Archive for bbq

Connersville,Decatur, and Ethnic Expo…

Posted in Competition BBQ with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2012 by Big JT

I know I havent kept up to date with this, but it is hard to find time to sit down and recap competitions. This has been our busiest year yet in Competition BBQ.  We just competed in our 11th competition so far this year at the Decatur, Al 2012 Riverfest. A few weeks before that we were in Connersville,In for the Thunder in the Park and from the weather forecast that is exactly what we thought it was going to be with the remnants of the hurricane blowing through it was tough to find 25 teams willing to cook the event. We ended up making the 25 team limit. We had a pretty good showing with a 3rd overall and 4 category calls. Congrats to Kevin from Juicy Butts BBQ for his 1st KCBS GC. Connersville was supposed to be the last competition of the season, but we decided to try our hand at a few more before the end of the year.

We set our sights on Decatur,Al for its 2012 Riverfest competition (made famous by BBQ Pitmasters) it was a short 6 hour drive down I-65S then we hung a right at the rocket and found ourselves at the home of Big Bob Gibson… Check in was a breeze as we were greeted by Ken Hess and directed to site 34 which would be home for the weekend. Pretty uneventful night as we ate at Big Bob Gibson’s restaurant and then returned to get started on prepping the meat for the fire. Apparently they had a famous music star there by the name of Lee Brice and there was one hell of a concert Friday night. After a short nap we put the meat on the Jambo Pit and took a walk around and met up with George from Pitmaker at the Kingsford tent. We got an upclose view of the Kingsford Pitmaker Vault trailer… All i can say is I now want a Pit Maker Pit, their quality is great and i think it would fit in to our vending needs.  We were pleased with out turn in boxes and even tried a new pork recipe… On to Rewards… We were just hoping for a to 15 finish in that group of competitors. In the end we received a 4th place chicken, 1st place Pork, and 4th overall (tieing for 3rd but losing the tie breaker) needless to say we were ecstatic with our results. We even recieved a big check from Kingsford for the Kingsford Challenge.

On the way home from Decatur we decided that we can cook one more event for 2012 and that is in White County, Ga at the end of October. We will also be vending at the 2012 Ethnic Expo in Columbus, In for the 2nd year in a row on October 12&13, 2012

To finish off here are some pictures from the last few competitions…

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Liberty,In BBQ results and other things

Posted in Competition BBQ with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2012 by Big JT

Well, about 2 weeks ago we competed at the Liberty, In Smokin’ on the Water competition. This was our third year there and they had definitely added some improved electric and water utilities for all the teams. 31 teams showed up to battle it out. Since we didn’t have our new offset cooker yet, we decided to run the Ole Hickory CTO even though I had retired it to vending and catering only.  We arrived mid afternoon after a few stops and started to set everything up and socialize with the neighbors.  We had Jeff and Shelly from Yellow River BBQ, Rich from Bonehead BBQ and a new team WeQ4U on the other side. We couldn’t have asked for any better neighbors.

The overall results of Liberty weren’t that great, on the bright side we got a 6th place call in ribs and the DBQ Smokin Sauce took 4th / 20 teams. Chicken gave us fits as it wasn’t up to the temp we like for turn in but it wasn’t undercooked, well the legs were. We ended up with a 18th place finish. We had an issue with the CTO, some of the internal wiring that controls the draft fans had actually broke and we had to do emergency smoker surgery by Droid Flashlight app at about 0345 in the morning, which put us behind our schedule. We all thought pork was good, and even brisket was good but not good enough as we finished 17th and 20th respectively in those categories’.  Lady’s Grilled Banana Pudding finished 3rd in the anything but category, the winner turned in Brisket something or other… Not sure what it was.

