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Joined by our passion for meat, beer, cards and meat, we created a compitition bbq team to partake in just that.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Santa Anita BBQ Competition 2012

The following is a re-post of an article written by MEATME Blog.  It's mostly about Meat, Inc. BBQ Team - the pictures are awesome - and the article is about Meat, Inc.  All great reasons to copy it here!  

We did get permission from Meat Me to copy it.  You should visit his blog and check out his other stories.  They are all great!

Santa Anita BBQ Competition 2012

It couldn’t be a better day for a BBQ competition. It is hot but not too hot, it is packed but not over crowded and the smell of BBQ filled the air. When most people in Los Angeles, California hear the words BBQ they think of summer, swim suits by the pool, and hot dogs and hamburgers over an open flame. That is not real BBQ, it is a myth created by television.

The most perfect day to have a BBQ Competition and eat as much BBQ as possible.

Real BBQ is cooking meat, poultry and occasionally fish with heat and the hot smoke of a fire, smoking wood, or hot coals of charcoal. Typically, to grill is to cook in this manner quickly, while barbecue is typically a much slower method utilizing less heat than grilling, attended to over an extended period of several hours.

Meat fans feed each other as Rooftop shows off their trophies and BBQ sauce.

Barbecue competitions are a whole other sport. Professional barbecue competitors will spend tens of thousands of dollars to build the perfect smoker in order to achieve that exemplary barbecue taste. They will spend countless hours smoking to enjoy a piece of meat that may take 5 minutes to eat. Spending that much time, money, and effort has got to be worth it.

People line up for Rooftop's pork ribs.

I have always loved BBQ and came across the blog http://www.meatinc.blogspot.com/ and was introduced to Aaron Black.  A professional smoker with a passion to educated people on barbecuing for themselves. He invited me out to the Santa Anita BBQ Competition as a fellow meat lover how could I turn him down.

MEAT Inc's smoked skin on pork shoulder.

I headed out to Santa Anita Race track for the time of my life. Only heaven had 37 BBQ teams competing to be the best BBQ. When I arrived I expected to see a billow of smoke coming out of the middle of the track. That was not the case but the sweet smell of smoke hit my nose the second I got off the freeway. 

Pork gets pulled as people dive in to MEAT Inc's pork ribs.

I parked, got my ticked and headed into meat town. I skipped breakfast just for this day. I walked on to the BBQ grass field of meat battle for some of the greatest flavors my mouth had ever experienced. The second I met Aaron Black of Meat Inc. I had so many questions and here is what he had to say.

Aaron Black of MEAT Inc works the BBQ as some smoked bologna.

MEAT ME: Who judges these BBQ’s? What makes someone a certified BBQ judge?

Aaron Black: Typically the judges are certified BBQ judges; by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. They have to take classes. This particular event the judges are 100% CBJ qualified, 3 or 4 of them are first timers, which means they took their class not too long ago and this is their first event being a judge.

Left: Pork Fatty: Hot dogs, home made chili wrapped with sausage and weaved bacon.
Right: Breakfast Fatty: pancakes, apple pie filling, and cream cheese wrapped with sausage and a weaved layer of bacon.

MEAT ME: How many judges are there?

Aaron Black: There is one judge for every team. So 37 teams, 37 judges; no judge will taste more than one of your meat types. So if you turn in chicken to judge one, he won’t try any of your brisket, pulled pork, or ribs. It will then go to another judge. A lot of people moan that if it is not 100 percent CBJ they will get bad scores because your loosing that consistency across the board from competition to competition. A lot of people complain that the judges don’t have more training; may be they get stuck in a rut and all of a sudden they don’t like anything spicy and they only prefer sweet. It is kind of a tricky thing. Some people cook to the judges and do a really good job; and some people cook what they like and they typically don’t win. Some people try to make a happy medium which is kind of where we are at.

Aaron Black carefully cuts the pork fatty to give to carefully selected taste buds.

MEAT ME: So how many different MEAT’s are cooked?

Aaron Black: There are 4 meats in every competition. You start out with chicken; then you go to pork ribs; then you go to pork butt; and then you go to brisket.

Aaron Black explaining how they make their Pork Fatty!
MEAT ME: So is brisket the only beef that they have?

Aaron Black: Yes.

MEAT ME: How many years have you guys been doing this?

Aaron Black: Since 2005. 

All the meat you could ever need from MEAT Inc.

MEAT ME: How many events do you guys do in a year?

Aaron Black: We do between 9 and 11 events a year. We’ll do as many events as my wife will let me do. That is basically the limitation.

