It was my first time competing in a cookoff. I’ve been to several and provided minimal help, but this was my first time being judged. It’s a humbling proposition for anyone. It’s one thing to cook for friends or family but these are strangers and their sole purpose is to be hypercritical of your offering. Truthfully, I’ve been nervous for the last couple of weeks. I know I was prepared. I’ve probably smoked more than 15 chickens so far in 2018.
My flavors were good. I was able to control my temps on my Weber Smokey Mountain and I had my timing down. I am confident in cooking a chicken. However, there’s still that little voice in the back of your mind that’s asking,
“What if they hate it? What if I finish dead last?”
Saturday morning was a bit of a whirlwind. I like to brine for two hours. Chicken doesn’t need more than an hour to brine but two hours seems to loosen up the tendons a little more for me and imparts a little more flavor. I keep my brine very simple, which is a common theme for me. Some people like using buttermilk to add some acidity. I use water. Some folks use a number of spices in their brine. I don’t. Don’t think it needs it. Once the brine is ready, I spatchcocked the chickens. I like to be rid of the back and breast bones. Makes for a cleaner presentation.
Nothing left to do but the cook. The coals are ready. I dry off the chicken, spray down with EVOO and add my rub. It’s a very simple rub. I like to start skin side down to hopefully crisp up the skin while the coals are at their hottest. I also rotate the grills 180 degrees after an hour to hopefully impart a more even cook throughout the chicken. I was a degree or two from my optimal temp as it approached the deadline, so I flashed it nearest the coals for several minutes.
We made the turn-in time with a minute or two to spare. The adrenaline was off the charts!
It looked great presentation wise. Perfect golden and reddish hues on the skin. Now, we’re waiting. And waiting. The announcement was seven hours after we turned in our chicken. When I heard we earned 5th place, I couldn’t believe it. Honestly, I thought someone was pulling my leg. Validation. The hard work had paid off.
Everyone realizes these competitions are entirely subjective. People’s taste buds differ. However, this was fun. I’m excited to do it again. I only hope I can perform as well, or fingers crossed, better than I did this time.
5th place out of 151 teams! 2 places from the money rounds!
Josh G – is one of my best friends and finally took the leap to compete! Josh wrote the above article to share his BBQ competition experiences. I loved the camaraderie and good times hanging! Thank goodness he did! Really showed that his chicken was excellante!
Keep on Q’ing