The fat should not be in large pockets but evenly distributed over the entire area of each rib. Do not buy racks that have shiners, which are bones showing on the top part of the meat denoting a bad trim job by the packing plant.
Make sure the bones go down in a straight line within the meat and don’t curve at the end, making the cutting and final presentation difficult.
Tenderloin / Butts
Pork Tenderloin or Butt (4:50 - 5pm Turn In)
The tenderloin is muscle cut from the spine of the pig and is very lean and tender. Look for white fat and pink meat.
Buy two 1lb 8oz packages (1 ½ lbs) of unseasoned center cut loin meat, which will be used for slices in the pork butt / tenderloin box.
Buy bone-in butts (butts are the bottom half of a pork shoulder) that are red in color and have white marbling.
Look for a large money muscle, which is the best part of the butt. It is the striped muscle at the opposite end from the bone, right in front.
Make sure there are no blood pockets or bone fragments on the pork butt.
Pork Injection Recipes
Here are three very good pork injection recipes:
Example 7-8lb Pork Butts Cooking Schedule (Overnight Prep, 13 Hour Cook)
Right after set up - Prep the pork butts. Place them in a
- Preheat your smoker to 240°. Apply rub to the butts.
- Place the meat in the smoker fat side down.
Foil if the butts have a good bark (around 160°). Return butts to smoker.
Check for tenderness. Foil when done and place in hot box to rest.
Heat your sauce on the smoker.
Un-foil pork butts and add to smoker fat side down. Paint butts with
Remove butts and sauce from smoker.
Separate the money muscle and chunks by the bone. Paint both with sauce and
some rub before placing in the turn in box.
Listen to the BBQ Central Show
All Things BBQ Competition Pork Butt Video
Turn in Boxes
Briskets can be either flats or whole packers.
No other type of beef is acceptable in the brisket
Brisket (5:20 - 5:30pm Turn In)
Buy 12lb Choice packer briskets that are kind of flexible and have a straight grain line. The straight grain line helps keep the final cutting of the meat easier; the grain doesn’t drift and the knife adjustments are kept to a minimum.
If the brisket isn't fresh and the package isn’t labeled with a meat grade, the cut is probably “Standard” which is not good enough for contests.
- Pros of the 12lb briskets; You can make burnt ends from the point meat of the
- Cons of the 12lb briskets; It can take a LONG time to cook.
Brisket Injection Recipes
Here are three very good brisket injection recipes:
Example Beef Brisket Cooking Schedule (Overnight Prep, 15 Hour Cook)
Right after set up - Prep the briskets. Place them in a cooler.
- Preheat your smoker to 240°.
- Apply the rub to the briskets and set them aside.
- Squish each brisket together to make a thicker brisket.
Cook the briskets fat side down.
- Check temps
Around 11:30am - Double wrap the briskets in foil if they have reached 170°.
Around 2:30pm - Check for tenderness around 197°.
Place them in a hot box to rest.
- Heat the smoker to 300°.
- Separate points from flats. Add points to smoker, flats back in
- Heat your sauce on the smoker.
- Remove flats from bag, taste; add best one to smoker, paint
Remove meat from smoker, slice flats and points, paint both with sauce.
Listen to the BBQ Central Brisket Roundtable.
Things BBQ Competition Brisket Video
Brisket Turn in Boxes
Entries will be judged on three criteria: Appearance, Tenderness, and Taste.
People eat with their eyes first so all your food needs to look amazing. Your food also needs to look moist, not dry, and you should show off the smoke ring in the turn in box.
- Use au jus from the meat when possible. Mix 1 cup of au
jus with 1 Tablespoon of sauce.
- Always use sauce. Strive for a semitransparent coat.
- Fill the box with meat. Judges like a full box, not a skimpy one.
- Always use garnish.
- Use a damp paper towel to clean the turn-in box of all debris, including stray sauce.
Garnish in the Box
In KCBS competitions competitors have the option of turning in a box
either with or without garnish. The top teams are separated by presentation
scores since they already nailed taste and tenderness. The turn in box
should appear over the top fabulous, as everyone eats with their eyes first
and then decides (before eating) if the food presented to them looks
The best scoring garnish presentation over the years has been the
"putting green" of parsley. It is simple and effective for presentation.
A “Putting Green” box places an emphasis on the garnish, which allows you
to display the meat anywhere in the box on a bed of parsley. This style of
presentation is time consuming but it ranks very high with judges. Teams
also need to purchase a LOT of parsley to accomplish four boxes and have
some parsley left over, just in case you need it.
- Start trimming parsley around 8am in the morning.
Leave a ½” stem on each piece.
- Fill the box with parsley, putting the stems down,
creating a tight surface.
- Add pieces until the box resembles a putting green.
Judges expect the meat to be cooked to the perfect degree of doneness, be tender and juicy. The meat should not be undercooked and tough nor should it be overcooked and too
tender. Perfectly cooked meat will have a great “mouth feel”; it feels just right in your mouth.
- Sausage is safe to eat by FDA standards at 165°
- One bite of rib meat should easily pull away from the bone when bitten,
the rest of the meat should stay put.
- Pork should pull apart easily, but should not disintegrate in your mouth.
- Brisket slices should come apart with a slight tug but
not fall apart in your hand.
KCBS does not instruct judges how to score taste, it is just the judge’s opinion
how the meat tastes to them at that instant, without judging it against
other entries on their mat.
If your not sure what judges are looking for... ask your neighbors or ask
someone who has won before. The barbecue community is more than happy to
share information. Feel free to ask
Jake any questions you have
regarding competition barbecue.
Feel free to download this content and use it to your advantage.
You can find more info regarding competition barbecue from these locations.
The BBQ Central Radio Show
We can't stress enough how good this show is for barbecue information. You can watch the live stream every Tuesday night or subscribe to the podcast and listen to BBQ pros on your
tablet or mobile device.
Free info at your fingertips, all on the web.
You can borrow these from a local library or buy them from your preferred book retailer:
- Smokin with Myron Mixon by Myron Mixon
- Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book by Chris Lilly
- Smokin' in the Boys' Room by Melissa Cookston
- Wicked Good Barbecue by Chris Hart and Andy Husbands
- Peace, Love, and BBQ by Mike and Amy Mills
- Secrets to Smoking on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker
by Bill Gillespie
- Grill on Grill Competition BBQ by Ryan Amys
- Smoke & Spice by Cheryl and Bill Jamison
- Dr. BBQ's Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook by Ray Lampe
- Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue by Paul Kirk