MEAT ME: What kid of meats did you guys bring today?

Aaron Black: We brought all kinds of extra meat for people’s choice (the people get to vote for their favorite BBQ as well) we always bring extra chicken, cause people love chicken. We brought bratwurst cause that’s easy to cook and its relatively inexpensive. We also did pulled pork and we made brisket chili. We just came back from Lake Havasu where we won first place in chili and first place in people’s choice chili. So today we did the same chili we made there.

LEFT: Barbecue Chicken RIGHT: MEAT Inc's signature Pork Balls.

MEAT ME: How did you get into this?

Aaron Black: One of my buddies; his dad sold BBQ’s. So we bought up a bunch of BBQ’s and thought this was great. My friend said, “Hey my Dad’s gonna be in this BBQ competition!” and thought, “Hell yeah! We can do that too!”. So we went out cooked meat, played cards, drank a few beers, threw some meat in a box and had a great time. We only did 1-3 contest a year and now we take it a lot more seriously.

The MEAT Inc. team safely guards their precious beef brisket as they take it to the judges.

MEAT ME: How many of you guys are there?

Aaron Black: We have 4 core members but today we have 18 guys.

MEAT ME: How many people do you serve up at these events?

Aaron Black: Today we will server about 1,500, probably more.

MEAT Inc. drops off their Beef Brisket with the KCBS judges.

MEAT ME: So what is your favorite MEAT?

Aaron Black: I really like chicken. A lot of these BBQ guys don’t like chicken because they have to cook it all the time. I love it. I cook chicken almost every weekend.

MEAT ME: And you like it barbecued?

Aaron Black: Yea

People stand around MEAT Inc. as they enjoy their beef brisket.

MEAT ME: So you guys do rub and then smoke?

Aaron Black: Yea our competition chicken we actually do a butter bath. We cook it in butter and brown sugar for about 40 minutes and then we put it on the grate. It is really sweet and really juicy.

We are about to cook smoked spam, do you like smoked spam (spam fries)?

MEAT ME: I don’t know.

Aaron Black: Well you’re about to (laughs).

Aaron Black of MEAT Inc. slices up his Spam Fries.

I was so fascinated by what the judges do that I just so happened that as the judges were leaving I was able to grab KCBS Judge Steve Alvarez and ask him a few question about what a barbecue judge really does.

The judges stop by Meat Inc. to give thanks for participating in the BBQ competition.

MEAT ME: What is involved when judging BBQ?

KCBS Steve Alvarez: Every BBQ society has its own standards and qualifications when judging. In this particular instance it is the Kansas City Barbecue society. There are 4 basic categories Chicken, Pork Ribs, Pork Shoulder, and Brisket. Those 4 are always included in the competition. 

KCBS Judge Steve Alvarez

MEAT ME: What do you look for when judging BBQ?

KCBS Steve Alvarez: What The 3 things that we look for when judging individual meat entries is its appearance, the second thing we look at is tenderness, and finally the most important would be flavor. We score every one of those items individually. We grade every single entry to the same standards. We don’t compare the meats to each other; each entry stands on its’ own.

Evil Pig BBQ prepares their perfect Beef Brisket for the Judges.

KCBS Steve Alvarez: I love being able to taste the best of the best.

Spicy Bull's Eye BBQ Sauce over pork shoulder.

MEAT ME: How many meat’s might you taste in one event?

KCBS Steve Alvarez: 6 meats per entry times 4 is 24 meats. I take a good bite out of each one so I can give a fair judgment. If I am going to grade something really high, I generally give it a second bite to make sure I am right before I give it a top score. 

Pork shoulder from High Gravity with their Spicy BBQ sauce.

MEAT ME: What about low scores?

KCBS Steve Alvarez: I also do the same thing for the lower scores. If I taste something that isn’t getting a very good score I will always give them a second bite to make sure my first conclusion was correct. This is how I operate. Generally its one good bite per meat and you can generally tell what you are getting.

A mother feeds her husband, as he feeds his son. Everybody needs their BBQ.

MEAT ME: What does one have to go through in order to become a judge?

KCBS Steve Alvarez: The Kansas City Barbecue Society hold periodic judging classes. I lived in California at the time; there was a judging class in Lake Havasu; I drove down there to pay the fee and take the class. It is a 4-hour class. 2 hours of classroom and 2 hours of practical application. It was open discussion after you tasted your meat and you got an idea of a system. 

I have never seen a little girl so excited for BBQ, that is until I tasted their Pork Shoulder.

