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Need some suggestions for a work event

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    Need some suggestions for a work event

    Hi folks,

    My office is hosting a BBQ competition later this month and I am one of the 5 or so cooks who will be participating. I use the term "competition" very loosely- the prizes will be bragging rights and its really just a few guys with smokers looking to share some BBQ love and feed our co-workers something better than hot dogs.

    Here are the details:
    - Turn-in time is on a Monday at noon
    - We are not competing on specific meats. It is pure “chef’s choice”, to be judged by 3 resident foodies
    - Each cook needs to provide enough food to give a reasonable portion to about 30 people
    - The only equipment provided will be a large gas grill for heating, as well as a few basic office appliances (microwave, kettle/hot water, no ovens). We can bring our own gear.
    - In talking with the other cooks, one is doing brisket and another will likely be doing pork butts, and a turkey from another.

    My initial thought was pork butt as well, but it might be nice to try something different and mix it up a bit. I did a trial run with a few chicken lollipops using drumsticks last night and was quite happy with the results, and the short cook time would let me smoke these onsite. However, I will be using a WSM 18.5 and I’m estimating my capacity (using both racks) at around 30-35 lollipops, so just barely enough. I also like the idea of combining this with a single rib and a cornbread muffin, but this would mean having to cook my ribs in advance and reheat onsite.

    Does anyone have any advice or suggestions to offer? I’m an avid backyard BBQ’er but have never competed before so this is new territory for me. What would be the best way to re-heat the ribs with limited gear- Grill and hope for the best? Vac seal and reheat in a slow cooker? Crutch the ribs when cooking and leave in the foil to finish on the grill on the day of the event?

    Thanks, guys!

    If you are comfortable cooking it I'd do brisket. It's known to be more difficult to cook (hopefully this includes the judges) so the cook with the best brisket has a good shot of winning it all.

    Boneless short ribs would work too and you could fit a bunch in your WSM.


      I'm definitely not comfortable enough with brisket. I have only done one so far, and it wasn't my best result. Maybe next year.

      I should also add that our judges are far from experienced. We don't exactly live in a BBQ hotspot and for many of the people in attendance this may be the first meal of "real" BBQ. I wouldn't count on the value of a good brisket earning me any extra points.

      I hadn't thought about beef ribs. That may have to go on my trial list for this weekend!


        Here's a recipe to try. Get boneless if you can find them: http://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/for...ess-short-ribs


          If you have the time to put into it maybe try pulled pork using the Amazing Ribs method. Maybe only do a couple of butts or a picnics if you don't have time to do whole shoulder. The Memphis Dust is your ace in the hole. The meat will be so tasty you don't even want to cover it up with sauce.


            If you want to win a popular vote contest, make something (seriously - ANYTHING) that includes bacon. Bacon is the current hip and cool thing to add to every food known.
            I was at a party over the weekend where there was a pie competition. I make a killer 100% from-scratch pumpkin pie (make my own pumpkin glop, my own crust and even serve it with my own whipped cream) - seriously, it rocks. It lost to a chocolate pudding pie made with instant pudding, store bought crust and cool-whip - because someone sprinkled bacon bits on top of it. At least I'm not bitter or anything.
            Last edited by jholmgren; November 14, 2014, 11:16 AM.


            • Guy
              Guy commented
              Editing a comment
              Wow, I am not sure how I would react to losing to something like that. I do know that a lot of people these days do not appreciate good food or what it takes to get it. A lot of people also don't know how to cook. But you are right about bacon being the trend. Anyone can cook if they use enough bacon. I think you know yours was better and the work was worth it. How about bacon crumbs on pumpkin pie?? LOL

            • jholmgren
              jholmgren commented
              Editing a comment
              I was just a bit bitter according to my wife. I live in a neighborhood with a bunch of philistines! I don't mind losing to someone else who put in the effort, but that one hurt.
              Oh yeah - next year I'm putting bacon crumbles on the pumpkin pie... that'll fix 'em! :-)

            You could make some ABT's. I've done them a couple times and they've turned out great. They have bacon!! It's more of an appetizer probably, not a main dish.


            • cdd315
              cdd315 commented
              Editing a comment
              Mmmmmmm bacon ..... Smarkley you were the one that reminded me of those ABT's.
              Last edited by cdd315; November 14, 2014, 11:34 AM.

            • jholmgren
              jholmgren commented
              Editing a comment
              ...or try something using a bacon weave.

            • cdd315
              cdd315 commented
              Editing a comment
              Something using a bacon weave .. like a meatloaf!! Actually I always thought a turkey/pork mix for a meatloaf would be good. Put candied bacon around that. Wow that would be good stuff. You could do 3 of them for 35 people .. would that be enough? Nice suggestion @jholmgren for the weave.

            Smoked meatloaf


              Hmmm... How about Meathead's Steak House burgers? They have bacon! Your judges will be blown away. They will say they have never had a burger that tasted that good. Sometimes less is more.


                Since the judges are 'foodies' you are safe doing anything, if it were just co-workers you'd really have to do chicken. Personally I think a brisket done correctly beats any other meat done correctly. If you aren't comfortable with brisket, then I would do chicken, everybody loves chicken and those lollipops are something very unique. Pulled pork really comes down to whether they like your rub and sauce.

                Taking the bacon conversation from above, you can please a whole lot of palates with a bacon weave pork tenderloin. If you can get a good sauce with some bacon wrapped medallions it will be hard to beat.


                  So brisket, pork butt, and turkey are already being done- you don't want/need duplicates (then someone gets their feelings hurt when yours is voted better).

                  My vote would be do either:

                  4 racks of ribs, plenty to give each of 30 people one bone with plenty for seconds or leftovers. Start cooking at 5am, they should be done around 9-11am. Depending on weather or your drive time, start a little earlier if you'd need to. Foil them tightly when done, NO liquid inside, and reheat on the gasser when you get there.

                  That, or I like the steakhouse burger idea. Have your digital thermometers ready, and take those puppies to NO HIGHER than 160. Use 80/20 or 75/25 burger, use light smoke, and prepare to have people gasping in amazement at how good a burger is supposed to taste! 99% of people make overcooked dry terrible hamburgers, you will impress if you do it right. Plus, ground beef is considerably cheaper than ribs.


                    So I not do a couple things at once. First what I would do is I will think of an appetizer. Take for instance the jalapeno poppers with the spread. Split them in half and smoke those bad boys till they're soft. Since you're doing chicken maybe you can do wings with some sauces or dips. I love my pulled pork but if you can do ribs I would do that.


                      Thanks to everyone for the tips and advice. Based on some of the feedback here, I went with chicken lollipops but removed the skin and wrapped them in bacon, and served with a maple bourbon glaze. The results were excellent! I took second place to a stunning pork belly, and even then it was quite close. Thanks all!


                      • CandySueQ
                        CandySueQ commented
                        Editing a comment

                      Originally posted by cdhickey View Post
                      Thanks to everyone for the tips and advice. Based on some of the feedback here, I went with chicken lollipops but removed the skin and wrapped them in bacon, and served with a maple bourbon glaze. The results were excellent! I took second place to a stunning pork belly, and even then it was quite close. Thanks all!
                      Congratulations!! I'm happy it turned out for you


                        Good job cdhickey!



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