Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Smoke in the Valley - Green Lane, PA

This is one of my top anticipated competitions of the year, and not just because it's only 45min. from home. It's expertly run by the Green Lane Fire Dept. and organized by Shawn Tucker. They cater to every need of the competitor. Plenty of water and electric hookups. The staff pick up trash, grey water and ashes from the team sites and ice is always available. Hey - the sun even came out for a couple hours! The rain held off till the morning, allowing the Fire Dept. to ignite their annual bonfire and it's a site to see!

Besides the regular KCBS categories, Smoke in the Valley was one of the 9 events to host the Rancher's Reserve Beef Cup. The cut of beef to be cooked was top sirloin and it needed to be purchased at a Safeway store and receipts turned in as proof of purchase. This was a bit of a hassle for the teams and I think it could have been planned better. Only half the teams entered in the KCBS competition participated in the Rancher's Reserve. I can't see why "Rancher's Reserve" couldn't have delivered meats to the event. Shawn Tucker came to the rescue and picked up meats for the competitors who were unable to get to a designated store and delivered them to the teams, my man knows how to run an event! I picked up my top sirloin at a Genuardi's close to my house and came up with a recipe to wow the judges.

The Plan:

Take the top sirloin steak and grind it down with some fatty trimmings from the brisket along with garlic, sage and other spices. Form the ground meat into about 2 inch sausages and insert corn dog sticks. Throw them in the smoker  for 2 1/2 to 3 hours and cool. Dip into jalapeno corn batter and fry. Finish with a grape jelly and wasabi glaze.
Reality. I had that mix of sirloin and brisket cut into nice cubes, laced with chopped garlic and sage, topped with some nice spices to kick it up. When it came time to grind the meat I clamped my old fashion meat grinder to the shelf on my smoker and started adding the meat. Turning the handle... turning the handle... turning the handle... no ground meat - my grinder was missing the cutting blade. So much for the plan, I was ready to sh!tcan the whole idea. But of course, as usual, Marie stepped in to save the day. She hand minced the cubed meat (which was not a small task) so we could form then into little fatties on a stick... the game was back on!

They hit the smoker for 2 1/2 hours. When cooled they were corn battered and deep fried. I finished them off with a grape jelly and wasabi glaze. Here is our presentation...

I was very happy with the way they turned out, though using a grinder would have blended the ingredients much better. The jalapeno corn batter was rock'n - I will be making some version of these again!
                    - Batter recipe at the end of blog! -

As far as the KCBS meats go, it was another disappointing finish. Only one top 10 finish, 8th place pulled pork out of 54 teams.

I really liked how our chicken turned out, but it
finished a sad 30th.

Ribs could have been a bit more tender, but flavor
was right on. They finished 29th.

Our 8th place pork!

I flat out destroyed the brisket. It looked nice but
believe me, it was tough. Finished 51st.

Overall, this is definitely one of the best organized BBQ events I have competed in. I look forward to it every year! It's not just a competition - It's one big back yard party!

Jalapeno corn batter
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup AP flour
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 large jalapeno
1/3 cup onion grated
8.5 ounce can cream corn
1 1/2 cup butter milk
drizzle of honey

Next up  -  Roc City Rib Fest - Rochester, NY   -   May 28 - 29 



  1. Is that the norm now for the size of pieces of pulled pork? Did you get a result on the Ranchers Reserve contest? They looked really good.

  2. Because of the lack of a grinder they scored low but were still very tasty!

  3. Nice article! I agree Shawn runs a 1st class operation. I'm sorry we did not hang out at all at this event. (maybe we did, I was drinking tequila.)

    Did you do dessert or chef's choice? I was a little disappointed that they only announced 1st place for those events. (We had our 14yo ringer with us that landed a 2nd in Chef's Choice. She usually rocks in dessert also.)

    What were your results in RR? Looks good to me. Nice job. I was not happy with our entry. I predicted 17. We finished 15.

    I like that your chicken looks like chicken. You actually beat us here so don't be too disappointed. :) However, we were extremely disappointed in this comp after our 6th place finish in Seaside and 2nd in So York with the same recipe. We changed our chicken cooker this season though. practice, practice, practice I guess.

    I like how full your rib box is. Looks very inviting. We cooked 4 racks but were only happy with half a rack. We only managed 6 ribs in the box. I would have liked 8 or 10 at least. Happy with a 6th place finish though. Only put in the box what you want them to actually eat. :)

    Your pork looks great. Congrats on the 8th place finish. The flavor must have been fantastic. I'm surprised you didn't have any slices or bark pieces here. We finished 13 and were disappointed after a 3rd place in Seaside.

    Love the smoke ring on the brisket. Do you inject? We tried a new injection which I think came out too salty. Our texture was like butter. Our neighbors brisket was much tougher than ours but they finished higher than our 17. After swapping pieces they thought we would destroy them in the standings (so did I, honestly)

    All in all, a great time. Will we see you in Wildwood?

  4. @ TheJackal

    I was happy with those ribs... Doing a practice this weekend before Roc City Ribfest, need to bring those scores up.

    I do not inject the brisket or pork.

    We will be in wildwood! I'll be sure to stop and say hello.

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