KCBS Steve Alvarez: After that you are considered qualified and you start entering competitions. You are judging along master judges who have been judging as many as 30 to 40 judging years under their belt. You learn from them and no one is ashamed of discussing it afterward. We discuss the meats after they are graded and the scores are turned in. It’s a “What did you think of this? And what did you think of that?” and that is a learning experience as well. It is an education all the way through you’re never gonna stop learning about meat.

Here is Big Mista's pulled pork shoulder just soaking in juice after being smoked for several hours.

MEAT ME: What is your favorite type of MEAT?

KCBS Steve Alvarez: Well my initial favorite was always pork ribs. That is how I got into this. As time has gone on I have tasted such wonderful, wonderful meats that now I am thinking that a very well cooked brisket will compete with a very good rib. A brisket is very difficult to cook, and get top scores – than when you find it, it is very, very good. 

Pork It Up's beef brisket put on yesterday around 8pm. They let it marinate with a little garlic, worcestershire sauce, and smoked it with some mosquito and red oak. They are from Sacramento, CA.

The BBQ at this event was amazing it didn't take a judge to see that. I arrived at the event at 1pm and by 3pm most of the stands were out of BBQ. When I arrived at the event I payed $4 to get in (which also gave me access to the horse races, and then $10 for my vote ticked and $10 in food tickets. For a taste it cost me $2 per stand which wasn't bad at all. I was almost full by the 5 stand.

Last horse race of the day before the awards ceremony.

I didn't bet on any horse races but you could tell from the screaming that a lot of the people around me did. This really was the setting for a perfect day. A belly filled with just about every spice ever made, the weather was perfect, and I was at a sporting event. It is the perfect place to bring the family and an ideal event for a pregnant women to over indulge (I saw like 20 pregnant women there, they must love this stuff). As Aaron's wife explained it to me, "It is the perfect place for woman where all she can do is eat!"

Rooftop BBQ runs up to collect their trophy for Best Pork Ribs.

After the last race of the day it was time to give out the awards. Everyone gathers around as they announce the best of the best. It really wasn't a competitive as I was expecting a lot of these people were friends and where very happy for all the winners. My next quest is to try the food of all the winners to see what it takes to be the best.

The TOP winners of the 2012 Santa Anita BBQ Competition.

Starting Top Left to Right, Top then Bottom :
Winner Best Chicken - The Pitt Crew BBQ
Winner Best Pork Ribs - Roof Top BBQ
Winner Best Pork Shoulder - Brazen BBQ
Winner Best Brisket - Bad Ass BBQ
Winner Peoples Choice - Big Mista's BBQ
Runner Up Best Overall - Leftcoast Q
Winner Overall - Slap Yo Daddy  BBQ

All amazing things must come to an end.
They may not be in the top 10 but their passion for MEAT creativity is enough to leave you wanting more.

Scoring results…

BBQ Chicken
1 The Pit Crew BBQ
2 Fun Time BBQ
3 Butchers Daughter
4 Slap Yo Daddy
5 Leukemia Sucks Too
6 Leftcoast Q
7 Big Papa Smokers
8 Smokin’ Yankee’s
9 All kinds of BBQ
10 All Hogs Go To Heaven

BBQ Pork Ribs
1 Rooftop BBQ
2 Big Daddy Q’n Crew
3 Patlans Applewood BBQ
4 Smokin Yankees
5 Leftcoast Q
6 All Kinds of BBQ
7 Lady of Q
8 Butchers Daughter
9 The Rub Company
10 Hog Wild BBQ

BBQ Pork Shoulder
1 Brazen BBQ
2 Simply Marvlous BBQ
3 Burnin & Lootin
4 Chillin and Grillin
5 Who’s Smoking Now
6 Mad Dogs BBQ
7 Big Papa Smokers
8 Lady of Q
9 Hog Wild
10 The Rub Company

1 Bad Ass BBQ
2 When Pigs Fly
3 Slap Yo Daddy BBQ
4 Butchers Daughters BBQ
5 Mad Dogs
6 All Sauced Up
7 the Rub Co.
8 Leftcoast Q
9 Pelletheads.com
10 Big Daddy’s Q’n and Crew

Over All BBQ
1 Slap Yo Daddy BBQ
2 Leftcoast Q
3 Butchers Daughter
4 Burnin’ and Lootin’
5 Who’s Smoking Now
6 Big Daddys Q’n Crew
7 Smokin’ Yankees 
8 All Sauced Up
9 Fun Time BBQ
10 Brazen BBQ

Peoples Choice Award
BigMista’s Barbecue

The end of a long day at an empty Santa Anita Race Track.

