Here is my Merrimack Rock ‘N Ribfest recap…
Who says you can’t bake a pizza in a Weber Smokey Mountain? I was really confident in our pizza after having practiced it at home several times to get the right formula. Suzanne and I split the duties on this one…it was really a team effort. I’d do two small things differently next time, which I think may garner an even higher score. I’m sure pizza will come up at future grilling competitions, and we will be ready. Congratulations to my friends on the team Boneyard Smokers, who got an amazing 170+ score for their first place pizza!
I’m scratching my head a bit with the flank steak. I thought it came out pretty good. Maybe cooked a tad more than I wanted, but still very tasty and juicy. Judging by the score sheet, I’m sure there were some good flank steak entries turned in. My hat is off to all of the great steak cookers out there!
Nothing surprising here. This is my typical, bad score for chicken wings. After talking to some judges and seeing some pictures of winning chicken wings, I’ve got some great new ideas and can’t wait to practice.
Once we were able to fit all of the pork chops in the turn in box, I was pretty happy with our entry. I would have liked to have seen us in the top 10 in this category, but we just missed it. Still, not bad for someone who can count on one hand the number of times he’s cooked pork chops.
I’d say we deserved to be in the middle of the pack, so I really can’t complain much. While I had higher hopes for the flank steak, I was still happy to get a call in one of the categories. It continued our streak of getting at least one call in every competition with the exception of our first competition a couple years ago.
I used the exact same process that I used for 8th place at Peter’s Pond the previous week. We basically got dead ass last, because the only teams I beat were disqualified. I’ve been talking to some people, and I have some new ideas for chicken. My goal is to get a call in chicken at one of our last two contests of the year. It’s the only category where we remain call-less.
This was our first ever call in ribs. I cooked them a bit differently than normal, and it seemed to pay off. I was really happy with the way they came out. Two of the four racks were especially nice and meaty. The other two weren’t as meaty and were overcooked. So the six ribs I turned in were from the two good racks…three ribs from each. The tenderness was perfect this time, which is usually not the case with my ribs.
Ugh. After doing so well in pork last year, I’ve been stinking up the place lately. We need to do some analyzing and see what needs to be done to fix the issue.
I used the same process as my first place finish at Peter’s Pond, but the brisket wasn’t quite a nice at the one I had at PP. It was still good, but not great. I have no complaints with 8th place brisket at this contest. Brisket is the new pork for me. I probably just cursed myself.
I’m definitely not happy with finishing in the bottom half of the pack. I’m not saying that I deserve better, but I know I can do better. More chicken and pork practice is in my immediate future. And the “at least one call per contest” streak remains intact.
I had a couple of issues with this contest that would make me pause before entering it again:
1) The turn-in boxes were 7X7 at the bottom and 8X8 at the top, which is significantly smaller than the normal turn-in boxes. They were also quite a bit shorter in height that typical turn-in boxes. I’ve seen pictures of people having to tuck one rib under the others to make them all fit. Yikes. I’ve heard every excuse ranging from the organizer not being able to find the right size boxes to the organizer wanting to save a few bucks by purchasing the smaller size. Neither of which are acceptable excuses, as far as I’m concerned.
2) Communication by the contest organizer left something to be desired. There were two versions of the cook’s packet. I followed the original packet, which was the one the organizer originally emailed to everyone and it was also the one posted on the Ribfest web site up until 3 days prior to the contest. When I started complaining about the rules the organizer sent via email less than a week before the contest, namely no pets allowed at the event, the packet posted on the web site magically changed...with the no pets ruled bolded and with typos to boot. The organizer continues to deny the existence of two cook’s packets, but I have a hard copy of the original cook’s packet and the revised one. I respect that Bud doesn’t want pets on their grounds. I have absolutely no problem with that. But I don’t respect the fact that the organizer did such a poor job of communicating this fact. If I had known that, I would have made other plans rather than having my parents, who traveled over 1,000 miles to be at the contest with me, sitting 30 minutes away at an RV park with their dog while I was competing.
Onward and upward. It’s looking like Mainely Grillin’ and Chillin’ in August is the next competition for us and then we will round out the season with the Harvard Fall Festival in September. I wish we had the time and funds to do more contests, but I think I’m already pushing it with the handful we have planned this year. Suzanne and I will both be judging at Harpoon, which is always a fun contest. It will be Suzanne’s first time judging, so that will be particularly interesting!