Once again, the Caribbean BBQA held the anual Cattleman’s event on the 4th of july 2011 at centro de convenciones. Foodiespr.com was proud to sit at the judges table where the best smoking teams on the island (and caribbean!) slugged it out in category after mouth watering category. Sauces, sides, chicken, pork shoulder, ribs, brisket, it was all on hand and thousands showed up to take it all in. The event had a pretty good turn out despite an early pour that threatened the activities. The teams hung tough, and well, we’ve done more than that for great BBQ!
Congratulations to the team from la hacienda for winning (again). They are the island’s top pros and really do deserve it. The competition is a legit blind tasting so it’s pretty amazing the same team can win every time. Anybody who wants to try them out, they serve the pulled pork at their gourmet food truck el Naqui in Guaynabo.
For those of you unfamiliar with the CBBQA, here’s an interview with president Mike Compton we did a while back for My Pocket Concierge along with some pics from the event
MPC: What makes good BBQ and a winning BBQ team?
MC: There are several components to being a great BBQ Team. It is complex like any other sport and aside of having the skill, being good is a combination of many things. Consistency, meat selection, seasoning, timing, heat control and knowledge of the equipment being used are what makes a great Team.
A great BBQ team is all about consistency. Doing everything the same way, every time, once you have developed your winning, or signature sauce, rub, or marinade. Good BBQ starts with the best meats you can buy. The better the quality of the meats that you start with, the better the end result will be. This is not something you want to scrimp on.
The cook’s choice of the spices selected for the cut of meat. Some spices work better for beef, others best for pork, and yet others for poultry or fish. Know your spices and get the best and freshest possible.
Staying focused on your BBQ entry. Prepare for the Judges. Time is the Pit Masters enemy and the big difference between cooking competition style with a team and doing it in the back yard BBQ for friends is TIME. In a competition setting the clock dictates when you have to turn it in and whether it is ready to your satisfaction or not. So you better know how long it takes you to cook that rack of pork ribs or that chicken and get it seasoned and in the smoker or on the grill with enough time to get it done to perfection. Time is a killer of many a good team.
Pit Masters are cooking larger primal cuts of meat for BBQ and they take longer to cook, different meats different heats and time frames for cooking it. There is a lot going on and a team of 5 men and women doing it together makes for an exciting culinary dynamic.
Being a great BBQ Team means you knowing your equipment and your team. Every smoker, grill, or oven cooks differently than any other smoker, grill, or oven. Good Chef’s & Pit Masters know how their equipment & their Team works because they practice on it regularly. Heat control is critical. Good BBQ requires a low and slow approach.
MPC: BBQ judging seems like a serious deal. What’s does the gig involve?
MC: There’s only one first place and the Teams are all there to win it so you have to have a good tight consistent system of Judging. We use Certified BBQ Judges as well as Chef’s, Food Writers, Restaurant Owners & Operators, even former competitors. They have the awesome responsibility to sort it out and say this is the best of what is here today. It’s game day and nobody is taking it lightly. For information on becoming a Certified BBQ Judge go to www.BBQPR.com
MPC:How has the CBBQA managed to adapt to PR
MC: I wouldn’t say that the BBQ Association adapted to the Caribbean or even to Puerto Rico. The Association was built out of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The very roots of BBQ come from Puerto Rico and the Taino Indians from all around the Caribbean. The Association is built around what was already here and what BBQ has grown to be all around the world now, real good food, always shared with good friends and family. Our mission is to teach and train the ancient art of slow smoking, and promote BBQ as a culinary art shared with family and friends. I would say the BBQ Assoc. was built by the locals, both local locals and transported imported new locals, that all share the love of grilling and barbecuing. Even the rules we use in local competitions vary from those of the US in some small ways because they have been adjusted to fit the region we are do our BBQ in.