Sweet Success at Swinetastic

Welcome to Frederick

Swinetastic_2013_020

Welcome to Frederick

If you’ve been following our chronicles you know that we’ve finished in the top 10 in 5 out of 6 contests this year yet we always seemed just on the cusp of a high finish with the brass ring being slightly out of our grasp. I decided Friday that we were either going to be “Zeros or Heroes” at Frederick; read on.

Arrival and setup went without incident.  Dennis and Don were onsite to get us in with Hillary and Todd due later. One of the nice things about Swinetastic is the large sites. The organizer was kind enough to switch our site assignment back close to where we were last year; up against the fence line where the tree line would afford us some protection.

Set up and cooking in Frederick

Set up and cooking in Frederick

As we were prepping and trimming I outlined my Zero or Hero plan to the team. Reactions were,,,,,interesting but everyone agreed that change was needed. We prepped, we trimmed and wondered where Todd was. Turns out that Todd hit the Friday traffic gremlin and what should have been a 4 hour drive turned into a 13 hour one!

Zero hour arrived and it was time to light the fires and do final prep. I was worried that the jet blast might wake the neighbors but the snoring from the next site almost overpowered the fire starter.

It's go time

It’s go time

Swinetastic_2013_015

Early morning prep

Chicken
Hillary had tinkered with the recipes a bit after Middletown and wanted to go a step further after our 170+ score at Beltway. While the taste was fine, I wasn’t really happy with the final chicken itself and the judges agreed with a score of 163.4286 and 23rd place. Not a good start.

Ribs
We’ve struggled with ribs all year always hovering in 150-160 score range. Zero to Hero time. A couple of major changes and poof! 4th place with a score of 169.7144 for our first call.

Swinetastic_2013_079

Ribs ready for slicing

Pork
We didn’t change the pork around but I struggled in the boxing phase. Let’s face it, the box was a hot mess. 18th place with and a score of  164.5712.

Brisket
Here we are again, with 63 teams anything was possible at this point but we needed a big brisket call. I was nervous because the point only yielded 8 good burnt ends and we had to eat one of these as a test. We took a big risk, boxed it up and sent it in.  Hero time! 1st place with a score of 176.0000Swinetastic_2013_106_creekstone

Brisket Trophy dressed in spiffy Creekstone Farms gear.

Overall
With only two calls and considering the competition we were figuring another top 10, maybe top five finish. This was driven home when Mark Gibbs of Checkered Flag 500 was called for reserve with 3 calls. We were stunned and thrilled when we were called as Grand Champion with a score of  673.7142.

Swinetastic_2013_094

Grand Champions – 2013 Swinetastic Festival

No. Todd and Dennis didn’t have “the operation” both had to depart due to pressing Father’s day commitments . Two of the Ravens cheerleaders stepped in for them. It felt great to finally break through the “top 5” barrier and be back in the Jack draw. A week off next week and then on to Winchester.

 

Swinetastic_2013_099

The Swag

 

Share

Beltway Bake-off

Beltway BBQ Showdown, 5/31- 6/1

Hot, damm hot. All weekend long the temps hovered just south of 100 degrees but at least it wasn’t raining sideways 1 inch / hour like last year. You can always tell the Hobo teams at a comp, they’re the ones that look like someone pushed them in a pool from June – August. At least we all had our cool vented gear from Under Armor and Happy Chef  to help combat the heat.

I arrived early to a) Beat the heat and b) get the same spot we had last year  and had most of the Death Star set up before Don and Dennis arrived.  Turned out I didn’t really need to get there all that early since they only had 25 teams this year.

This is one of those contests that gets no love. It’s a pretty well run event, the reps are top notch, the money is good and the current facility is very nice yet they struggle to get teams year after year. Granted the communication from the organizer isn’t the best and it was a gypsy event for a couple of years but it’s really settled down into a good time.

Set up at Beltway
Set up at Beltway

After a late cook’s meeting and getting all set up to do the “buck-a-bone” extra ribs, we all turn in and were ready to go in the morning.

 

The MABA Shot

The MABA Shot

Chicken
Our chicken seems to have fallen out of favor with the judges this year. Hillary tinkered with the recipes a bit after Middletown (yes, she’s been bitten by the bug) and we came out with our first 170+ in chicken this year with a score of 170.8572. Even with this score our chicken still finished out of the money with a 6th place call.

