Breasts ? Thighs ? If I was 16, these are the things I would be thinking about at 0300 on a Sunday morning. But I’m not 16, I’m in my 50’s and this is all I can think of at this ungodly hour. Why am I so obessesed you ask? It’s because my BBQ team mate Jed Thompson and I are going to Orange Beach, Alabama in a weeks time to represent France in the World Food Championships (https://worldfoodchampionships.com/) in the BBQ division where we will be up against 100 of the best BBQ teams in the world including 17 foreign teams. All of us have a chance at the final prize of $100,000.00!!!!
Back to my dilemma…. I’m in charge of 2 of the categories we cook in, chicken and pork ribs. I’m confident in my ribs, in fact we have been very successful in previous competitions. Chicken is another story; I have practiced getting the perfect chicken but I’m still not happy even after cooking over 100 pieces recently. Under KCBS (Kansas City BBQ Society) rules, you need to present 6 pieces in a 9”X9” box to the judges where you are judged on 1 bite per judge!!! If you present a piece of chicken including skin you are judged on the skin as well as the meat. The judges are looking for “bite through skin” which is a lot harder to do than you can imagine. This is why I’ve been practising skinless chicken breasts as well as thighs. I can nail the look and taste on the breasts but they aren’t popular with the competitors because if you overcook them slightly they are dry and won’t score well. I WILL CRACK THIS!!!!
All that aside, competing in a competition so far from home also brings on many problems we don’t encounter when competing here in Europe. We not only have to fight jet lag but all our equipment is loaned or borrowed so the familiarity of using our own smokers etc is gone. We will be doing a test cook the day before the competition to familiarise ourselves with the borrowed equipment so we should be able to adapt easily. We also are buying the various meats once we get to the US and their cuts are different than they are here so we also need to adapt our cooking style to what we buy. As they say, “if it was easy, everyone would be doing it”!
You can follow our World Food Championship experience on our Facebook pages Ralph Gray, Jed Thompson or Oncle Jed’s Texas Style BBQ.