I want to take this time and congratulate Marc and Matt from Velvet Smoke on the Grand Champion at Liberty, I hope there are many more for those guys. They say the first one is the hardest one to get. We also want to say good luck to the few teams we know are down at Memphis in May. DBQ is down there cooking the Whole Hog category, that’s a tough one, not a lot of Party teams cook whole hog… As one of my BBQ Mentors says “Better have your big girl panties on”

Memorial Day weekend we are taking a trip down south to Burleson, Tx to pick up the new Jambo Pit. I think we are going to make a pit stop and eat at one of the newest BBQ restaurants in the Memphis area… Memphis BBQ Company. It’s going to be a long trip down there but it will be worth it to pick up the new pit. Once we pick up the pit we have one week, well actually less than one week to try and figure it out before we head up to Fair Oaks, In for the Milk Cow Music Festival and compete for $15,000 in prize money.

2012 Benton Kookoff

Posted in Competition BBQ with tags , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2012 by Big JT

First competition of the season has come and gone, and while we expected a little better placing, we had a great time.  First off, Thank you to Shane and his crew from Drapers BBQ( He went out of his way to help us out so we could travel to the comp light and cook. Between the use of his Toy hauler, cooking on the Tucker Cooker ( I do have to say the Tucker Cooker is an impressive piece of work and if i hadnt already spent the money on a Jambo, i would say that i would probably pick up a Tucker, hell I think I will just get both… Also, we were told we were having burgers for dinner, and I expected run of the mill burgers… NOT Shane and Co. made up some monster 1lb Bacon and Cheese stuffed burgers cooked on the Grilla pellet cooker that were amazing, I had one and had to go into a food coma for a bit.  We also got a sneak preview of the new Brisket / Beef rub called Moo’d Enhancer which is pretty amazing, and is going through some testing here at home so I can incorporate the rub into our Competition arsenal, it helps bring out  the beef flavor that can get lost in all the other flavors of BBQ. It is a very bold rub, but not overpowering.

As for the cook itself, it couldn’t have gone any better, well that is until turn in time. With our chicken turn in we went outside the box a bit and i’m not sure how the judges really cared for it, scores weren’t too bad but it didn’t place well (29/42). Our ribs were very good, but then again we fell short of the top ten with an (18/42) placing. Pork was our bright spot of the day with a 9th place showing thanks to DBQ Smokin Sauce. Now to brisket… my strongest category from last year where were weren’t out of the top 10 … this brisket that was cooked was the best we have ever done, flavor was outstanding, tenderness was spot on… not sure what was going on in the judges tent but I was for sure the brisket was a top 5 product, but it finished  22nd. So i was a little disappointed in the showing, but we have to stay the course our next competition is in Liberty, Indiana in May. Hopefully we will have the Jambo by then so we can get the smoke rolling with it.

We did get to walk around and meet a bunch of great guys on the BBQ Circuit,  we chatted it up with Chris Chadwick from Grillin and Chillin and Bill Arnold from Blues Hog BBQ plus many more that we see more often on the trail such as Bourbon Barrel BBQ, Pappy Q, and the eventual GC Eat More Butt. A big Congrats goes out to those guys. Also want to thank Mojobricks ( and Simply Marvelous BBQ ( for their great products we couldn’t do it without your support!

Holiday cooking Tips…

Posted in Around the house, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2011 by Big JT

If I had one single tip for how to improve your holiday bird cook… would be summed up in one single word….BRINE!

There is a science to the brine, but without getting into it here is the simple explanation:  When the bird absorbs the brine. There, the brine begins to denature the meat proteins, causing them to unwind and form a matrix that traps the water. And if the brine includes herbs, garlic,or peppercorns, those flavors are trapped in the meat, too. Instead of seasoning on the surface only, as most cooks do, brining carries the seasonings throughout, and YES you can brine an enhanced bird as well due to osmosis it will help balance out the salt solution between the brine and the bird.

