a nice day with rain moving in late in the afternoon and the weatherman delivered as the rain held off ‘till we were pulling out of the Twin Brook Winery’s driveway after the event was over.
The cook sites were smaller this year due to the change in venue and we had requested a larger spot. We arrived early and were able to get the far end site, allowing us to spread out a bit. Ron, Brian, Stephanie, Norma and Bertie were in attendance as this was a small one day cook. Chicken and ribs were the only two categories. I had been working on a new rib recipe and was anxious to see how it would work out. We set up our site and as soon as the meat was inspected, the chicken was rubbed and set aside to chill and the prep work on the ribs was started. All was ready and we then had a little time to relax and visit some of the other teams. Mose and Annie looked relaxed and confident and everyone was in various stages of prep work. We saw some familiar teams and a few first time teams as well. It’s always nice to meet new teams and make new friends.
The cook went pretty much as expected, but the ribs were not quite as well done as we would prefer, so out of six racks cooked, only one was suitable for turn in as far as we were concerned. Keep in mind that competition ribs are not supposed to be falling off the bone as that’s considered overdone. That being said, ours were underdone in our opinion and could have used a little more time on the pit. We didn’t have high expectations for the ribs, but the chicken was done to our satisfaction and we’ve been doing pretty well with that category lately.
Off we went to the awards ceremony with mixed feelings and waited to hear if out name would be called. The first category called was chicken and Pigheaded BBQ was called for 4th place, a little disappointing, but not too bad. We had won this category the last two years and kind of expected to do a little better. Just goes to show why they call it a competition. We were happy with our chicken so that’s all you can ask for I guess. Ribs were next and once again, Pigheaded was called for 4th place. This was better than we thought we would do considering we weren’t happy with our turn in, so it all evens out in the end. For the overall, Pigheaded was called yet again for 4th place. Well, we were consistent if nothing. Our friend from RA McCoy Welding was 1st in chicken and the overall winner and we were very happy for him, as this was his first win I believe. The 1st place rib winner was Son of a Beach Junior. The younger members of the team cooked this competition and did a fantastic job. Well done!!
We had a great time and plan on being back next year. Congrats to Mose & Annie for their 7th place chicken, 8th place ribs and 8th place overall.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

2011 NJBBQ Championship (Wildwood)

Pigheaded BBQ competed at the New Jersey BBQ Championship this past weekend, July 8-10.
This is always a family favorite because it’s a three day competition and we generally get a couple of hotel rooms and stay an extra night, giving everyone a little holiday. Friday was a nice sunny day and Norma started on her dessert category but as night fell so did the rain. It was a heavy drenching rain and I saw at least 2 canopies end up in the dumpster. That’s never a good thing and thankfully our new 10x20 canopy survived and held up very well giving not only our team some shelter, but a few neighboring team members as well. During the rain, the cook’s meeting was held and the Iron Chef ingredient was divulged and passed out. This year’s ingredient was a whole frozen turkey in the 11-12 pound range. I called for some helping hands and a family friend, Bill Kerns arrived to carry back the turkey while I brought back the turn in boxes, containers, cups and ID necklaces. As I stepped out of the firehouse, I saw a river flowing in the street that ran the whole 4 blocks back to the competition site. There was no getting around the deep puddles, so we just muddled through them. There was no keeping the boxes or anything else dry, so I had to wipe them all off once I got back to our site. The rain only lasted a couple of hours and the rest of the night was very nice weather wise. We tossed around a few ideas for the Iron Chef category, some of them being Thanksgiving fatties, turkey poppers, turkey tacos and a few others. Ron v2.0 & Brian who would be cooking the category promised to kick around more ideas during the night. We settled in for the night, knowing the next two days would be long ones.

Saturday was a gorgeous weather day and we were ready to get cooking. Norma finished her dessert, Mike and I experimented with a new sauce and v2.0 and Brian started on their turkey & sausage sliders with cranberry BBQ sauce. They trimmed the turkey, and used some of my rib trimmings and some breakfast sausage and ground the turkey meat. The cook and the turn ins went smoothly and prep work for Sunday’s cook got underway. After the prep work, a little socializing and resting was called for and we wiled away the rest of Saturday. As midnight approached, we shifted into gear and started putting on the big meats. Everything went according to plan and we settled in for another night at the site.