Ribs
This week we changed up our box presentation a bit going back to what was working last year. I thought we had a good rib cook and most of the judges agreed except for 2. We ended up 8th with a score of 164.0000 for our second call.

Beltway_BBQ_2013_032

Pork
Pork started out strong this year but has since been struggling, we eeked out an 11th finish with a score of  161.7142.

Butts ready to be pulled


Brisket


Here we are again, we need a big brisket call. This was the first of our hand selected Creekstones. and we were very pleased, The judges, not so much; 15th place with a score of 156.5712. Clearly something is missing from our brisket

Our sliced Creekstone Brisket

Our sliced Creekstone Brisket

Overall
Our efforts rewarded us with our  forth top 10 finish in as many weeks with a 8th place overall and a score of 653.1426, 28 points off the pace against a tough field. We’re cooking good but for some reason we just can’t get over the hump. It’s time to make a left turn.

 

 

 

 

 

Share

Mayhem in Middletown

Middletown Delaware, 5/17 – 5/18
We finished 4th here last year and seeing how it’s an auto draw to the Jack Daniels Invitational you know we’d come back (winning the free entry at the MABA annual meeting didn’t hurt), as did everyone else, so here we are all spiffy and ready to go.

The Whole Aporkalypse Now Crew
The Whole Aporkalypse Now Crew

Moss and crew run a flawless event so setting up and getting ready to cook were painless.

The view from the Ferris Wheel
The overview from the Ferris Wheel

We were in the same spot from last year close to all the amenities and the judge’s tent. How close were we? Well….

Nice being right next to the Judge's tent
Nice being right next to the Judge’s tent

Before we get to the meat of the matter I want to extend a special thank you and welcome to the newest full time Aporkalypser – My wife Hillary. She’s tolerated these events for the past couple of years but has now decided to jump in with both feet and I’m looking forward to her contribution.

Hillary cranking out turn in boxes
Hillary cranking out turn in boxes

Chicken
In an effort to boost our chicken score I decided to slightly alter our tried and true sauce recipe.  Sooner or later I’ll learn the “if it ain’t broke” rule. We came out with a score of 161.1428 and 14th place, not the best start.

Ribs
We thought the ribs were pretty much spot on this week. I ran into some issues with curved bones so we ended up with what I thought wasn’t the best looking box. We ended up 9th with a score of 162.2856 for our first call of the day

 

Working the Ribs

Working the Ribs

 

Pork
Pork continues to be up and down this year and this event was the wrong week for the bottom of the sine curve. 19th placewith a score of  159.4286.

Brisket
We haven’t had a brisket call all year and this time was no exception –  16th place with a score of 157.1430.

Overall
Our efforts rewarded us with our third top 10 finish in as many weeks with a 10th place overall and a score of 640.0000, 25 points off the pace against a tough field.

We seem to be sitting on the cusp of high finishes but just can’t quite get over the edge for some reason this year. We were all looking forward to the Memorial Day weekend off  then on to the Beltway BBQ Showdown in Ft. Washington, MD.

 

Share

Fredricksburg Follies

BBQ Jamboree in Fredricksburg, VA 5/10 – 5/11
Another first time at the event for us. I won free entries to this event twice, once in Kansas City and at the MABA meeting so I figured it was karma. Karma can be a cruel date. This was the first event for the “Deathstar” as it was deemed; our new 10×20 and 10×10 black Ez-Up setup

Deathstar_Fredricksburg

It’s so nice now working under a full width 10×20 and a 10×10 canopy. No more center seams to deal with.  Only down side; with all the sides on it’s really dark on the inside. Clearly some additional lighting is needed.

After pulling in and getting set up we had to deal with the local health department over the people’s choice category which was to be served onsite. Even though the health department can be overzealous at times I really enjoy doing and serving people’s choice food out of our site as it give us the opportunity to interact with the public and talk about us and our food. We as teams need to remember that part of what the public pays admission for at these events is the chance to see the BBQ teams that they see on TV or read about online. Teams need to step up a bit and help the organizers by being BBQ ambassadors not only for our selves, but to help these events continue. On to the competition.

Chicken
After our 15th place finish in Naptown I wanted to take a little more time and make sure that the chicken was cut and prepped with the precision that I thought got away from us in Naptown. This extra effort was rewarded by our score dropping one point to 165.1426. Even with this drop our chicken came in 10th and we were rewarded with our first call of the day.

Ribs
Our ribs had been doing pretty well but for some reason that wasn’t the case this week. In the cold light of day our ribs were probably a little overcooked. We ended up 16th with a score of 159.4286.

