Thursday, April 24, 2008

Competition Chicken

Chicken seems to be a wild card category for many teams. Very hit or miss which tells me a lot of it tastes the same. I just cooked a batch on my Egg and it was really good. Better than what I cooked down in Salisbury this past weekend. Sometimes cooking casually in the backyard yields better results than all the nit-picking that I do at a big contest, I have to remember that!

Maryland Re-cap

Just now recovering from our trip down to Salisbury MD. A long drive, about 8 hrs each way. My team-mates Kenny and Jamie came along and we had a blast and thought we cooked some good food... the judges really didn't agree... full results are here. Big Congrats to Uncle Jeds BBQ, a long time friend of ours on the competition trail. I think Jed has been practicing a bit this off-season and it looks like the hard work has paid off.

Well at least the new team banner looked good...

We cooked some beef tenderloins and crabcakes for the chefs choice category and for our dinner. Matched up very nicely with the Harpoon IPA's!

Chicken turned out pretty but was a bit bland. We have no contests planned for May so expect the chicken experimentation to be the focus in the coming month. My current theory is that a lot of chicken entries are very similar. I'm going to try some new ideas that I hope will stand out in the sea of candied chicken thighs

Ribs were really good....

Friday, April 11, 2008

Salisbury, MD

I'm heading down to Salisbury MD next weekend to compete in the 'Pork in the Park' contest. So far they have 81 teams, which is a huge number of contestants for a contest up "North". Also some of the top teams in the country are competing including Cool Smoke and Smokin Triggers. I'll take some pics and post some details about the contest when I return. This weekend I plan on doing a dry run on ribs as a warm-up. Also we have a new team banner to unveil for Salisbury....

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Easter "HAM"

I'm not doing too well blogging so far, I'm going to have to find the time to keep things updated more regularly. Anyways here is some details on what I did for Easter....

I'm not a big fan of serving a store-bought ham for the holidays. I usually find them dry and not interesting. Now, an authentic country ham is a completely different story!

This year for Easter I tried something a bit different. I bought a couple of pork butts, the cut traditionally used to make pulled pork, and made 'ham'. Ham of course is made with the rear leg of the pig and the pork butt is actually the upper front shoulder. There is a lot more fat and flavor in the shoulder. In addition you can cook it a lot longer and get something super tender... in contrast if you were to over-cook a ham, instead of tender you'd get cardboard.

What I did is cooked the pork butts the way I do when preparing barbecue, except I dropped the barbecue flavors and instead applied ham flavors to the pork butts. I applied a cure for a couple hours in order to impart a hammy pinkness on the outer part of the butts. I then rubbed with brown sugar and a bit of pumpkin pie spice. I smoked the butts on my Big Green Egg overnight for about 10 hrs at 235*. Near the end of the cook I applied a ham glaze (apple cider, maple syrup, spicy mustard and bourbon). I pulled the butts off at an internal temp of 185*, cooled, refrigerated. I then sliced the cold butts about 1" thick.

Then simply when my guests arrived I gently warmed the slices, apply a bit more glaze and served. Seemed to go over very well. I think the only thing I'd change next time is the brown sugar dry rub didn't add much to the flavor profile. The ham glaze was intense. Next time I'll probably just salt and pepper the butts and skip the brown sugar rub. Couple of pics:

Finished Butts:

Sliced and glazed: