Jun 152017
 

This Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker (aka WSM) is a unique and rare smoker that I have been fortunate to be involved with. It was a special project of the owner of the The Virtual Weber Bullet – the best resource for the WSM on the Web – Chris Allingham. He wanted to assist the people in Florida who were affected by Hurricane Charley* that hit in 2004. You can read the story of his build here. This is real porcelain just like the original, but in blue. Once his project was complete he auctioned it off on eBay, and made a very generous donation to the Red Cross with the proceeds.

KCBS contest, Sept. 2-3, 2005. Kasihta Sand Town Festival, Cusseta GA

I took ownership of it on October 30, 2004. The winner of the auction was not interested in keeping it, he wanted it put to good use. I mentioned I could use it for cooking projects with the special ed kids I teach, so he delivered it to me at the Minneola Fall Fest, in Minneola FL. I was competing there in the Florida BBQ Association’s Florida State Championship. I used it with my students on a handful of cooks. I also competed with it once in Cusseta, GA, and once in Barnesville, GA,

After a few years I had a stickburner of my own and was using it most of the time with the kids. The WSM wasn’t getting much use. I asked my nephew if his Boy Scout troop could use it for camping etc. and of course the answer was yes. We agreed that if they no longer used it, the WSM would return to me. I knew it would be a part of WSM history, and I wanted to ensure it stayed alive. It was with his troop in Plant City FL for about 6-7 years. He eventually went off to college, so I asked about ol’ blue. I learned it had been retired from smoking duties and was parked behind his parent’s home outside. I rescued her about 2 years ago and she has been under my bbq shack staying out of the rain and sun since then.

For my project this summer I thought I would get her out and give her a thorough cleaning and sprucing up. With help and guidance from a fellow enthusiast, my project is complete. I think she is in great shape considering her age and history. The Two-Tone Blue is now ready for the next adventure, whatever that may be.

*Interestingly enough, we were hit by that hurricane , and also helped cook barbecue to aid those affected. 
   

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

 Posted by at 3:41 pm
Mar 272017
 

Last Q School was a sell out and some didn’t get in, so I’ve scheduled another class. With verbal commitments this one is already halfway to being sold out. Get your application in early to secure your spot. Click here to print one out.  >>  May 17 Q School Application

The location is the beautiful lakefront, behind the Boy’s and Girl’s Club in Winter Haven. Start time is noon Saturday and we end the day with a smoked prime rib supper. After that  there is social time at the lakefront with a bonfire for those who want to stick around. Start time Sunday morning is 7:30 and we go until we’re finished, which is usually 3:30 – 4pm.

You can read what people are saying about the class here. Class Reviews

You can mail a check to the address on the application. If you want to use a credit card you can use the PayPal dropdown button below. You do not have to have a PayPal account to use it.


Swamp Boys Q School



 Posted by at 9:45 pm
Mar 212017
 

Q School grads dominated awards in Bartow contest!

I am giving up a seat for any of my Q Schools in the future. The next class is being held May 6-7 in Winter Haven, FL behind the Boy’s Club. Click the PayPal link to make a donation of $25 for the Winter Haven Citrus Center Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs. Each $25 donation will earn you a chance in a drawing for a free seat in my class which is valued at $500. This will stay open until approximately $750 is raised for the kids. I will have a live Facebook drawing and notify the winner. I will give a check for 100% of money donated and will cover the PayPal fees. Thanks for helping the kids and good luck!

This drawing has happened, and congratulations to Keith Heald on winning the seat. A check for $750 will be given to the Boys Club. You guys, the Swamp Boys Nation, are the best!

 Posted by at 10:03 pm
Feb 282017
 

I am on the Cook Team Committee for the Florida BBQ Association (FBA). One of the key points of the FBA since day one was to be more “cooker friendly”. We were talking about updating our judging standards and getting teams and judges on the same page. The goal being that both groups agree on parameters used to judge tenderness and taste. I volunteered to try to put it into writing in easy to understand, common sense language. After a couple of revisions with the committee I am happy to say that our proposal was presented to the Board of Directors and was accepted and passed. It will now be a part of the Judge’s training, and hopefully help bring us all together with a unified understanding of what teams are striving for. Below is the accepted script.