Pork
Still nervous from Salisbury but with a good call at Naptown we left the pork alone and were rewarded with a 7th place call and a score of  162.2858.

Brisket
Once again our hopes for a big finish were dependent on a big brisket call. Due to a shipping snafu our our competition Creekstones had still not arrived so I elected to cook a CAB brisket that I’d had kicking around in the freezer since October. We changed a few things up for this event and we clearly moved in the wrong direction. 24th place with a score of 153.7142.

Overall
Our efforts rewarded us with our second top 10 finish in as many weeks with a 9th place overall and a score of 640.5712, 20 points off the pace against a tough field. But wait, what happened with people’s choice?

People’s Choice
We had 4 butts ready to go for the people’s choice . A big thanks to Bill Petersen and Ed Clark who stopped down and pitched in to help serve the incredibly long line we developed.  We had two lines running and ended up serving out 50 lbs of pork in just under 45 minutes. It all happened so fast we didn’t even punch vote cards for the first 20 minutes. When we ran out of pork we still had a line over 100 yards long!

Anyway the bottom line was that we missed winning people’s choice by less than 15 votes coming in third.  At awards we discovered that the people’s choice wasn’t the usual $100 or $200 prize but $1,000!!! That’ll teach me to read the competitor’s package. Be warned for next year. We have the Beast and for $1,000 we’ll fill one side with pork butts.

Our three week marathon continued the next week at Middletown DE.

 

Share

Knocked around in Naptown

This was our first time at the Naptown Bar-B-Que and it’s a nice family friendly event held at the Ann Arundle  County Fairgrounds just outside of Annapolis. Work held me up a bit so the trailer didn’t roll in until after 4pm on Friday making us scramble a bit from the start. Even though it was May it was quite chilly overnight into Saturday morning.

DSC_0745

Chilly Don at Naptown

Chicken
After Salisbury we made a couple of small tweaks to the chicken but the results were almost the same; a score of 166.2856 which was only good for 15th place

Colleen Liked it!

Colleen Liked it!

Ribs
We were pretty happy with our ribs in Salisbury so in the best definition of insanity we changed nothing and hoped for different results. We were rewarded with a score of 163.4286 and an 8th place walk.

8th Place Ribs

8th Place Ribs

Pork
We had nowhere to go but up after our 98th place pork in Salisbury. We won pork in Young Harris so we elected to view Salisbury as an anomaly and keep thing where they were. This turned out to be the right move as we scored a 164.5716 and our second walk with an 8th place award.

8th Place Pork

8th Place Pork

Brisket
At this point we were hoping for a big brisket call to push us into the top 5 but alas, it was not to be. The judges clearly scoffed at our beefy effort with a score of 159.4282 good only for 21st place.

Overall
We ended up 9th overall out of 55 teams. Respectable, but clearly some things need to be adjusted.

The Next Day
If all this wasn’t enough we teamed up with Kit Rudd from Deguello BBQ to cook the judging class for 95 students. I was waxing a little nostalgic about missing the Big Apple BBQ this year but cooking for the judging class quickly cured me of that. Many thanks to my wife Hillary and the Nuse’s for helping out since we had every rack in The Beast full.

Next up up; Fredricksburg VA

 

 

 

Share

Slaughtered in Salisbury (almost drowned too)

“Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug” – Mark Knopfler

Before we get to the gruesome bits I’d like to thank and welcome our sponsors for 2013:
AN-2013-banner

Wusthof Trident of North America and Creekstone Farms. They have been very generous with us in pursuing the BBQ trail and I thank them.

Salisbury

What can I say: It rained, the wind howled and blew and it was COLD. It was all we could do to keep the shelters up and ourselves warm but we managed. Overall we thought we had a pretty good cook. Many thanks to new Aporkalypse Now Team member Don Wooten and the reliable Todd Sessa who traveled all the way from Long Island.

Our chicken continued to perform well for us as we gathered a 9th overall for our one and only call.
9th_Chicken_Salisbury_2013We all decided that the ribs were some of the better ribs we’ve turned in. Most of the judges agreed except for 2; one who gave us a 7 in taste and the other who gave us a 9-4-4! No comment card was provided so we have no idea what this judge found objectionable.