I would like to thank Aaron Black at MEAT Inc. for inviting me out and making me their special guest. I would also like to thank Steve Alvarez for his time and inside into being a KCBS Judge. If you ever have the chance to go to a BBQ competition, go for it. I would do it all over again.

I encourage you to check out http://www.meatinc.blogspot.com for all your BBQ needs and how where and when MEAT Inc. will be next.

BBQ is Life,
Sean Rice 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reser's Fine Foods - new Meat, Inc. BBQ Team Sponsor!

Reser’s Selects Top-Rated Competition Barbeque Teams Pellet Envy, Pork Barrel BBQ, and Meat, Inc. to Sponsor During 2012 Barbecue Season
Beaverton, Ore. – March 14, 2012 – ‘Que season is officially underway and Reser’s, makers of America’s #1 potato salad, announced today it is sponsoring three competitive barbecue teams: Representing the West Coast is Meat, Inc., winner of numerous People’s Choice awards, the Midwest features Pellet Envy, the 2009 KCBS Team of the Year, and serving as the East Coast representative is Pork Barrel BBQ, creator of the barbecue sauce Men’s Health magazine named the best BBQ sauce in America.

In addition to sponsoring the Kansas City Barbecue Society’s (KCBS) national BBQ tour, we are joining forces with three top barbecue teams across the country,” says Teresa Carter, category manager. “Barbecue lovers will be able to taste our salads and ‘slaw right alongside mouthwatering barbecue.”

Meat, Inc.
Meat, Inc. is a professional BBQ Team competing primarily in Southern California and Arizona. Finishing a successful 2011 season, Meat, Inc. ranked in the top five percent in chicken and pork rib categories and top 10 percent overall - out of more than 9,000 teams in the country. For more information, visit http://meatinc.blogspot.com/.

Aaron Black, pitmaster, states, “BBQ makes you think of family and friends - just like Reser's famous potato salad and cole slaw. We look forward to sharing the Reser's story with barbecue fans around the country this year."

Pellet Envy
It is only natural that one of the country’s top barbecue competitors hails from Kansas City – a city known for its barbecue. Competing since 2001, Rod Gray, pitmaster has participated in more than 350 events from coast to coast. To date, Pellet Envy has won seventy-seven championships and has ended ten straight seasons as a top nationally ranked team. For more information visit www.pelletenvy.com.

Rod Gray states, “There is no star without a great supporting cast. For Pellet Envy, great salads and side dishes from Reser's are the perfect pairing for our award-winning barbecue. “

Pork Barrel BBQ
Pork Barrel BBQ founders, Heath Hall and Brett Thompson, started the company out of the basement of their houses, selling their award winning BBQ sauce one bottle at a time. Today, their barbecue sauces and spice rub is carried in over 3,000 stores in 40 states. Throughout their journey, they have stayed true to their mission – to unite the nation through the great tradition of BBQ, and bring bipartisan flavor to your next meal. For more information visit www.porkbarrelbbq.com.

"Reser's Fine Foods is as synonymous to the American Dream as potato salad is to a barbecue," said Heath Hall, president and pitmaster. "We are honored to have Reser's as a sponsor of the Pork Barrel BBQ competition barbecue team because they helped pave the road for aspiring entrepreneurs who, like them, started in their home with the hope of attaining a piece of the American Dream.”

About Reser’s
Oregon-based Reser’s is the leading North American provider of deli salads, fresh salads, side dishes and prepared foods. Founded in 1950 by Earl and Mildred Reser, the company remains privately owned and operated and committed to providing delicious foods for the supermarket and food service industries. Reser’s employs more than 4,000 people in nearly 20 facilities in the U.S. and Mexico. For more information, visit www.resers.com.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Shillelagh Sticks

Shillelagh Sticks area named after an ancient Irish fighting stick - someone cleverly named this appetizer after that stick.  St. Patrick's Day is coming up so I thought I'd share this recipe with you.

Easy to make on a smoker or even in the oven.  This appetizer is great for any kind of party, easy to prep and quick to make.

Four basic ingredients:
1lb of bacon
2 cans of bread sticks
Italian Seasoning
Parmesan Cheese

Slice the bacon in half lengthwise.

Wrap one half slice of bacon around each bread stick piece.

Seemed easy to start the bacon and then twirl it around the bread stick so the bacon is evenly wrapped around and covering as much dough as possible.

I smoked these on a pellet grill at 275F.  I wanted the bacon to cook completely without overcooking the bread wrapped inside.

You could also bake these in the oven but take some precautions to ensure the grease rendering off of the bacon doesn't create a fire hazard.

