Expert BBQ Tips and Tricks From Grate TV’s Bill West [Interview]
"If it's a first-time thing, you just want to remember it's going to be a learning experience," said West. "The first thing you want to do is make sure you're having fun with it. Don't get too serious."
West has a few ideas for a competition like the Jones Bros. Marine Cabin Fever BBQ Contest, where the main categories are chicken thighs, pork ribs and brisket.
"People use chicken thighs a lot. The good news is it's affordable, and it's really hard to mess up. A little secret is to try and create bite-through chicken skin, which is a process of peeling off the skin, you actually scrape some of the fat from underneath the skin, and you re-apply it." [See video below]
"For ribs, make sure you peel off the membrane on the back. You don't want it officially fall-off-the-bone, just a little bit less than fall-off-the-bone. You take a bite and it gives a gentle tug, that's what the judges look for in competition."
"For brisket, you've just got to give it a good, long cook. Don't open the lid too much on your cooker. Let it cook. If you keep opening up the lid, peeking at it, showing off the meat, you lose about 15 minutes of cook time every time you open that lid."
According to West, contestants usually only use a very light layer of sauce to create a glaze. "I think the general rule is that judges like sweet. Even some of the mainstream sauces, like Kraft, it clicks in the judges' brains, and they kind of like that taste they grew up with."
BarbecueTricks.com has a BBQ Competitions Checklist that's probably worth checking out, especially if you're a first-time competitor. "Some big organizations require a fire extinguisher. Of course you're going to want to have some way to keep all the stuff clean and sanitary. Make sure you have all the dish washing things you need out there."
One final, important piece of advice from West: "If you want to win, don't get too drunk!"