Monday, September 21, 2009

American Bass Anglers BBQ Cookoff, Guntersville, AL

September 18-19, 2009

WARNING: This is going to be a long read! A lot has happend since last week in Cookeville so grab a beverage, relax, & let me tell you about my week!

The DoRagQ Gang was still flying high after last week's 1st place brisket & 7th place chicken resulting in a 7th overall. But hey you can't dewell on the good or the bad for too long. You gotta start getting ready for the next cook, & that's what we were focusing on early last week. First off I had a lot going on at the JOB! I am involved in a big project & would have software peeps in Tuesday thru Friday. This presented a problem as I was going to have to work on Friday & would not be able to head to Guntersville until they left. My first plan was to take Casa DoRag to Guntersville after work on Thursday. Richard & Gary could then arrive on Friday & start prepping then I would get there when I could. Then I realized that Guntersville is a 2 1/2 hour drive one way! Not good! After some head scratching, Gary volunteered to take Casa DoRag down Thursday afternoon & return that night. He would pick up Richard on the way down & Richard would stay the night & get things started Friday morning. Great idea! Except for the fact that we did not have a truck to pull Casa DoRag with since I needed my truck for work (company vehicle). Bummer! More head scratching......who do I know that has a truck big enough that would loan it to me & let Gary drive it? That's a tall order to fill but after a quick call to close friend Darryl Sage @ Total Preformance Racing Products we had a truck! So Gary headed out Thursday afternoon & picked Richard up on the way to Guntersville. He then helped Richard unload the cookers & headed back to Nashville. Meanwhile, Richard set up the cook site & settled in for the night. I worked & worried all day! When I got home I received an email notifying me that the KCBS has banned parsley as a garnish due to a recall in many states! So i called Gary & gave him the news that we had to find some Greenleaf lettuce in a hurry. Gary calmed me down & said he would take care of that Friday morning. All I had to do was pack my bag, go to work, & pick him up when I got off! Wow what a deal!

I did not sleep much Thursday night due to worring about work, lettuce, & Richard having to prep everything by himself. Don't get me wrong here, Richard is very capable I just felt bad that he was having to take up my slack! Richard assured me he did not mind but I still felt bad. My project at work was going great & it looked like my peeps would be heading out around 2:30 PM! So after their departure, Gary & I headed for Guntersville. It's alot farther than I thought! I wondered if we would ever get there! We finally arrived around 5:30 PM & I began to survey the site. Richard had done a great job getting everything setup. Due to the heavy rains the ABA improvised & made use of some asphalt instead of having us in the grass which would have turned into a mud-bogg! Good call ABA! I checked out the meat that Richard had prepped, finished the chicken, & had a few cold ones while Gary started making the lettuce boxes. We hadn't made a lettuce box in almost two years so he was a bit rusty but quickly got on a roll & had them finished! We then had a chance to visit with a few friends. Voncille & Joe of Smokey Mountian Smokers, Ron of Team Top Chick, Barry & Mike of Swiggin' Pig, Jen & Dan of Long Dawgs, Bobbie & Lee of Music City Pig Pals were just a few of the 19 pro teams competing. Several regulars were in nearby Decatur AL cooking @ Riverfest. Our friends Jan & Bill of Gooby's BBQ invited us for some dinner which consisted of babyback ribs, chicken, beans, & some Peach/Cherry Cobbler that Jan was practicing for the desert category. Sweet! It was delicious! After dinner we just chilled out & enjoyed the cool breeze off of Lake Guntersville. Nice! It had been a long day so we decided to turn in early after a few chugs of Apple Pie! Time to dream of winning a BBQ contest!
Richard & I woke up @ 4 AM to the sound of rain! Bummer! Judging from the forecast, we might as well get use to it. While never heavy it stayed with us all the way through turn-ins. We are very lucky that no winds accompanied it. We somehow managed to keep everything together & get everything cooked, boxed, & turned in without any major incident. As we normally do after turn in we sat down & discussed our product. We all thought chicken was about the normal, maybe a little bit spicy, ribs were ok but we thought we had cooked better ones. We tried a different but proven recepie this week on our pork as we had been in a slump. We all thought it was good but not sure if it would be good enough. Brisket was dead-on. But as you know it's all a crap shoot so we will see what happens when the "The Fat Lady Sings"!
My friend Lenny Morris from Birmingham drove up with his family to check out the DoRagQ Gang. We fed them some "Q" & enjoyed their company. What a nice surprise! Thanks for coming! After some socializing we packed up Casa DoRag & headed over to watch some of the ABA weigh in. If you have never seen this please check it out! The fish are amazing. Very cool to watch. I can see why tournament bass fishing is so popular!