While the bacon is cooking, go ahead and make up the seasoning.  Combine equal parts Italian Seasoning and Parmesan Cheese.

After the bacon is done - I cooked these at 275 F for about 70 minutes.  You would think that the bread sticks would be completely overdone - and the ends that were not wrapped in bacon were pretty crispy.  Not inedible but pretty crispy.

The inside bread stick that was wrapped in bacon soaked up some of the grease rendered out of the bacon and was still relatively moist - a little crispy - but pretty tasty.

After you get the snacks out of the smoker or oven and while they are still hot, roll the sticks in the dry spices and Parmesan Cheese and then shake off all the excess.

A nice even cover of seasoning will really add lots of flavor to the bread stick and bacon.

Make plenty of these for your St. Patrick's Day party - they'll go quickly!

Let's eat!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

POINK Balls!

POINK Balls!

Wha wha what?  What in the wide world of sports is a POINK Ball?  It all started when I saw a recipe on The BBQ Grail.  The recipe was for MOINK Balls - Moo + Oink = MOINK - basically the recipe called for (beef) meatballs wrapped in bacon and smoked slow and low.  Sounded great to me!  Tried it!  Possibly one of the best things I've ever put in my.... er.... they were awesome!

Lately I've been kinda more picky about my meats.  I'd like to get as fresh as possible and know what's in my meat.  Ground Beef can be anything - ground chuck is better - it has to be what it says on the label - ground beef is - well - beef - honestly, that sounds kinda generic.  Back to the story.

No ground chuck.  Drat!  There goes my whole idea of MOINK Balls.  Wait a minute - what about ground pork?  I'm already wrapping these bad boys in bacon so obviously, I'm down with pork.  Would they be called OINK Balls?  POINK just sounds funner.....  So.....

Ground Pork - 2.5lbs
Bacon - Thick Cut - 1lb
Seasoning - whatever you think would work!
I added about 6 table spoons of Kirkland (Costco) Sweet Mesquite Seasoning to the ground pork.  You can use whatever meatball recipe you have but I was keeping it simple.  No bread crumbs, no eggs, nothing special.  I was worried that the meatballs would fall apart but they didn't.  This worked fine.

 I tried to form the meatballs into 1oz balls but they kept getting bigger as I went so instead of fighting my urge, I rolled with it.  They ended up around 2oz I'm guessing - a little bigger than golf balls.
 I cut the bacon pack in half and wrapped each meatball with a 1/2 piece of bacon.

Upon further inspection, you can see that I did not mix the Sweet Mesquite into the ground pork very well.  Next time I promise to do better.
 I thought adding another layer of flavor wouldn't hurt - since I didn't mix the Sweet Mesquite in too well, this would add another pop of flavor - Simply Marvelous Cherry Rub.  Steph from Simply Marvelous doesn't pay me (he should) for these comments so straight from my heart - buy his products!  You will NOT be disappointed!  All of his dry rubs are - well - Simply Marvelous!

 I put a healthy amount of the Cherry rub on each POINK Ball - then I flipped them over for another coat.

 Don't be shy with the dry rub!

I smoked the POINK Balls on my Royall 3000 Pellet Grill @ 225 F.

Disclaimer - Meat, Inc. BBQ Team is proudly sponsored by Royall!

No Royall Pellet Grill yet?  You can cook these on any direct heat source: charcoal, gas grill, or even in the oven!

You might have noticed that I had a few pieces of bacon left over.  If I had made the meatballs the correct size, this probably wouldn't have happened - BUT - I'm not going to throw away the tastiest meat known to man.  Let's make a little Pig Candy!  Basically sprinkled some more Cherry Rub on both sides and put the strips of bacon on the grate.

After about 1 hour, I flipped all the POINK balls over.  Not really needed since I was cooking indirect but it's nice to see the grate marks on the meat.  After 1 hour the internal temp was about 145F.

After 2 hours or so, the internal temp was around 180F.  Overcooked for pork for sure but I wanted to make sure the bacon was completely done.  I was mostly determining the "doneness" by the look of the bacon but I like to take the temperature of my ......um..... I like to verify the temp of my .....er.... I have to see if the meat is done.

I plated the POINK Balls up with some Napa Cabbage Slaw topped with Pig Candy and a side of pork chops.  Now, that's a meal!

 I was a little worried that the pork meatball would be dry since the internal temp was so high but it was super juicy!  You can see the smoke ring penetrated almost all the way to the center.  You can also see my poor job if spice distribution in the ground pork but - I can't beat myself up forever!

Let's eat!