After finishing 1st in pork in Youngharris, GA.
1st_pork_Young_harris_2013I thought the pork was pretty well dialed in. A lot of the pork boxing issues  from last year had been resolved and I was looking forward to a continued strong score from that category. Not  today. The judges clearly found it lacking and told us so in no uncertain terms – 98th place. Again no comment cards so we’ll proceed as normal this week in Annapolis and hope that this anomaly doesn’t become a trend.
We had a monster (non-Creekstone) brisket that looked good yet when we cut the finished product was strangely lacking in flavor and had a bit of an odd texture.  The judges wavered around a bit and we ended up 29th in a very close field. Now that our Creekstones have arrived I’m looking forward to having the best beef to start with.

Thanks to our 98th place pork we ended up a middle of the pack 43rd overall. Not the best beginning to 2013 in the Mid Atlantic but there’s nothing to do but push on to the next event in Annapolis MD. Hope to see some of you there!

Share

2012 results

I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t kept this up. I’ll try to do better in 2013. 2012 was Aprokalypse Now’s 2nd full year of competition BBQ and the Kansas City BBQ Society results are out. We finished a respectable  77th out of 6303 teams overall in 2012. Not bad for our second full year competing.

Aporkalypse Now KCBS ToY 2012
Overall – 77th
Chicken – 34th
Ribs – 128th
Pork – 66th
Brisket – 113th

A huge thank you has to go out to the Aporkalypse Now team as well as our sponsor from last year – Wusthof.

2013 is already underway and there are some changes coming in the next couple of months. Stay tuned for our full2013 schedule as well as other announcements.

Share

Headin out to Edenton yeahhhhh, brother

Headin out to Edenton yeahhhhh, brother
We decided to triple up this year and cook the double contest in Edenton, NC the week after Salisbury. After a strong start we were looking for a little redemption and were curious how our food would fair in the South.

Dale and I headed out to Edenton (yeah,,, brother) on Thursday as to not miss the Seafood dinner put on by the organizer and to get a little jump on prep for the 1st event.  This is a very nice contest in a picturesque town right on the water. We setup, went to dinner and headed off to our accommodation for the night.

Friday came, and the contest was under way. We prepped and headed out in search of dinner and some rest before the early morning call. We found a great little local place – the Waterman’s grill; Great food and atmosphere, in fact so good we went back Saturday night. Don’t miss this if you’re in Edenton.

Hogfest I
Saturday came and we had a pretty good cook. We still weren’t real happy with the ribs, and the chicken was a little on the large side.

The meats
Chicken

We were coming off 5 top three calls in the last 5 events so we though the chicken was spot on.  The judges disagreed as we ended up 11th with a 163.4284. It’s interesting how very small changes yield big swings in scores.

Ribs
After our disappointing finish in Salisbury I went back to my original flavor profile. We cooked and once again we were disappointed with the overall texture and coloration of the ribs.  A score of a 158.8568 resulted in 15th place.

Pork
Pork was our only bright spot and our only call – 7th place with a score of 161.7142.

Brisket
After difficulty procuring briskets in March  we secured a large supply of decent sized briskets in time for this trip. We had a good brisket cook but it fell a little short at the judge’s table as we only managed a 162.8570 which came in at 11th.

Overall
Anyway after all was said and done we finished with a combined score of 646.8564 with was good enough for 8th place out of  33 teams, our worst showing since July of last year.

Hogfest II
On to Sunday after a furious prep Saturday after awards. The rain abated and it looked like Sunday was going to be a better day. Since we were back to back in the same location with a number of judges sure to return for day 2 I was determined to make some adjustments .

The meats
Chicken

I went with a different box arrangement and some seasoning changes for chicken looking for improvement but when we tasted it our faces fell. It was terrible. So terrible Dale threw the rest of it out while I walked the box. At this point we knew we were just cooking for categories but this is why the judges eat the food. We were stunned with a score of 172.0000 and a 2nd place chicken award.

Ribs
This time I went completely off the rails deciding to use a technique that I had thought about but never actually tried. The ribs came out picture perfect but we were still disappointed with the texture. I decided then that we would be switching rib brands after this event. All in all it was an improvement resulting in a 4th place call with a score of 166.8568

Pork
We did a rub change to the pork and basically turned in the same box as Saturday. The results were a slip to 12th pork with a 160.5714

Brisket
We did’nt change our brisket cook at all and finished close to the same spot with a 162.8572 resulting in an 8th place call.

Overall
With all the changes we only moved up one spot overall to 7th with a combined score of 662.2854. While our overall placement only changed a little. we were only 12 points off the leader pace on Sunday vs the 30 we were off on Saturday.

