When Captain Kirk talks, you listen. “Mysteries simply are a feast for an active mind” said cultural icon and overall cool dude William Shatner. And this one was definitely a mystery.
2020 was shaping up to be pretty strange, with many pivots in our BBQ lives. We’ve been hard at work with Project Sea Wolf (coming soon), and occasionally participating in half-day competitions that we can do in a socially distant way.
The competition: Honor Q, a Mission Zero Hundred Hours event honoring veterans and first responders in remembrance of 9/11. And as the BBQ Pro Shop Factory Team, it was our first time cooking competition turkey.
The event was a Kansas City BBQ Society Competitor Series and Serve Turkey event, where the event provided each team with 4 racks of spare ribs and 2 turkey breasts. We love these “guinea pig”-style events: it’s a fun departure from the monotony of cooking the same 4 meats and it’s interesting because you don’t know much about what you’re going to get.
As Head Cook and Chief Control Freak, I like to know as much as I can about things. So my brain went wild with lots of possibilities…
Is the turkey bone-in or boneless?
Is it packaged in a brine solution or is it fresh?
Skin or no skin?
Small in size or ginormous?
Dead or alive lol?
With so many things outside of my control, I focused on the things that I was able to control:
Getting the cook just right
So of course you want to test cook a protein before you cook it for the first time in competition. That’s a given for Smoke Freaks. But did you know that fresh turkey breast is not available at most retailers until late October? That doesn’t do me much good with a competition on September 12...
Oh yeah. So that means the only turkey breast readily available was the kind in the frozen aisle, which is actually turkey breast parts packed in a net to yield a 3 pound breast.
So we experimented with different cooking techniques and turkey breast trimmed to various sizes. This gave us the baseline timelines for our competition cook that we would use depending on the size of the turkey breast we received.
Flavor profile & seasonings
One huge advantage was #FlavorTown, BBQ Pro Shop's line-up of rubs, sauces and seasonings, so we knew we’d find the right flavor profiles. As the BBQ Pro Shop Factory Team, we’re intimately familiar with these products, cooking extensively at home and on the competition circuit.
The goal: tender, juicy turkey that tasted like BBQ, not Thanksgiving dinner. After all, it was a #TurkeySmoke competition. So we went with good ole’ pecan wood for the smoke, trusty Simply Marvelous Pecan rub and decadent Blue’s Hog Raspberry Chipotle sauce.
This delivered a beautiful balance of salt, sweet, savory and heat but make no mistake, there was definitely a kick of flavor for an oh-so-fire-kissed awesome flavor experience.
Carving & presentation
17th Street BBQ dropped a few hints about carving and the idea of using thinner slices. We gave that a shot and are convinced it’s a better flavor experience versus those big slabs that often make their way onto your Thanksgiving plate.
In keeping with our classic flavors, we went with a traditional meat-centric presentation, after all it’s a meat contest. Keep it tidy, let the meat be the hero and make it shine!
Fast forward to comp day. The turkey was BEAUTIFUL. Those breasts were HUGE and honestly, we didn’t have as much time as we’d hoped between receiving our meat and turkey turn-in. So we did some trimming to yield pieces of varying sizes so that we had decent options when it was time to decide what to put in the box.
Turns out that Plan C, the smallest piece, was the clear winner. The judges agreed awarding us 1st Place and Turkey Champions! And with 3rd in Ribs, overall GRAND CHAMPIONS! There was howling!
Full recipe below … #FreakON