It was finally time to hear the results. David Hagood of the ABA does a great job of doing the awards. They only call out the top five so sometimes its hard to guess where you are unless you get all top five calls. Team Top Chick was the first name to be called taking a 5th in chicken followed by Smokey Moutain Smokers, Warren County Pork Choppers, & Hd's BBQ taking 4th thru 2nd. I could not believe my ears when David said "and first place chicken, DoRagQ"! YEEEEEEHAAAAWWWWW we won chicken! Our first ever win in chicken! As we were getting our plaque & taking pictures David began to call out the top five in ribs starting with fifth place "DoRagQ"! Nice! Two calls! We were followed by Music City Pig Pals, Becky Sue's BBQ, & Team Top Chick taking 4th thru 2nd with Southern Stiles BBQ taking the win! Congrats! We were already grinning from ear to ear when David started the top five in pork. All we were hoping for here was a decent finish. Smelly Butts BBQ took 5th with Becky Sue's BBQ in 4th. Then David called "DoRagQ in 3rd"! Unbelievable! I was floored! Taking 2nd was Smokey Mountian Smokers & Warren County Pork Choppers taking the win! Congrats! Well to say my heart was a thumpin would be an understatment! I could hardly catch my breath when David started the brisket. In 5th would be our good friends Team Allegro followed by Jen & Dan of Long Dawgs/Harvest Moon in 4th. In 3rd was again Warren County Pork Choppers & in 2nd Team Top Chick. At this point I am thinking, ok maybe we are 6th thru 10th, that would be ok. Still a great finish right? Right untill I hear David say "DoRagQ first in brisket"! OMG...... Un-freeking-believable! For the 2nd week in a row we took top honors in brisket! After a quick interview on stage, some picture, & lots of pats on the back as we made our way back to our seats. My heart was really thumping now. I don't remember who it was that came over & said "you got this one" did it really dawn on me that we have a chance to win our first GC. Holy Crap now I am really nervous. David announced the Reserve Grand Champion was Warren County Pork Choppers! What a great finish for them. They are from Bowling Green, KY & I think they are new to the circut. They must cook some good BBQ. We need to get to know them better! Congrats on RGC. Ok, now it really hit me, I remember Lee McWright, Joe Amore, Ron Montgomery, & my good friend Dan Watson all coming over & offering their congradulations! Was this really gonna happen? All I could do was lower my head, close my eyes, & wait for David to say "The Grand Champion of the Guntersville Alabama American Bass Anglers Association BBQ Cookoff is ........DoRagQ!" Those were the longest 15 words in the entire english language. OMG!!!!!!! I had my sunglasses on (on a cloudy day) but behind them were tears. Hell yes I cried, so did Gary & Richard! I was trying to take it slow & enjoy every second cuz your first GC only happens once & I wanted to savor the moment but it all happens so fast! I know David asked me some questions, I don't really know what I said or if those there understood what I said but I hope I thanked all those who have helped the DoRagQ Gang find their way in the world of competitive BBQ. Bobbie & Lee McWright of Music City Pig Pals, Voncille & Joe Amore of Smokey Moutain Smokers, Linda & JC Gibson of JC's Pit Crew, Barry & Mike Johnson of Swiggin Pig, Debbie & Mike Davis of Lotta Bull, Kevin Bevington of, Brenda & Terry Buchannan of High on the Hawg, & Jen & Dan Watson of Long Dawgs/Harvest Moon. You all have given us advice & taught us. Thank you so much! You all have a part of this GC! Thanks to Mark Walker. Your support made it possible for us to compete in the ABA contests. Thanks so much!

