13 Nov Adventures in Competition BBQ
For the past several weeks, I have been traveling through Tennessee in hot pursuit one of my passions: BBQ!
It started last year, when I met Team South Africa, a group from my home country (South Africa) that comes all the way to the U.S. to BBQ against the best of them. This year, I once again met up with these talented chefs at the Mid-South BBQ festival, which they like to use as a test run before competing in the internationally famous Jack Daniels Invitational the week after. This time, I came a little more prepared and a little more knowledgeable on competition BBQ.
There is so much prep that goes into competition BBQ- it’s truly a labor of love, if you will. No matter whether you’re cooking chicken, ribs, pulled pork, or brisket, the road to great BBQ starts by trimming excess fat off of the meat. Then come injections of sauces and brines and applying the rub. Once the meat is all prepped, it is smoked for several hours at a low temperature. Folks, let me tell you: maintaining the proper temperature on a smoker can be quite tricky, because if the smoker is not electric, you have to constantly add wood and charcoal.
Once your meat is nice and smoked, you must rest it. This is such a crucial step to BBQ’ing, and lots of work can be all for naught if you don’t observe a resting period! So by the time the actual “turn-in” time (competition) rolls around, there is nothing you can do if your meat is not perfectly rested. Crazy, right?
We didn’t do as well as we wanted at the Mid-South BBQ festival, but it was a handy opportunity to work out the kinks in our process, as we are all relatively new to BBQ. The work surely paid off, and I’m happy to report that we did very well at the Jack Daniel’s Invitational. Other than the fact that it is a mere honor to be invited to this competition to begin with, the boys took 15th place of 90 participants in the brisket competition! Needless to say, we celebrated with some delicious whiskey from the Jack Daniel’s Distillery!
Being from South Africa, I admired the boys (as I call them) for coming all the way to compete against American teams who have competed for so many years. I’m excited to see what big things their U.S. presence means for the future of South African BBQ’ing!