Sunday was another beautiful day and we went about the usual chores of getting ribs and chicken ready to go on the smoker. We were pleased with the results of the cook and our turn in boxes and could only wait ‘till the awards ceremony to find out who we did. We started cleaning up and did some packing up then headed down to the stage to hear the results. We didn’t hear our name in the ancillary categories (Iron Chef, Dessert & Sauce) and hoped the rest of the awards wouldn’t follow suit. Chicken was the first of the BBQ meats and Pigheaded BBQ was called for 2nd place. That was very nice and we received a nice plaque for that. Ribs, Pork and Brisket came and went and we didn’t hear our name called for any of them. We were a little disappointed and they only called the top two for overall. When we got our score sheet we saw that Pigheaded BBQ finished 7th overall out of 66 teams. That was an improvement over our 10th place finish last year and we were happy with that. Our finishes are as follows:

Iron Chef -32nd, Dessert – 18th, Sauce-44th, Chicken-2nd, Ribs-11th, Pork- 42nd, Brisket-21st. 7th Overall.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 BBQ season underway

First order of business is to apologize for the lapse of posts. OK, enough of that, now onto the current BBQ season. This past weekend, Pigheaded BBQ competed in our second competition of the season.

On April 15-16th we were in Salisbury, MD for Pork in the Park. This contest traditionally kicks off the season for many in the Mid Atlantic area and despite the gloomy weather forecast 116 teams signed up to compete here. I would like to say that we started off with a bang, but alas it was not to be. While we certainly did better than last year, we still finished a lowly 62nd out of 116 teams. We did have a strong showing in Dessert (11th) and Chicken (18th), we weren't so strong in Ribs (79th), Pork (60th) or Brisket (75th). We certainly hoped it was the long hiatus over winter. While not happy with the results, we weren't totally discouraged like we were last year. One good thing that happened, or rather didn't happen was the horrific rain and winds that were predicted. While we did have some sprinkles and some wind, Mother Nature was kind enough to hold off the main event 'till after the awards ceremony , giving us a chance to get out of Dodge while the getting was good.

Next on the calendar was Middletown, DE which most of you know is our hometown. On Thursday, May 19th we found out that the Dover, DE competition had been canceled making Middletown the only Delaware State Championship this year. So what's the big deal you may be wondering, well that makes Middletown an automatic qualifier for the Jack Daniels World Championship for the winner. This is a big deal in the BBQ world and the stakes were just raised.

We were psyched, not only because this was our home turf but also the added incentive of the possibility of qualifying for The Jack. The weather forecast was also spotty for the two days and we hoped for the best. We did get rain on Friday, but Saturday turned out to be a great weather day.
Our cook started off on Friday with the Chef’s Choice category which my son Ron v2.0 prepared. It was a mini tower of goodness featuring tomato, onion, avocado and lump crab meat. It was a work of art and tasted just as good as it looked. Next was the dessert category, which my wife Norma cooked. This was a little stressful for her as it was open to anyone, not just the BBQ competitors. Bakers, culinary students or anyone who like to do desserts were allowed to enter, cooked on or offsite including professional kitchens.

Saturday was all about the meat with the four usual categories: Chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. We felt the chicken was on point, the ribs we turned in were the first baby back we ever submitted in a competition, the pork turned out very good and the brisket was not up to our standards. Now we had to wait to see if the judges agreed. We arrived at the awards ceremony and had just settled in when we were informed that there had been an incident at our site. I went back and found out that some trash bags at the site next to ours had caught fire and were very close to our truck. Some fast acting neighbors sprang into action and using our fire extinguisher and water buckets put out the fire with the help of my son-in-laws mother who had stayed back at the site. No damage was done and I went back to the awards ceremony.

The first category called was Chef’s Choice and we didn’t hear our name called but found out we placed 7th. Next up was Dessert and the 1st place winner was Pigheaded BBQ. Norma was so excited I had to help her up to accept the award. I got the trophy and she got the check. Oh well, she’s not the CFO for nothing. Next category was chicken and 1st place winner was……Pigheaded BBQ. What a great start, another trophy and another check for the CFO. Ribs were called next and we didn’t hear our name called. Oh well, we were still off to a great start. The pork category was next and Pigheaded BBQ was called again, this time for 4th place. Great job Mike, you nailed it. The last category was brisket and we were pretty nervous because we felt if we didn’t tank ribs and we got a call in brisket, we had a chance for the Best of Delaware award. We didn’t hear our name called in brisket and found out that we finished a lowly 38th in brisket. While we didn’t get Best of Delaware, our good friends Slower Lower did and we were very happy for them. All in all it was a very good weekend for Pigheaded BBQ. Another great event organized by Mose Zook, Ben Riehl and crew and another chance to work as a family unit and see our BBQ friends. Next stop, Wildwood, NJ July 8-10. Hope to see you there.