There are two people who I would not & could not do this without. My friends Gary Lacky & Richard Finley. I have said it before but you are the "Do" in DoRagQ. Thank you so much for being a huge part of this. I hope you will cook BBQ with me for a long long time! Thanks to Jack "Shotgun Shorty" Rife who taught me how to cook brisket, drink beer, & cuss! I'll be making that trip soon to visit & have a cold one with you in Texas. I love you Gramps!
As I finish this entry, I think back to the first contest we did in 2006. Jeff Edwards & I drank way to much, partied way to long, & did'nt even bring pork or chicken to cook but we didn't finish last & we had a hell of a time. I remember Gary & I sittin under a EZ-Up in Benton KY in 2007 with wet, cold feet. I remember the 100+ heat in the field at the Wilson County Fair in Lebanon. Man what a great time we have had & we have made some great friends along the way! I am not going to apologize for all the thanks I have given here. All those mentioned have not only helped DoRagQ but many others. I hope someday I can help some new (or old) team win their first Grand Champion. I just hope it ain't one that we are cookin! So enough of this mushy crap, we gotta get ready to head to Florence next weekend for the 4th ABA BBQ Cookoff! I hope we don't make anybody sick with our BBQ! See you there! I'll have a DoRag on my head & a beer in my hand!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cookeville Cookoff

September 11-12, 2009

The Cookeville Cookoff has alway been one of our favorites. In 2007 we got two calls & finished 4th & in 2008 we got a 4th in brisket & bombed in everything else. But that's not why it is one of our favorites. There are several reasons, & the first is Tony Stone! What a great ambassador to BBQ! Tony is one of those special people that after talking to him for five minutes, you feel that you have known him for years. He is always smiling & has an encouraging word or two when things aren't going well. Thanks Tony for all the hard work & dedication that you & your family have put in to make the Cookeville Cookoff one of the best around these parts. The second reason we like the Cookeville Cookeoff so much is that there is an abundance of music, crafts, & vendors. A real street festival atmosphere. The third reason is the people! The locals really come out & support the festival. Judging by the length of the lines at the BBQ vendors they really love to eat BBQ!