A quick search on your favorite internet search engine will yield a plethera of brine recipes. Over the years, I’ve ended up with a pretty simple brine recipe. I have found that the salt is the real secret to a brine. All the other stuff helps a little, but to keep it easy, I like a nice and simple brine:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 cup salt (Kosher)
  • 1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • About a palmful (I’d guess a TBS or more) of whole peppercorns
  • Sometimes if I feel the spirit, I’ll add a squeeze of honey or maple syrup or squeeze a fresh orange or lemon

Just whip up the brine, place the completely thawed turkey SLOWLY into the brine and if necessary, top off with water to completely submerge. I’ve used a 5 gallon bucket before, but a 16 qt stockpot works well too. You want to make sure not to use an enhanced bird (injected) as it won’t take the brine as easily and may already have salt in it. I brine my turkeys for 18-24 hours…..usually 24 hours, if I’ve not pushed the time limit!

One big tip that I can offer regarding brining is this…..PLAN FOR ENOUGH TIME FOR THE BIRD TO REST!!! The skin on a brined bird will also take on some moisture with the process. Pur right on the smoker, this will make more of a “rubbery” skin when finished. If, on the other hand, you take the bird out of the brine the night before the big cook and place it back in the fridge on a rack (or upside down plate in a pan….just to keep it out off the bottom and out of the water), the refer will “dehydrate” the skin a bit and allow it to tighten back up and go back to “normal”. This will yield a better finish texture to the skin in the long run.

As far as seasoning the bird after the brine, I personally will use Simply Marvelous Sweet Seduction for my turkey cook this Holiday Season.  But if you want to be creative you can just about anything  you want to, or you can tweak this simple Turkey seasoning to your tastes.


  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 teaspoons minced onion
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup white wine Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  1. In a blender or food processor, mix rosemary, thyme, onion, garlic, white wine Worcestershire sauce, coarse salt, pepper, and olive oil. Pulse until well blended. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator at least 10 minutes before rubbing under turkey skin or injecting into meat as desired.


So…. After you take the bird out of the brine and allow it to rest, apply your seasoning of choice to the bird and pop it into the Cooking device of your choice. For me I don’t use the oven very often anymore, so I would turn to my old stand by UDS or if  I am cooking multiple birds I will fire up my CTO and crank the heat up as high as i can get it. I have found that poultry responds better to a higher heat cook rather than a low and slow as poultry will soak up smoke and the skin will be rubbery if cooked at lower temps. When smoking your bird stick with a lighter fruit wood instead of a heavier flavored wood such as hickory or mesquite. If you do not have access or do not want a smoked bird for your Holiday you can turn out a great bird in the oven.

Before you pop the bird into the Smoker or Oven you want to take into consideration that the White meat and Dark meat have different finishing temps.  White Meat is done at a lower temperature than Dark meat. When cooking I like taking the bird to about  170* in the thigh and pull it once it reaches that temp. Residual cooking will take it up a few more degrees but it shouldn’t overcook the white meat (which is done about 10* before that). Some people will put a foil tent over the top of the breast  to help keep from overcooking, but I like taking a zip top bag and filling it with ice and place on the breast of the bird for about 15-20 minutes to help chill it so it wont cook as fast.

Once the bird is cooked let it sit and rest for about 30 minutes before carving. I have included a Turkey carving video for you to get an idea of how to do it.

If you follow these cooking tips you will have a bird that will have your friends and family raving about it all year long.  I also want to thank  and give credit to Kempis for all his help for putting this together.

Big JT wins chicken in Westmont,Ill

Posted in backyard, Competition BBQ with tags , , , , on June 22, 2011 by Big JT

Thanks to my sponsor we were able to head up to Westmont,Ill to be a part of the Red, White, and  BBQ event over Memorial Day Weekend. We arrived Friday evening and dropped off the trailer then headed to the hotel for the night. Saturday morning we ate some breakfast at the hotel and then headed back to the contest site to get everything set up for meat inspections later in the morning.  Lisa volunteered to cook in the Amature Rib cook off since her dad (Pop’s Belly BBQ) was unable to make the trip up.  Lisa is the dessert queen of the team and has never cooked a rack of ribs in her life, but she jumped right in there and prepped her ribs, I gave her my temp and rib time line, but she chose her rub and sauce combo. Everything went well until it was time to slice the ribs for presentation boxes, the bones were pretty curved, but she managed to get 6 ribs in the box and turned in on time.

