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Monday, April 4, 2016

The Ironman - Greencastle, PA

"This is Intense!"  That is a direct quote from a former elite athlete.  A four year starter on a three time NCAA Champion Soccer team.  If I ever had a doubt that competition BBQ was a sport, they were erased in that one comment.  So, with a bang, the 2016 Three Dogs BBQ competition season started at the Go Naked Ironman BBQ competition in Greencastle, PA.

Why the name?  I am glad you asked.  The rules are a bit different for this competition.  You have two choices.  You can pay a ridiculous amount of cash to enter and be able to use all of your gizmos: electronically controlled forced draft devices, electric knives, Bluetooth temperature probes, and all the meat you want to cook.  Or, you can pay the standard fee to "Go Naked": no forced drafts, no electric temperature monitors or knives, and be restricted to seven pieces of chicken, one rack of ribs, one pork butt, and one brisket.  Get caught with any of the above and you either cough up the extra cash or get disqualified.  You were only allowed to have an electric Thermapen to temp your meats for food safety purposes.  A true test of a Pitmasters skill.  There was good and bad involved for sure.  Mess up that one rack of ribs or see a little skin blow out on your chicken and you had nothing to fall back on to put in your box.  On the good side, there was no fretting what went in the box.  What you cooked was turned in regardless of what you thought.  How did we do?  Well, ok I suppose for our first time in this format.

First up was our chicken:

A fine looking box with nice flavor, but dinged a bit from two judges on tenderness.  I figure those were the judges that received the larger thighs.  This box was good for 29th out of 54 teams.  The take away here is to trim the chicken just a little more uniformly so they are all the same tenderness.  

Next were the ribs:

Again, nice appearance and taste scores but a little low on the tenderness scores.  This rack of ribs could have used about another 15 minutes on the smoker as they were just a little tight.  This box was good for 26th overall.

Next up was our pork box:

Great appearance and taste scores, other than one judge who commented that the sauce was too sweet.  The same judge commented that the meat was a little chewy.  Both comments were fair.  Our pork placed 33rd.

Finally, our brisket:

Again, good appearance scores.  But, taste and tenderness is where scores are weighted the most. The flat was spot on tender.  The burnt ends, a bit chewy.  We also received a comment that there was an unknown, unpleasant flavor.  This box was good for 35th overall.  Add up all of the scores and our finish was 30th out of 54 teams.

For our first competition of the year, I was somewhat happy.  This contest was a bit of an experiment as we tried some new recipes.  With the judges comments we can adjust accordingly for our next competition.  I know where I went wrong with the burnt ends, so that can be corrected.  I think we are ready for our next time out in May.

I would be remiss if I did not thank Tim from Spittin Feathers BBQ.  He substituted for Hope this past weekend and I could not have asked for better help.  If you have a BBQ team and you have not cooked with a member of another team, you are missing out.  I learned so much from Tim this past weekend.  Sometimes it is good to get another perspective.  Tim was a big help and for that, I am in his debt.

I would also like to thank Jeremie and Matt (the soccer champion) for coming down to Greencastle and cooking our Peoples Choice wings.  You might not have placed but they tasted pretty good!

Finally, we need to thank Eric Forrester with Mason Dixon BBQ Services for the great hospitality and running a great competition.

Congratulations to 3 Eyz BBQ, our Grand Champion and to Brown Liquor BBQ, our Reserve Grand Champion.  Also, congrats to all who heard their name called.

Next up for us is the beginning of our New York swing at the Salt City BBQ Festival in Syracuse, NY
If you are in the area, stop on by and say hi.

Thanks for stopping by,



  1. Those turn-in boxes sure look nice. I would of hoped you placed a lot higher. Damn Judges!

    1. We received some constructive responses Chilebrown. So, we work from there.

  2. Boxes look great! Nice to see comment cards were filled out. Having information to make adjustments if they make sense always should happen. I like the go naked style, even playing field if everyone had to do it. Good luck this year!

    1. Constructive comments are always welcome Paul. Will we see you at Salt City?