After our last two contests our goal in Cookeville was to get back on track. We have been somewhat in a slump! Richard, Gary, & I loaded up Casa DoRag & headed out early Friday morning. After a quick stop for breakfast we arrived in Cookeville around 8 AM. We found Tony & he pointed out our spot. We were a little early and many of the teams had not arrived yet. We quickly got set up & tracked down the "Meat Inspector". With that out of the way Richard & I started prepping while Gary caught a cat-nap! During prep the Teams began to arrive. High on the Hawg pulled in next to us, while Shadetree Cooks, Latenight Whiskey Smokers, Blindog's BBQ Gang, & Light My Fire were down the way. Team Allegro, Jiggy Piggy, Music City Pig Pals, Lotta Bull, & also had set up camp. Seems the whole BBQ family was once again "In Da House"! After finishing prep we were getting a bit hungry & headed over to have some lunch with Brenda & Buck of High on the Hawg, Mark of BBQTV, & Joe of Joebez Blazzin' Butts & Wings. I can't remember the name of the place we had lunch at but the prime rib sandwich was very tastee & the service was excellent. After lunch we visited with the McWrights. Bobbie & Lee befriended us early on offered their help & guidance when we did not have a clue how to do this contest thang! They are truly very special people to us. They recently won their way into "The Jack"! We are so excited for them! I am hoping they will let me hang out with them at "The Jack"! Very Cool! After some visiting & some of Lee's famous Bloody Marys we headed back over to Casa DoRag to prep for our regular Friday night ritual of smoked pork chops, Texas jalapeno sausage, baked potatoes, salad, & ABTs (Atomic Buffalo Turds). We barley got dinner prepped when it was time for the Cook's Meeting! Tony was recognized for starting this contest 20 years ago & growing it into one of the premiere contest in the southeast! Thanks Tony we appreciate you efforts!
After the Cook's meeting was over we began to focus on dinner! High on the Hawg brought the smoked-baked potatoes, Mark & Karen of BBQTV brought a great salad & dressing, while the DoRaggers provided the pork chops, Texas sausage, & ABTs. What a feast! We had just finished dinner & were enjoying the crowd when we felt a drop or two of rain! Before you knew it we were scrambling to get everything put up & heading for dry ground. Linda Gould & Tana Shupe found themselves huddled up under the awning with the rest of us trying to keep dry for over an hour. When the rain finally slowed the crowds & music disappeared leaving us BBQers to ourselves. So we have a nip or two of Apple Pie & called it a night. Very unusual for the DoRag Gang to be in bed @ 10:30 PM! We must be getting soft in our old age! Saturday brought cloudy but dry weather. We had a good nights sleep & were ready to get with it! Gary had made some amazing boxes & we couldn't wait to fill them full for turn in. Our chicken looked great, the ribs were right on track, pork.....well its pork....& our brisket was again amazing. But if you remember at College Grove we felt similar about our product but the judges did not! We did not get a single call. So it's a crap shoot! Again we did the best we could do & if that's all we leave with then....that's all we leave with! By awards time the sun had chased the clouds away & it was a beautiful day as we began to congregate at the main stage. The bands had been kickin out some great tunes & the crowds had picked up where they left off Friday night. So its time to hear the good, bad, & ugly! We didn't have to wait long as we got a 7th place call in chicken! Congrats to Lotta Bull for taking the win. We didn't hear our name called as Team Allegro took 1st in ribs. No DoRagQ called for pork either! Congrats again to Mike & Debbie Davis as Lotta Bull took the win in Pork. Richard & I looked at each other & we both just shook our heads as the announcer began calling brisket. 10th place Music City Pig Pals, 9th Chicago Smoke, 8th Team Allegro, 7th Smokin' Triggers, 6th Senic City Smokers, 5th Governor's BBQ, 4th J-Mack Cookers, 3rd Adam's Rib, 2nd the Algood Bar-B-Q Pit. I was thinking how could the Judges not have liked the brisket? It was one of the best we have ever cooked! Ever! Really!
The announcer then said "from Nashville Tennessee", I was thinking who else besides us if from Nashville? The answer was no-one! First Place Brisket goes to DoRagQ! HOLY COW! WE WON BRISKET! Finally! I had almost forgot about the overall as the announcer began listing the top 10. We placed 7th overall! With the GC going to (for the 2nd time this year) TEAM ALLEGRO & Mike & Melinda of J-Mack cookers taking the RGC! Congrats!

After the awards we had to wait a few minutes for other teams to pull out so we could hook up so I had a few minutes to collect my thoughts before the drive home. I was having a cold one & thinking about the brisket win. Winning brisket means a lot to me because that is what my Grandfather taught me how to cook many years ago when I was growing up in Texas. Many of you know the story so I won't bore you with it again but I gotta thank "Shotgun Shorty" for teaching me how to BBQ (& drink beer & cuss). He most likley won't admit it but I think he's gonna be proud of me when I tell him.

Another great weekend with my BBQ Family. We had a respectable finish & we won FRICKIN BRISKET! A much needed shot in the arm for the DoRagQ Gang as we continue our stretch of 6 weekends in a row of contests. Next week another American Bass Anglers BBQ Contest in Guntersville Alabama. Hopefully we can remember what we did right & duplicate it. But if we don' least we are cooking BBQ right? Come see us & if your are at the Titan's games we tailgate at the LimeLight across from the stadium. Chances are we will be having left-over BBQ so come & join us! Until then....Go Vols, Go Titans, thanks Grampo! I love you!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pig'n in the Grove!

September 4-5, 2009
College Grove, TN
About 90 minutes South of Nashville is the sleeply little community of College Grove. It is so small they don't even have a WallyWorld! But that's what makes College Grove appealing, it truly is a small town. Everybody seems to know everybody & most are related! Rolling hills of green vegetation surround you as you navigate the winding roads of Williamson County. When word got out about a KCBS sanctioned contest, the DoRagQ Gang made plans to be there. We made plans to drop Casa DoRag at the site on Thursday so Richard & Gary could get things going on Friday morning since I had to be at the J O B most of the day on Friday. Since it was close to Nashville I could get off work @ be there within an hour. Several Teams were planning on arriving on Thursday & head over to Lynchburg for the Jack drawing. Very cool! Good luck to those who have a chance in the drawing.

