This past Saturday, my husband and I had the pleasure of serving as judges for the fourth of five Porter’s BBQ Shootout Trailer Series competitions held at the Mesquite Tranquility RV park in Alpine. In each of the four previous competitions, $5,000 in cash prizes was awarded. The final competition will award the Grand Prizes of a $20,000 pay-out and a custom-built food trailer. Barbecuing is serious business.
Porter’s, our local grocery store in West Texas, includes Alpine, Andrews, Big Spring, Crane, Fort Davis, Marfa, Presidio and Van Horn locations. Jesse Salcido, event coordinator, said that Mr. Porter (as in THE Mr. Porter) likes to have these cookoffs in each store’s town as a way to get to know people and give back to the community. It’s not about profit, it’s about relationships. In the future, Marfa and Big Spring will be on the cookout list.
Nineteen teams were vying for part of the $5,000 payout and points in Alpine. In competition barbecue, teams accumulate points in every cook-off, and those points determine a score that enables them to move up in competitions. There were three categories in this cookoff: chicken, beef brisket and pork spare ribs. Alpine smelled amazing on Saturday.
Mr. Johns originally intended to be only my driver but ended up also being a judge. It was really nice to compare our impressions after it was over, rather than me just trying to explain what something tasted like to him, like I did with the last chili cook-off. Not to mention that I didn’t have to cook dinner when we got home. It was a winning situation.
Rules included no food photography (bummer for me), no discussion, no sounds of delight or disdain when sampling, using a new fork with every taste, and keeping your scorecard to yourself.
We had to cleanse our palate after every sample by eating grapes, cheese, crackers and drinking water. We gave a score from 1 to 10 to each entry – 1 being the lowest and 10 being the best. Every sample had a number on it. We had no clue what came from where.
Judging criteria for the meat included:
Aroma – Does it smell like barbecue?
Color – Overall, is it appealing to the eye?
Texture – Is it moist or dry, tender or tough?
Taste – How is the smoke taste, the spice taste, the overall palate appeal?
Overall – What is your overall impression?
After I rated all of the entries, I peeked at my husband’s scorecard (against the rules but I didn’t change any of my answers) and was surprised that we had the same rating for about half of the entries… the ones that were not close in range were drastically different. How did that happen?!
I gave one Perfect 10 and one Imperfect Two (sorry, whoever you were). I’m a tough judge. But I will say, there were more higher numbers than low numbers on my sauce-smeared scorecard when it was all said and done. I later found barbecue sauce on the inside of my shirt collar and on my sunglasses, and I’m not sure how that happened.
When I handed the Table Monitor my sticky scorecard and apologized for the mess, she just laughed and said that if it was clean, I wasn’t doing it right.
Have you ever counted how many bites a typical meal is made of? After judging 19 different barbecued chickens, I was too full to take another bite of anything else. Luckily, there were lots of judges on hand.
We spent the rest of the day visiting with our friends, the Dutchovers, who had branches of family competing in the cookoff. It was wonderful to have them all in one place at one time and is always a pleasure to spend time with the sweet family. If the name sounds familiar, Trae Dutchover is the regional manager for Porter’s and the Dutchovers were a founding family of Fort Davis. Five of the eldest siblings were there, with their grown children and the grandchildren, too.
The final competition will be in Andrews April 20-21, where they will have a $20,000 payout plus that fabulous custom-built 22-foot cooking/vending trailer (14-foot with an 8-foot porch) as the prizes.
For a listing of the winners, visit http://ibcabbq.org/results-and-scores/?id=2018-277
Check out the Facebook pages “Porter’s BBQ Shootout Trailer Series”, “Porter’s” and their website www.myporters.net for more.
Barbecue Chicken and Peach Kabobs with Bacon
Courtesy of the recipe section of www.myporters.net – it’s a terrific resource!
Prep Time: 15 Min.
Cook Time: 29 Min.
What you need:
* 1/4 c. your favorite barbecue sauce, divided
* 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 16 pieces
* 2 peaches, peeled, each cut into 8 pieces
* 8 slices bacon, cut crosswise in half
What to do:
- Heat grill to medium-high heat.
- Reserve 2 Tbsp. barbecue sauce. Stack 1 each chicken and peach piece; wrap with 1 bacon piece.
- Thread onto 4 skewers; brush with remaining barbecue sauce.
- Grill 12 to 14 min. or until chicken is done, brushing with reserved sauce for the last 2 min.
Printed with the permission of the Alpine Avalanche 🙂