Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Holland Summerfest – New Holland, PA

August 26th, around 9:30am, on I-76 heading towards New Holland, PA and I couldn't get her out of my mind. The Summerfest competition is a PA State Championship and one of the best organized events of the year. I should be thinking about cooking times and meat presentation but I couldn't get her out of my head, knowing she will be there soon. I tried preparing early for her but there was only so much I could do to get ready. Irene is off the coast of Florida and expected to make landfall on the 27th somewhere in North Carolina then continue screaming right up the east coast.

You would never know there was a category 3 hurricane closing in by the weather Friday morning as we set up camp, the sun even poked out a few times. Around 11pm that night, as I was putting our brisket on the smoker, the wind started picking up slightly - a reminder of what was only 24hrs., or so, away.

At 5am Saturday, the ribs hit the smoker and chicken took a swim in some brine and it started to look like rain.

The chicken started cooking around 9am, the wind was also starting to pick up.

The rain did hold off long enough for us to get all of our meats turned in to the judges, but by the time the award ceremony began it started getting nasty! They rushed giving out the awards so teams could get out of there before it really got bad... some teams did not wait around for the awards at all!
Chicken was dead ass last, 67th.
Ribs finished in 4th place, some of the best ribs I have made at a competition!

The pork landed at 23rd, I thought it should have scored a bit higher.

This was the first time I ever injected brisket, till now I have been a purist when it comes to the large meats.
Brisket took 6th place!
We ended up finishing 16th overall out of 67 teams. The biggest challenge was heading home to Philly in that blinding rain, with Irene racing to meet us there! We made it home safe and I didn't even get that much water in my basement... nice try Irene!
Oh - and special thanks to my good luck charm that showed up at the event, the real reason all ended up well!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

BBQ and Blues in the Park - Mount Holly, NJ

What began as a joke started looking like a curse by our 5th competition in a row with rain and wind. On July 29th we headed to Mount Holly, NJ to BBQ and Blues in the Park, this was our 7th competition of the year with the same gloomy forecast... RAIN! And boy did it rain - the hardest downpour of the season and some of the heaviest winds we had to endure. At one point as we hung from our ez-ups, being blinded by the rain, I didn't think we would make it through damage free. Luckily we did, but not all the teams were unscathed. The rain passed late Friday afternoon giving us time to clean up and get ready for the contest ahead.

The sun did come out Saturday morning and made for a nice day. I feel we handed in some good BBQ and we finished 15th overall out of 45 teams. The chicken ended up 44th... second from last! Same recipe that finished 3rd in Wildwood, NJ. The ribs were an outstanding 2nd place! Pork slid in at 24th and brisket, which I thought was awesome, landed 13th.

When I saw these guys coming around corner, I knew it was going to be a great day in Mount Holly!

Big Craig and little Craig

Marie and her mom

I love this BBQ thing!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Stephen Starr-Garry Maddox Barbecue Challenge 2011

"The annual Stephen Starr-Garry Maddox Barbecue Challenge, presented by Hatfield Quality Meats and KRAFT Barbecue Sauce, returns to Citizens Bank Park on August 13, 2011. Now in its tenth year, the charity fundraiser features restaurant teams and pit master teams cooking off for a good cause. All proceeds from the Challenge support the Youth Golf and Academics Program (YGAP), a non-profit organization founded by Garry Maddox to provide academic support and enrichment services to children who reside in troubled city neighborhoods. Since 2001, the event has raised over $450,000 for charity."

If you followed my blogs you may know that this is the event that started my incurable addiction into competitive BBQ. In 2005, at the request of my friend Steve Tallant and the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame, I cooked at this event. It was the first time cooking BBQ ribs at a competition and we finished 5th out of 45 teams. Since that day this has been my most anticipated contest of the year! In 2009 I finished 1st in the pit master division and 1st over-all in the Garry's rib challenge making this event a part of me forever!

I've been waiting for this competition since the beginning of BBQ season and it did not disappoint! Lots of great people came out to party and support us. Also some great beer - thanks Craig! I cooked up some great food for the folks hanging out with us which included some nice lamb ribs...

And beef ribs...

And whole pork belly...

Rain and some heavy wind blew through because... you know, that's what happens when I cook at a competition! It didn't last too long and there were plenty of "tent holders" available to keep my canopies from flying away.

I entered the chicken category this year to try a new recipe that I may use in my next KCBS competition.

Anyone one who knows me, knows I hate BBQ chicken so I ended up not putting too much effort into cooking it and I still thought they came out ok. They finished 39 out of 45 pit masters.

Now for the reason we came here... RIBS!

The pit master division ribs were not quite where I wanted them at turn in time, a little tough. The flavors were right on. They finished 15th out of 45 teams.

Now the "Garry's Challenge" ribs had an extra 30 min. on the smoker and I thought they were close to perfect! They finished 7th out of 62 teams, which included the restaurant division.

No World Series tickets for the good guys this year but not a bad overall finish. This is my most anticipated competition of the year - always surrounded by good friends having a great time enjoying this worthwhile charity event... and it never disappoints! Every year I come away form this event with great memories and this year one may just be life changing. Hey Garry - see ya in 2012!