My husband Matt is an avid smoker, a couple of years ago he started with a big ugly drum smoker and has since progressed to a few different types. So I am no stranger to smoked meat, except for 9 months when I was pregnant and just the smell of it made me want to vomit. Thankfully the first thing he smoked post pregnancy was the best bit of brisket he’s ever cooked. As some of you know we’ve been trying to eat healthy lately (our monthly menu), so we started the day with 4.6km run/brisk walk (we fell 400m short of 5k). Then we left the baby at Grandma’s and headed off with Matt’s brother and sister-in-law.
Matt warned me coming into the competition that I needed to pace myself, everyone is hungry during the first round which is chicken and tend to eat too much meaning they are too full for the last beef round. I was told if I b*tch out I won’t be invited back haha (by him). So expectations set! We judged at the Mooloolabah BBQ Festival and the Australasian Barbecue Alliance were the judging authority at this judging event and most important trained us on how to judge BBQ well, so we learnt all about what to look for in a box, how it should be presented and many do’s and don’ts of the competition. The most important thing I took away from this training is that everyone spends a lot of money, time and energy attending this event and we need to judge with integrity and fairness, and respect the effort that’s gone into the products.
The first round was chicken handed in between 12:55 and 1:05, our table was lucky and scored 5 pieces of chicken. I think the first piece I had was the stand out the skin was perfect and didn’t pull off the piece it wasn’t took saucy and was nice and juicy. The last piece we had, had this amazing coated and fried chicken wing that was so so good, naturally they got an extra point for that. I did find some of the sauces washed out the chicken a little and nobody likes a face full of skin as you’re taking a bite. However the chicken was a strong start.
Lamb was up second handing in between 1:55 and 2:05, once again we were lucky to get 5 pieces. I was discussing my scores later with Matt because I noticed on one box I thought looked great he had scored it an average score. He pointed out all his reasons which were valid, as were mine… we ended the conversation on the fact that everyone has individual likes and things that appeal to them. This is why these competitions have so many judges because things tend to even themselves out. Lamb wasn’t my most favourite round, there were some tender pieces in front of me however some had some weird flavours!
Third up was pork ribs, Matt was so looking forward to this round, he loooves pork ribs and couldn’t wait to try them. Some had a great bite, but the flavour wasn’t there, some had a tough bite but great flavour, personally found some a little too sweet as well, but that’s my personal preference. I think if anything I could say sauce is good but don’t over do it, remember the star is the rib.
Last round of the day was beef, even to my amateur knowledge I found this around a little bit underwhelming. The first bit I tried looked good however it was tight. The second piece didn’t have as defined colours in the meat, but it was not as tight and little more tender, however I didn’t really like the flavour, the burnt ends on both of them were ‘meh’. The last two were beef ribs, including some beef cheek, which had a completely different texture to brisket, one had a more tenderness and flavour than the other, but again nothing was amazing.
At this point I just want to reiterate if you’re a competitor in this competition I know how much work and money you’ve put into this, I know you take a lot of pride in what you do and it can be so frustrating and crushing when something doesn’t go to plan. This is only my opinion.
One of the highlights of the day was meeting different people and discussing their BBQ knowledge. I’m very envious that I wasn’t at Port Macquarie to experience the chef’s choice submission of carrot cake and we met Tex from Smokin’ Gun Texas BBQ located in the Glass House Mountains. Matt has eaten there before and thought it was amazing, so if you’re looking for good BBQ on the far north side of Brisbane make sure you pay them a visit.
I’m definitely looking forward to judging again, I felt like a learnt a lot and we had a great day out.
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