For us, the barbecue season is kicking off with the Cape Cod BBQ Championship at Peter's Pond. As of this moment, there are 23 teams signed up for that contest, and I'd be surprised if it doesn't reach at least 30 teams. If you haven't signed up yet, you should do it now!
The weekend after the CCBC is the Rockin' Ribfest in Merrimack, NH. This will be the first time we've competed in barbecue contests on back-to-back weekends. Should be interesting, especially since the Merrimack contest includes both grilling and barbecue competitions. I'm exhausted, yet very excited, at the prospect.
What does all of this mean? It means I have a lot of practicing to do this month to keep up with the big boys. This past weekend was beautiful, but I had a catering job on Saturday and helped out with the barbecue judging class on Sunday. Both were very fun experiences, but also very unproductive in terms of the things I need to practice. Here is what I need to practice to be ready for prime time...
1) Chicken. As I mention in my last blog entry, I'm finally happy with the way my chicken thighs are coming out but I need to do them one more time to get my timing down. And I need to tackle the dreaded chicken wings for the grilling competition. Hopefully I can use a similar method to do those as the new and improved way I'm doing the thighs.
2) Ribs. I'm finishing in the upper half of the pack in ribs at most contests, but I want to test one new method to see if they can be improved. There are a lot of great teams out there when it comes to ribs, and I'd like to be one of them.
3) Flank steak. I've cooked a lot of flank steak in the past, so I just need to figure out what I'm doing in terms of seasonings and presentation for this. Shouldn't be too painful.
4) Pork chops. Ugh. I never cook pork chops. Not a fan. I did some research and have some things to test, but I suspect this will take up a good deal of my practice time in the coming weeks. I'll have to go buy a few gallons of applesauce to drown out the bad taste, and dryness, of the initial runs.
On the positive side, there are things I'm very happy with. Pork, brisket, and pizza are all good to go.
And all of this in the next 5 weeks. I'd better go get busy...