As Friday arrived, Richard arrived at Casa DoRag early & Gary was not far behind him. They got through meat inspection & settled in to prepping. I arrived late afternoon & got caught up on the day's activities over a few cold ones. I was amazed at the number & quality of entries. The last I heard there was 18-20 teams. Seems Donna & Joe did a great job promoting & ended up with 29 teams! Many of the regulars were in attendance such as High on the Hawg, Big River, Butts Bellies, & Buddies, Smokey Mountain Smokers, Long Dawgs, Get'n Piggy With It, Team Allegro, Delta Smoke, Music City Pig Pals, Big & Twig, Light My Fire, & The Pit Crew to name a few. I also noticed a few unfamiliar teams like Pyro Chef's & 9 Toes BBQ (cool name)! It was good to see our BBQ Family & meet some new peeps too! Friday after the cook's meeting were were treated to hamburgers, hot dogs, beans, & slaw which meant we did not have to cook our supper! Cool! We commenced to socializin & recreational drinkin! During the week I had made up a fresh batch of Apple Pie & everyone wanted to give it a try. Pretty good stuff but will be better with age! The evening we quiet by DoRag standards. We chatted with Jimmy Tolen of Butts, Bellies, & Buddies, & Jeff of Big & Twig & turned in way before the clock struck midnight.

After a good 4 hours of sleep, Richard & I were up getting chicken & ribs ready to put on the FE100. As the sun came up it looked like we were in for a glorious day of BBQ! We began to notice some very cool cars & truck starting to arrive for the car show. Vetts, Chevelles, Mustangs, & Mopars lined the perimeter of the park. There were some beautiful rides & the owners were every bit as passionate about their cars as we are about BBQ. Ok back the the "Q". Most everything went as planned although our brisket was stubborn & did not want to get up to temperature. We also decided to try a slightly different technique on our pulled pork. A word of advice, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT TRY SOMETHING NEW AT A CONTEST FOR THE FIRST TIME! That should give you a preview of our pork results! As we were putting on the finishing touches on our boxes we were treated to a summer shower by Mother Nature! You should have seen those Hot Rod Guys scramble! They sure cleared our fast!

After turn-in Gary, Richard, & I sat back with a cold one (or two) & discussed our product. We thought our chicken was as good or better than any we have cooked. Our ribs were almost as good as our 1st place ribs in Paris. Pork....well it was pork. But our brisket was amazing! WOW was what we all said as we tasted it. Even a competitor that sampled it said "it would make you pee in your pants"! I think that means it was good! Call or no call we put forth one of our best efforts to date. It's too bad the judges didn't see it the same way. After the "Fat Lady" was done singing we finished 13th in chicken, 18th in ribs, 24th in pork, & 11th in brisket with a 17th overall finish. I got to be honest, I was disappointed to say the least. I really thought we had some worthy food. For a split second I thought "Hell, I could be riding my Harley every weekend instead of working my ass off to cook for a bunch of SOBs that wouldn't know good BBQ if it was shoved down their throat"! But then the BBQ Gods spoke to me & reminded me why I do this.........because I love to freakin BBQ! Win, loose, or draw we put forth a great effort & I hope we can duplicate it (except for pork) next week in Cookeville.

Congratulations to the Allgood BBQ Pit Crew for taking 1st in chicken, Big & Twig for their 1st in ribs, Smokey Mountain Smokers for their 1st in pork, & Beckey Sue's BBQ for taking top prize in brisket. The overall GC went to Joe & Voncille of Smokey Mountain Smokers with the Allgood BBQ Pit Crew taking the RGC! Congrats! Other notables were Buck & Lou of High on the Hawg taking 3rd overall, Dan & Jen of Long Dawgs placing 4th, & Big & Twig finishing in 6th overall.

For a first year contest, I must say they were well organized, had good power & water, & had community support. A Great effort! Thanks Donna & Joe for making Pig'n in the Grove a huge success! We will defiantly be back next year. As for the DoRagQ Gang.....we are headin for Cookeville next week. Maybe we can figure out what we did right & do it again. Hopefully there might be some SOBs there who know good BBQ! Only kiddin :) We love judges! Really we do!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Music City BBQ!

