Thursday, January 29, 2009

Butcher BBQ: New Sponsor for '09

With the start of the 2009 competition season here in the Midwest just a few weeks away, we are proud to welcome a new sponsor on board for the Dodge County Smokers BBQ Team. We will join a select assembly of competition teams supported by Butcher BBQ of Chandler, OK.

David Bouska is the head cook of the Butcher BBQ Team. He also owns and operates David’s Processing, a small meat processing plant in Central Oklahoma, so it goes with out saying that this guy knows his stuff. More than 25 years of working in meat markets and plants gave David the know-how to produce some very good products. And we’re not talking about rubs and sauces here…these are specific marinade and injection blends that really do make a difference if producing flavorful, juicy, tender beef and pork.

Actually, using Butcher BBQ products will be nothing new for us. We started using David’s brisket marinade not long after it was introduced and added the pork injection a few months after that. It was part of our arsenal for the entire 2008 season and we are looking forward to upholding the high standards set by Butcher BBQ.

I am a real believer in this stuff. Case in point: In 2007 brisket was our worst category. In 2008 (after we started using Butcher) it was our best, helping us snag 7 Top 5 finishes. And our pork was equally impressive, helping us win 2nd place in whole hog, 3rd in shoulder and 4th overall at the World Pork Expo’s BBQLossal. For even more winning examples, including David’s first place pork entry at last year’s Jack Daniel’s Invitational, visit the Butcher BBQ Winners Circle.

Competition and backyard cooks alike can benefit from checking out the brisket and pork marinades from Butcher BBQ. Check out the website:

Winter Ribs on the Weber

This weekend is my son Jack’s 2nd birthday, which this year, happens to coincide with my cousin’s wedding. So this weekend we’ll be heading north for a short drive to Nebraska. We’ll take in the wedding on Saturday and have a birthday dinner and some cake on Super Bowl Sunday with Jack’s Nana and Papa along with my brother and sisters and their collective families.

In preparation for this fine family feast I decided to burn some ribs. Only one problem…it will take at least 6 racks of spares to feed everyone and my big cooker is up at my Dad’s shop getting some off season work done (we’ll be pulling it back home on Sunday). My only means of cooking these ribs will be on my standard Weber grill. And I decided early on that I am NOT doing this twice. It will be all 6 racks at once or we’ll just settle for something else.

I never use those vertical rib racks…unless I’m squeezing 6 racks of spares into a space that should hold about 2. But I knew I had a few of things around somewhere…

Now I find that my wife doesn’t complain (as much) about all of my BBQ stuff if I keep it spread out. Kind of like a kid who tries to make it seem like he has eaten more off of his dinner plate by knocking down that pile of peas and hiding some of those carrots under a mangled piece of pot roast. So I have a stash of stuff in the garage, another in the basement and some stuff under the deck in the back yard…oh and some other stuff in the shed out back. The true beauty of my plan is that you can’t see one pile of stuff from any other pile. So when she asks, I just tell her “Oh yeah…that’s the stuff from the garage. I brought it out back yesterday.” It all looks the same to her.

Back to the subject at hand: rib racks. I checked the garage and couldn’t find them there. Out back in the shed? Nope. In the basement? Bingo!

Now I’m ready to cook. I trimmed the spares down just a little and seasoned them with some of The Slabs "Perk Up Your Pork" rub. It was about 15 degrees out and snowing (albeit lightly) when I started cooking on Tuesday morning. But I knew the Weber would hold the heat fine. I threw one chunk of hickory and one cherry on the coals and dropped the lid. It took a little negotiating to get the lid on tight with the ribs sticking up, but it all worked out.

With such a big load I knew it would take a little longer than usual to get everything done so I planned for 4 hours before I would wrap them in foil. The Weber cruised between 250 and 300 the whole time. I wasn’t too concerned about the temp swings or the fire getting too hot. I never really worry about that when I cook at home. About 2 hours in, I flipped the ribs over and rotated their positions in the rack to make sure they cooked as evenly as they could.

A couple hours later I wrapped them in foil and stacked them up in a pan to. They turned out pretty good. Since we aren’t eating them until Sunday, I vacuum sealed them and put them in the freezer and I’ll reheat them in Mom’s oven. I made some mac & cheese and a roasted red potato salad with smoked bacon for sides. It should be a good Super Bowl meal…except we’ll be on the road back home by kick-off.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Finally, a 2008 Wrap Up...

It’s been awhile since I have logged a post here, and I figured as Chris and I put together our 2009 competition schedule, that I better at least put a little effort into a wrap up of 2008. So here it is…

We had a great year. In fact, I am not sure that we can do much better! We had a lot pretty cool moments in 2008. Competing in the Butt to Butt Invitational in Shannon, IL (and finishing 3rd) was awesome. Then turning around and winning a Reserve Grand Championship in the KCBS contest the next day was just a great feeling. Being awarded 5th place in Pork at the American Royal Invitational was pretty cool and winning a Reserve Grand in Fairbury with our friends finishing at the top with us was a lot of fun too.

But the highlight of the year had to be our two Grand Championships. First I have to explain that I live in Mission, KS and Chris lives just south of Lansing, KS (even though his address says Leavenworth). So Mission and Lansing are our two “home town” contests. So what are the odds of us winning those two events? Probably pretty slim, but we did just that. It’s pretty cool to open up the paper in your town and see a picture of yourself with the grand champion trophy. It one thing to see that stuff in publications and websites dedicated to BBQ, but when your neighbors and coworkers see it and say “congrats,” well, that's pretty cool. Organizers and contest officials seem to really like the fact that a team from their town won their contest as well. We’d have to agree.

Also I would like to touch on some of our overall accomplishments for the year. In 2008 the Dodge County Smokers BBQ Team finished in 37th place out of more than 4,000 BBQ competitors who took part in KCBS contests (full results here). In our individual categories, our worst was chicken at 149th place (I happening to be cooking some practice chicken as I type this entry…hmmmm). Ribs seem to have been our most consistent entry since the very beginning and we did well there again, finishing 40th. Brisket was out worst category in 2007. In fact, we only won one ribbon in brisket all year and that was 9th place finish in a 20 team contest. We were able to turn that around (with some help from our friends) and it was actually our best meat last year, finishing 32nd.

We also finished 84th in Pork, but our two biggest Pork wins didn’t even count toward the final points standings. The first one was a 3rd place win at the World Pork Expo’s BBQLossal contest. We teamed up with our buddies from Pork Me Purple to form the Dodge County Purple Porkers, so the points from that win went to that team name. Our 5th place win in the Royal Invite does not count either, as it was not a contest that any team could enter – you had to be invited to compete, therefore making those point exempt from the total count. If those two wins would have counted, it would have put us somewhere in the top 30.

But I digest…these are just numbers and although it’s fun to take a look at websites that track this stuff, what really matters happens at the contests themselves. We performed much better than I thought we would in 2008 and we’ll hope to keep it up ‘09.