This first paragraph in italics was left out I believe, but I still like it. EDIT: This first paragraph did in fact make it in.

It is our hope that our judges go to a contest with a positive mind set. Ideally they show up in a great mood because they are going to get to eat some fantastic food that the pitmasters have been working on to get just right for up to 24 hours. We prefer that positive thinking over the judge who arrives in a crabby mood and nitpicks each entry trying to find flaws, even if they don’t affect tenderness, taste, or appearance. Celebrate the good.

Taste: Taste should be pleasing and represent the meat that it is, because each meat has its own distinctive flavor; brisket should taste like beef etc.  The spices, rubs or sauces used should be flavor balanced so that they only complement as opposed to overwhelm the meat presented.  There should be no overpowering flavor of spices or sauce.

Tenderness:  Avoid using any tenderness indicators that may have been viewed on Television BBQ shows and then shared in the judge’s tent.  Such as the fold test with brisket or that the bone will turn white after biting ribs.  These expectations are nonsense and have little to do with tenderness.   Focus on the sample at hand and whether it has a pleasant eating experience.  Keep in mind, you are judging what is presented as opposed to what you think should be presented.


Chicken: sample the entry as presented.  Leave the skin in place, removing it will significantly alter the flavor and tenderness the pit master intended.  Take a bite, there is no need to dissect it.  The skin should bite through easily and the rest of the skin should still be in place.  The chicken meat should release easily from the sample and should have a tender and pleasant mouthfeel as well.  If it is chewy, rubbery, or mushy/too soft it is either undercooked or overcooked.  Tenderness should be based on mouthfeel and the chewing experience.

Ribs: Your bite should be from the middle of the rib and deep enough that your teeth gently come in contact with the bone.  Avoid biting the bone but bite to the bone.  The meat should release cleanly and easily from the bone, and there should be a relatively clean outline of where your bite was removed from the rest of the meat.  The rest of the rib meat should still be attached to the bone.  The mouth feel and chew should be a pleasant experience. 

Pork: Pork should be tender but not mushy.  If medallions are presented take a bite to check for tenderness.  There should be no tugging required.  Medallions, chunks, pulled or sliced should have some body and maintain its integrity but at the same time easy to chew.  Your senses will let you know if it was tender as opposed to mushy and unpleasant.  If  ‘bark’ is presented, and it is optional, there is a different guideline for tenderness.

Bark is the dark crust on the exterior of the pork butt.  It is acceptable for bark to be considerably more chewy than the interior meat.  Good bark can be a chewy flavor bomb in your mouth.  Understand what it is and how different it is than the interior meat.  No entry should be judged down because the bark is chewy and has a concentration of flavor.  On the other hand if you are unable to chew it and the flavor is bitter or too extreme judge it accordingly.

Brisket: Brisket is typically presented as slices, burnt ends, pulled and/or chunked.  The accepted standard thickness for slices is roughly that of a pencil thickness.  You should be able to gently pick up the slice from the box and it should stay together as one piece.  It should be limp and hang mostly straight down when held by one end.  A simple pull test can be an indicator for slice tenderness.  Hold an end of the slice in each hand and gently pull until the slice parts.  If it separates before you pull it is likely too tender (over cooked).  If it takes more tugging it is likely a little too tough (undercooked).  Take a bite, and let your mouth decide.  Your first mouthfeel impression will guide you.  Does it maintain its body and have a tender chew?  Does it maintain its body and take a little longer or more effort to chew?  Do you have to pull the bite away from the slice with some effort? Is it is undercooked?  The level of effort will determine the level of doneness.

“Burnt ends” are optional. If burnt ends are presented,  they should be a tender, smoky and meaty bite size piece of the brisket.  There is no size standard for burnt ends.  Burnt ends come from the fattier part of the brisket and will be very juicy.  The juiciness comes from intramuscular fat that is rendered down.  They will be tender and offer little to no resistance when chewing.  “Melt in your mouth” is desirable as opposed to mushy or tough.   However if you feel unpleasant chunks or globs of un-melted fat in your mouth after chewing, those can be undesirable and be judged accordingly.

Remember you are judging what is presented, not what you think should be presented!

 

 Posted by at 10:33 am