When we read where there was going to be a new BBQ contest in Nashville, we were thrilled! After all, we live in Nashville & have many friends in the area. We also competed in our first contest in Nashville back in 2006 @ Opryland so we consider Nashville "Home Field". Well the Opryland contest went by the wayside as did it's replacement the CMA BBQ contest due to space limitations during CMA Fanfest so until the Music City BBQ Nashville was left without a contest. Then late spring we began to hear talk of a event planned for Riverfront Park! Sounded great & we wanted to be a part of it. Several things helped us decide to not compete at the 1st Annual Music City BBQ so we decided to be a Judge instead! It might be fun to be on the "other" side for a change. At least we could participate & see our BBQ family. The Music City contest would be a "Dual Sanctioned" event. Both Kansas City BBQ Society & Memphis Barbecue Network teams would be competing in their respective contests as well as some competing in in both! This was gonna be fun as I had never attended a MBN event.

As it turned out several KCBS teams were competing, Swiggin Pig, House of Q, Jiggy Piggy, Lotta Bull, Big & Twig, Gettin Piggy With It, & Jobeaz to name a few. We headed down on Friday night to check out what was goin on. Many of the teams did not recognize me in normal street clothes! I guess they are accustomed to my "Redneck Style of a DoRag & flip flops! After some socializing & explaining why the DoRagQ Gang was not competing & some great fixins by David of Gettin Piggy With It, we called it a night & headed home to get some rest.

Saturday morning we were told to be at the Judges meeting @ 9 AM. Richard Preston was the KCBS Rep. & he conducted the meeting. Judging would begin at 10 AM to accommodate the dual event. I could not wait to see & taste the contestant's offerings but I was a bit nervous as this was really my first judging experience since becoming a certified KCBS judge. I almost felt out of place! Fortunately there were several famialiar faces & after the Judges Oath I was ready to strap on the feed bag! It would prove to be a long long day as there was at least an hour between turn ins. In summary, I had some very good BBQ & some not so good BBQ! I tried my best not to compare it to what we turn in or what I like personally. It is not as easy as it sounds! This judging thing is hard work! I can say that from a cook's perspective I looked for what was right with the product & not so much as what was wrong with it. Oh I gave low scores where they were deserved but I was fair & when close, rounded up. After judging was completed we hung out & watched some of the MBN judging. That was very interesting! Two of my favorites were Jack's Old South & 10 Bones. Those teams really had their BBQ together. I watched the 10 Bones team during the on site judging of pork shoulder. Very polished & the shoulder looked amazing! I wanted to taste it so bad!

It was finally time for the awards. They were held on the stage @ Riverfront Park on the banks of the Cumberland River. Very scenic! In the chicken category, our friend Jobeaz took the win followed by Jiggy Piggy, The Pork U, House of Q, & Big & Twig! House of Q struck again in the rib category taking the win, followed by Jiggy Piggy, Jacks Old South, Bare Bones BBQ, & Jobeaz. House of Q was on a roll taking first in pork followed by Big & Twig, Swiggin Pig, Charcoal Cowboys, & Jiggy Piggy! In brisket, House of Q strikes yet again, followed by Big & Twig, Swiggin Pig, Jacks Old South, & Charcoal Cowboys. John & Rodney of House of Q almost swept all four categories, which has only been accomplished twice in KCBS competition! Wow what a finish for those guys. We all figured they had the overall win but it could be one of several for the runner up. Wen the dust cleared, House of Q took the GC with Jiggy Piggy taking the RGC! Swiggin Pig, Big & Twig, & Jacks Old South rounded out the top five! Congrats to all!

The MBN results found 10 Bones winning two of the three categories & placing 2nd in the third, taking the overall win! Congrats to 10 Bones & to all the other finalist which included Lotta Bull in ribs! Way to go Big Bull!
As we said our good byes & headed home, I was glad that we participated as judges & got a different perspective of the process. I would encourage every team to get certified & judge a few contests. By the same token I would encourage every judge to compete in a contest. I think both sides would have a better understanding of the challenges each has to overcome to produce & judge consistently. OK, next week its back on the contest trail as we head to Piggin in the Grove in College Grove Tennessee. Let's see if judging helps us or just totally screws us up!