After finding another jewel of a restaurant right under the Rt 17 overpass we heading back home on Monday, tired but wiser.

 

Share

Porked in the Park

A new season, a new team member, new shirts, some new tweeks and some interesting results at Pork in the Park in Salisbury MD this past weekend.

First let me welcome Dale Lucas formerly of Pigs in Blankets as the newest member of the Aporkalypse Now crew. Dale has cooked with us on several occasions in the past and I look forward to his presence on the team this year.

2012 got off to an interesting start with the Friday festivities. We were planning on entering the Anything But category but I discovered that the butcher has miss-cut our short ribs on the bias so instead of 12 nice big ribs we had 12 little medallions. We decided to cook them anyway and if we got 6 good looking ones we’d turn them in, if not we’d have dinner: We had a really nice dinner.

The 4 meat event brought few changes from last year since we didn’t want to disturb the hot hand we ended 2011 on. One change I did make was to try and even out the rib sauce as it had exhibited some extreme heat on occasions – more about that later.

Saturday came and we had a good cook. We hit all the marks and were generally happy with everything. Not ecstatic with anything but not unhappy with anything either.

The meats
Chicken

Chicken was very good to us in 2011 finishing in the top three 7 out of 10 events and it didn’t disappoint us here. We scored 169.1428 points out of 180 possible which was good enough for 3rd place.

Ribs
After a strong start in 2011 with a winning rib entry at this event our ribs were a little on the inconsistent side, in fact our 6th place finish in ribs cost us the Grand Championship at Raystown. This year I decided to tone the intense flavor down just a bit by using a more middle of the road sauce. I made it, I field tested it and went with it. The Pork in the Park Judges HATED it, well, hate is a strong word but in an efforts to make our ribs more middle of the road I may have taken the exceptional right out of them as we received average marks in taste and ended up with a score of 145.7138 for 81st place. It’s back to what was a consistent top 10 flavor profile in ribs for us – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Pork
Our pork entry followed our 2011 methodology despite a couple of hiccups and we were rewarded with a 168.5714, good enough for another 3rd place trophy.

Brisket
Brisket is going to be a challenge this year as it’s apparent that good competition briskets are going to be hard to come by.  Despite that we earned a 161.1428 score and 13th place. I know we left points on the table  and we’ll correct that post haste.

Overall
First a small rant. I hate the new trend of organizers announcing all the results of a category except 1st place then holding the first place awards until the end. They think its suspenseful but in my opinion it’s just mean to the cooks.

Anyway after all was said and done we finished with a combined score of 644.5708 with was good enough for 4th place out of  113 teams.

This week it’s off to Edenton North Carolina for 2 full contests in one weekend (Friday / Saturday and Saturday/Sunday) we haven’t done that since the Royal and there will only be two of us so it’s going to be a marathon of will. After that, 3 weeks off (We’re skipping Naptown) and then off to Middletown Deleware.

Stop by and see us if you’re going to be in the area.

 

 


 

 

Share

The Aporkalypse Now 2012 Competition Schedule is Here

After spending the weekend looking at events in the region I’ve finally narrowed it down to a (semi) workable competition schedule.  A few may come and go, but for now this looks to be our route to 7 wins this year. As competitions and other events are confirmed they will be loaded to the calendar page.  Hope to see a few of our readers on the BBQ trail in 2012.

Competitions for 2012

April

20-21 Pork in the Park Salisbury, MD

27-29 Hog Fest in Historic Edenton I & II Edenton, NC

May

04-05 Naptown barBAYq Annapolis, MD

18-19 Middletown BBQ Cook-Off Middletown, DE

June

01-02 Beltway BBQ Showdown Upper Marlboro, MD (tentative)

15-16 Central MD Swinetastic BBQ Festival Frederick, MD

29-30 Covington Cork and Pork Festival Covington, VA (tentative)

July

27-28 Bluemont BBQ Bash & Blackberry Bonanza Bluemont, VA

August

10-11 MD State BBQ Bash Bel Air , MD (tentative)

17-19 Mountain Maryland Barbeque Cumberland, MD

September

07-08 Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour Laurel, MD

14-15 Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour (Regional) Chesapeake, VA (hopefully!)

October

05-06 Keystone Classic Barbeque Harrisburg, PA

12-13 Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour National Championship Bentonville, AR (with luck!)

26-27 Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue Lynchburg, TN (hopefully!)

Share