With 15 competitions and an incredible 2-week break behind us, we’re headed into the last 10 competitions of The American Freakage Tour. And depending on how we score, every single one of these comps could count toward Team of the Year points.
As it stands right now, we’ve had nine Top-10 chicken calls, nine Top-10 brisket calls, seven Top-10 rib calls and one lonely Top-10 p❤rk call. In the mix were three First Place calls (two for Ribs and one in Chicken) and 1 RGC.
As of this writing, we’re #78 out of 2,482 in the international KCBS standings. But still, we can do better.
So as we head into the second half of our season, I’m feeling a strange blend of both urgency and zen. Urgency in that we’ve got to get points on the board with all 4 meats, especially our dear p❤rk. And zen in the sense that we just need to run our playbook and focus, because we totally got this!
I think the two-week break from competition BBQ will end up helping our game. Competition BBQ just wasn’t at the forefront of my brain, despite the 18 racks of ribs and 50 pieces of chicken that we trimmed for upcoming contests and the 1,036 pounds of charcoal we stacked up for the rest of the year. I really needed that mental break.
Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t take a vacation from BBQ altogether. In fact, we busted out Big Earl -- our Jambo Backyard -- for our Block Party After Party and served up some killer brisket burgers. I’d forgotten what a completely different cooking experience an offset is, not to mention the capacity. Plus that Jambo is badass. It just looks cool sitting in the front yard surrounded by friends and family.
And then we watched a friend of ours smoke some ribs for the first time ever, using Ugly Betty, our Pit Barrel Cooker. It’s satisfying to know that you helped turn someone on to the way of the smoke and to see them get into it. But the bigger surprise? It was literally the first time in a long while that I not only ate several ribs but actually took my time to savor them. (I’m the rib taste tester during competitions, so I’m pretty well sick of ribs after testing multiple bones off each rack week in and week out. Cry me a river, I know.)
But back to being zen…
I have to admit there was something nice about catching up on sleep, advancing a big consulting project for our client, enjoying the first tomatoes from our garden, surviving our epic neighborhood 4-day block party, doing a bunch of home improvement stuff plus squeezing in a drive-in movie and blissing out on our 14th wedding anniversary.
I’m feeling accomplished, yet refreshed. 100% ready to step back in and do what we do.
Next up: Ribberfest in Madison, IN, this weekend, where 60+ teams battle for BBQ glory. Freak ON!
Ann is Co-Founder and Pitmaster for Smoke Freaks. She loves being the Head Cook and and has fallen head over heels in love with Pork.