Lisa with her 9th place Rib award

After the cooks meeting they had the Amature awards at the stage, we really weren’t expecting much but she managed to get 9th place out of 40 teams.
The rest of the evening was pretty uneventful, I managed to catch about 6 hours of sleep before lighting the fire and starting the cook.
We dealt with some sporadic rain throughout the morning but that is to be expected at a BBQ competition.  Right before chicken turn in I see about 60 CBJ’s runing out of the judging tent, apparently there was some bad weather on the way and they were evacuating the park . Well, needless to say there was no way any of us Cooks were leaving the area. They finally announced that judging was going to be delayed about 2 hours, so back into the cambros everything went… except I didnt have my cambro, so I turned the CTO down to 160* and laoaded it back up with all my meats to hold for the next two hours. The first storm passes with nothing to speak of and at this point we would be finishing up turn ins as it was around 1:15 and brisket would be up next. The second storm comes though and has some heavy rain with it but nothing else to speak of. 
Once everything was all clear we were told that chicken will be judged at 2:00 PM then every half hour after that for the other catagories. 
I had the most faith in Chicken and Brisket for the day, after boxing chicken I knew it had good taste but wasn’t sure with tenderness due to sitting an extra 2 hours. Ribs and pork I knew both were bad, ribs were still tougher than i wanted and pork was dry and over cooked. Brisket was pretty good, tenderness was there but taste was lacking a bit, but we turned in our best effort and just had to hope for the best.
After turn in’s were completed we started breaking down camp and our friends from Bonehead BBQ showed up just in time to help break down and hang out before awards. At awards we weren’t expecting much of anything, Lisa ended up 7th in dessert I finally was able to break through the chicken barrier and placed 1st beating out Quau and some other reall good teams. That would be the only call of the day as we finished 14th in brisket , 56th in pork, and 54th or so in ribs. All in all it was a good competition and we are looking forward to returning next year!

1st place Chicken


Smoke Break BBQ improves showing at Liberty,In Competition

Posted in Competition BBQ with tags , , , , , on May 5, 2011 by Big JT

Well, just finished unpacking from the Liberty competition, we didnt do bad, but we sure as hell can do better. Chicken again is my Achilles heel 22nd place out of 35 i believe, Ribs improved drastically to 11th just missing top ten by a narrow margin, Pork finally cracked top 10 this year with a 9th place, and Brisket dropped to 16th, which i find hard to believe because this was the best brisket TC has ever produced in competition. But that is BBQ, a HUGE congrats to Rich at Bonehead BBQ for his two HUGE calls in pork and brisket. This was his first KCBS competition and he took 3rd place pork and 6th in brisket i believe. I think that 4 hour trip back to Chicago was a little easier with some gas money and trophies LOL.

We also were the first team to cook with the new CHERRY Mojobrick which is an amazing product and I predict that it will take off sooner rather than later.

Also at Liberty, I took 3rd in a burger contest, 2nd in sauce, and Lady took 1st in anything butt when she made a White Chocolate Raspberry cheesecake, it was amazing, this makes her a 2 time defending champ in Liberty and she is ready for the next one!

Here are some pictures of our turn in boxes and other pics from the weekend.

Promoting BBQ 101

Posted in backyard, Competition BBQ, Important News with tags , , , , , , on March 15, 2011 by Big JT

TC and I were up bright and early to go one two morning radio shows, first we were on 100.3 FM KORN Country with Dave “The King” Wilson promoting and giving a little background on our Competition team. After we wrapped it up there it was time to bring in the food and let the morning crews sample the BBQ we were talking about. About 20 minutes later we went into QMIX and chatted it up with the Q Wake Up Crew. TC and I had a blast and I believe we are getting some good promotion for the class. For more info on the class Click the BBQ 101 link on the right side of the page. Here are some pictures from this morning with the Q Wake up Crew.


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