Sunday, November 24, 2019

2019 Smokin With Smithfield National Barbecue Championship

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  My travel expenses for this event were paid for by a representative of Smithfield.

In boxing, you will hear the term "Unified Champion."  That is because there are different sanctioning bodies - WBO, WBC, IBF, etc.  Each organization might have its own champion.  When things align, and the same person wins championships from the WBO, WBC, or IBF, that is referred to as a Unified Champion.

Over the past year, Smithfield created a unified championship across the BBQ sanctioning bodies when they established the Smokin' With Smithfield National Barbecue Championship, which was held in New Orleans last weekend.  I was lucky enough to be invited to tag along as part of the media team.  Here are scenes from this inaugural championship.

Bling from the 2019 Smokin' with Smithfield National Barbecue Championship
The event was held in New Orleans, so naturally, they had a Mardi Gras theme going on.

This unified championship started long before last weekend.
  • Two years ago, it began as an idea - a points chase across BBQ sanctioning bodies culminating in the top group going head to head in a "back-to-back-to-back" triple-contest.  
  • Last year, teams signed up at Smokin' With Smithfield and BBQData began tracking the points of the 370 registered teams.
  • After a full year of competitions, the top 24 teams were invited to the Smokin' With Smithfield National Barbecue Championship.
I loved that this contest didn't get into silly stuff that televised food competitions do, like mystery proteins and special challenges.  They kept it to traditional BBQ contest formats - who can cook the best chicken, pork ribs, pork, and brisket.

Another refreshing spin they did to level the playing field was that everyone was cooking with the same set of meats: 
  • Ribs and pork from Smithfield
  • Chicken and brisket from The Butcher Shoppe in Pensacola.
The organizers did their best to have evenly sized meats divided up into Yeti 65 coolers.  Then teams are drawn by a bingo-style ping-pong ball dispenser to determine who gets which cooler.  You can't get fairer than that.

All teams cooked the same meats - courtesy of Smithfield and The Butcher Shoppe.
It's a good thing these are heavy or I might have grabbed one and run off with it :)  The pork was provided by Smithfield and the brisket and chicken by The Butcher Shoppe.

Because of travel arrangements and work, a lot of the media team did not make it in until after Day 1 was in the books.  The 12 teams advancing on to the second round were:

Saturday, November 9, 2019

A Pimento Cheese Burger And BBQ Baked Beans

[FTC Standard Disclosure]  I received no compensation for this post.  Obviously, I benefit from the sale of my second book that is linked.

This past week, I got to spend time with my parents and siblings in my hometown. I have been teaching grilling classes, judging at BBQ contests, and other grilling events every weekend.  As fun as those are, the constant go, go, going on weekends can start to feel like a grind.  This week was a chance to recharge and stoke that inner fire.  

My parents were inbound from an all-day drive from the mountains, so my sister and I thought we would make them dinner.  Growing up, I always loved it when we had burgers on our grill that my dad had made from an abandoned beer keg.  My mom would often make her sweet and tangy BBQ baked beans.  So, Rhonda and I decided on burgers and BBQ beans, specifically, Pimento Cheese Burgers.

Pimento cheese burger and BBQ beans cooked on a Big Green Egg kamado grill
A backyard classic - burgers, bbq beans, and chips.

For the beans, we have Alexis' #1 Barbecue Beans recipe in The Offset Smoker Cookbook.  That is a spectacular recipe, and it won Alexis her first First Place at competitions.  But my mom varied her bean recipe all the time, and they were all good.  So Rhonda and I decided to wing it and just made this one from what we had on hand.

Baked BBQ Beans on the kamado grill featuring Bush's Beans
We happened to have some "seasoning bacon" from Rhonda's home-cured, home-smoked bacon.  That's the ends that you cut off to square the edges of the slab of bacon. Typically, we would use chopped smoked pork or brisket.
Tonight's BBQ Baked Beans

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Event: Scenic City Eggfest 2019

I have been on the run at BBQ contests and grilling festivals every weekend for weeks on end.  I've been traveling so much that I haven't been able to get my wrap-ups posted, so I'm playing catch up.

I travel around the country, going to various Eggfests, cooking, teaching classes, and judging.  But my home Eggfest is the Scenic City Eggfest.  It is my Eggfest for more reasons than just being close.
  • Elder's Ace Hardware, East Tennessee's leading BBQ/grill dealer, is the host.
  • I get the chance to hang out with the best Eggers in East Tennessee.
  • Food City, the grocery chain where I shop day-to-day, is the food sponsor. '
  • The proceeds benefit the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.  

Here are some photographs of the fun, food, and friendships that we shared at the 2019 Scenic City Eggfest.

2019 Scenic City Eggfest is held at The Commons near Chattanooga
The Scenic City Eggfest is held at The Commons, which is a gorgeous open-air public event center.  It is relatively new, has clean facilities, and has room for us to grow.

2019 Scenic City Eggfest
The covered event area is ideal because this is a rain or shine event. 

The Pizza Porta is a hot accessory for kamados like Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe.
Cortlandt Minnich was there, rocking the Pizza Porta.  Their team is always a popular booth because A) everyone loves pizza, and B) The Pizza Porta is an eye-catching accessory.