OK…now that I’ve had a chance to get the trailer cleaned out and put in storage, and time to reflect on the year, it’s time to recap our trip to the KCBS World Championship Invitational. This is the end of the year championships, and includes an open competition, a few ancillary categories, and then the final world championships for both the backyard and master’s series. There were a total of 145 teams there, about 130 of which had qualified to be there (there were 15 or so that just cooked the open).
The open came and went, we finished 19th in pork, but for whatever reason the other meats just didn’t hit. In addition to having to turn in great food, you also have to get lucky in fields this size. The table of judges you hit really has a huge impact on where you finish, and I think it’s safe to say that the top 50 on the day probably turned in food good enough to win. Some just got a little luckier than the others. I have always lived by the saying that “Luck = execution + opportunity”, but sometimes you don’t get the opportunity. Or maybe the execution was a little off. I don’t think it was, and I have done enough of these to know when it is (our pork in the invitational is a good example), but sometimes the judges see differently. We’ll take our finish in the 40s and move on.
The next day was the backyard invitational and the ancillaries. We do not participate in the backyard series, so all we had to do were the ancillaries, which is good, because I may have had a few too many “pops” the night before. With no turn ins until 2:00, there was plenty of time to recuperate.
The first turn in was Pork Chop. The presentation rules on this is open, so we put together this dish with mashed sweet potatoes topped with candied bacon and a sprig of rosemary, and grilled off the pork chops. We were super happy with this turn in, and thought we had a real good shot at winning. It was delicious.
As you can see, we put the one in the center back facing the side without the grill marks, which is frustrating to miss, but I’m still ready to dive into this dish, lol.
2nd up was turkey. We had initially set out to do turkey noodle soup with my sister in laws homemade noodles that are insane. However, with the entry having to be in the box, fitting 6 bowls of soup was a conundrum that we couldn’t quite figure out. So on to plan b, our Bacon Turkey sliders, which have done well for us in the past. Sliced smoked turkey, muenster cheese, bacon, arugula with a garlic aioli and a maple BBQ sauce we made up using a bourbon barrel aged syrup. They turned out well, but probably needed a little more sauce. Thought they had a shot at a good finish, but didn’t feel as strongly as we did about the pork chop.
The final ancillary was 360 cocktail. 360 Vodka sponsored this turn in, and provided each team a bottle of whatever vodka flavor they wanted, and to do as we wish. Presentation rules were that we had to use their cups, and then turn them in on a platter. Other than that, anything goes. My wife put together a fantastic s’mores martini that, in my biased opinion, should have got a perfect score. A couple judge friends of ours stopped by after they were done and we gave them one, and they agreed. Said it was much better than any of the drinks that came across their tables (and they would have told us if there were better - I expected them to say that even there weren’t, lol).
That night we went to the awards banquet where they awarded the Team of the Year prizes, as well as the awards for backyard and ancillaries. We knew we finished 14th in the world in Ribs for the year (awards go to the top 15, so just nicked in there), so the ancillaries were the only drama, but it’s always fun to help celebrate all our friends who also had great seasons.
For ancillaries, the Pork Chop awards were first, and we ended up 2nd place! When you start to get a little creative with some of these ancillaries it’s always disappointing when you put a ton of effort into one dish and then it doesn’t pay off, so we were super happy that it did this time. Trust me, making mashed sweet potatoes on a smoker is quite a bit of effort, lol.
Turkey was up next, and we didn’t hear our name called. We did, however, win our table, meaning that of the 6 entries that those judges had, ours was their favorite. This is where that luck comes in I was talking about. There were about 80 teams that turned in turkey. So there was probably 13 tables. Our first on a table was still 36th. Again, I think it could have used some more sauce, so maybe it was too dry to get a top 10, but top 20-25 should have happened there if things were even.
Cocktail was last to announce awards, and we finished 10th. I actually was more disappointed in this than the turkey just due to the damage that was done to my liver testing all the different test drinks.
So we walked away with 2 trophies Saturday night, the Ribs Team of the Year, and the Pork Chop 2nd place.
The next day was the Master’s Series invitational, and everything went pretty smooth. Pork was a little off tenderness wise, but we got pieces in there we thought were good. At the end of the day, we heard our name for 2nd in brisket, which was a huge way to end the year. Brisket was a little up and down for us this year, so finishing strong in that category was a great way to end the year. Finished in the 30s, which again, isn’t anything to be upset about in that field.
Now it’s on to the offseason. We always take orders for food for Christmas time, and we have a wedding to cater on New Year’s Eve. Then we’ll get a couple months without much going on BBQ wise - so maybe I can knock some of that Honey-do list out down, and make some sausage (I probably have 40 pork butts that I won’t cook for a contest sitting in the freezer, so I have stuff to use, lol.
Then we’ll get back on the grind and try to take 2022 by storm! Thanks for following along, everyone that stuck with it this year. I’ll try and keep this going next year too, as I really enjoy writing these things - finding the time is the hard part, lol.