Last weekend I had a chance to learn the ins and outs of competition Barbecue from some experts in the field. Carolina Pitmasters in Summerville SC have created a really cool once a year class to get everyone from the Low Country geared up for BBQ season. It’s a total good ole boy seminar and tons o’ fun. Over two laid back days the teachers – guys like expert Jack Waiboer and Russ Cornette (local creator-of Smokin’ Coles Sauces and Rubs) walk through the minutia of competing in BBQ championships like next week’s Palmetto BBQ and Brew Feston Edisto.
The class took place on the lake next to a picture perfect lake by Dorchester Shrine Club. Weather was perfect and everyone was willing to talk. Believe it or not cookers traveled from as far away as Chicago and Canada for the session. It’s international!
Timing of the class was perfect for me as I’m tackling “Whole Hog” for the fist time at Edisto and that, as Waiboer put it, is “the Mount Everest o competition barbecue.” Other topics covered were chicken, ribs, shoulder, and overall judging with some enlightening advice from actual SCBA (that’s South Carolina BBQ Association) judges. Did I learn any real bbq secrets? I Think so… there were still a few gems that were held back but I did some really valuable tips that you can only find out from a lot of trial and error (or a class such as this).I learned that the key to the BBQ judges heart is “bark” – that charred caramelized shell of goodness shingled on the outside of really good barbecue. I learned that pork has a moment in the cooking process called the “stall” that can be torture to a cook in a hurry. The slow increase in internal temperature of the meat stalls… and stops rising for a while. It will rise again. Just takes time and patience. Opening the lid just slows things down even more!I also learned turning in a hot box to the judges will help your scores… so try to be either one of the first in or one of the last in. There’s typically a ten minute turn in window.