There will be a little bit of everything in this one…
It was Old Virginia Smoke’s first foray into the Safeway BBQ Battle in Washington, DC. It has been said that the contest is a logistical nightmare, with a late load in on Friday night, late turn ins on Saturday, super large crowds and just in general, being in DC.
And yes, most of that is true.
There also would be the addition of onsite judging in the ribs and pork categories. The onsite judging score would be combined with the KCBS rib score and pork score to determine the National Pork Champion.
We would arrive on Constitution Ave. at around 7:30 p.m., where we would meet Leigh Anne, who was already checked into the hotel. We heard that we could be there a while, even till midnight, but we were prepared. However, Mike Fay from Aporkalypse Now and Keith Tremel from Fat Maxine’s pressed the issue and we got situated at around 9:30.
We immediately got meat inspected, and set to work on the first three categories: chicken, brisket and lamb.
We had concocted a special plan for the lamb, and we’re going to grind it and do lamb sliders. Something different.
We set out on Saturday full of vigor. Several road blocks presented themselves—1.). It would rain….all day…and very hard. 2.) Lamb was being judged KCBS style. No veggies. No bread. No sliders.
We needed a new plan.
We were joined on Saturday by Sir William Stillwell, aka “The Goat” from sports radio fame. The four of us put our heads together and decided to make lamb meatballs, which we decided to call “William stillwell’s Goa’ Balls.” We knew they weren’t going to win. So we had fun with it.e
Chicken and brisket were ok. The timelines were screwy…the weather was screwy. It was just odd. But we got right to work on ribs and pork for the next days turn ins. The girls would get good sleep in the hotel, and we would be ready to rock and roll.
Talk about a sea change in the weather. Sunday was magnificent. Nice sun, blue sky…and good fires all night long. We felt like we were missing a bunch of things. But it turns out that all were missing was he chicken and brisket from the day before. Pork and ribs went off without a hitch.
Now it was time for the onsite judging. The girls did a fantastic job in decorating the table for the judges and the grill for the meat. First was ribs. I’m lucky to cut up a rack of ribs and hit one or two bones. Now I’d have to do it front of people. In the one rack, I got four clean bones. So each judge got 2 ribs. It went great. (Thank you Mike Fay for the shot of whiskey to cal me down.).
Next was pork, and it went well. Again, none of this would have happened had it not been for the girls. So much hard work and attention to detail. Made everything beautiful.
We did our best to get as cleaned up as we could, and headed to awards. Surrounded by BBQ legends and heavy hitters, it was definitely humbling. We were cooking a major competition, and hoping for a call.
Chicken and brisket were first. And no calls. It was a three way race between great friends of ours…Pork Barrell, Serial Griller, and Aporkalypse Now.
And then it was the dreaded lamb. They called four…and we didn’t hear our name. Come to find out…the amazing Goa’ Balls finished fifth, one spot out of the money!
On to ribs….and the names keep coming off…until they announce Old Virginia Smoke as the rib champ!!! What a relief…at least we heard our name. Then pork comes down, and we get a second place behind our new friend Matt Barber with Hot Wachulas! Man…two great calls.
We forgot about the pork championship and the Safeway ribs championship. OVS takes both,and named the national pork champion. Hahahaha. It’s still so fun to say.
Great job to everyone that heard their names called! A great competition, and I cannot wait for next year. America!!