Monday, August 1, 2011

Sam's Club National BBQ Tour in Fort Worth

The Sam's Club National BBQ Tour made its way to Fort Worth in the heat of July for one of five regional contests. The top 10 finishers are sent to the National Championship in Bentonville, Arkansas in October to compete for a grand prize of $35,000. The top few finishers in a few local contests made up the field on this day, so in the judge's seat I knew I'd be getting better quality meat than a wide open competition. Troy Black was there as the master of ceremonies, and the rest of the KCBS crew ran the event without a hitch.

You can't take photos of the entries at a KCBS sanctioned competition, so I snapped a pic of the score sheet and placemat. Imagine six ribs laying at the same angle on each square. After we finished with the chicken entries, I knew that I was in for a good day of eating. Nearly all of the entries were good to exceptional. After more great samples of pork and ribs this was easily the best quality meat I'd enjoyed as a competition judge. Now it was time to bring on the brisket to see what these cookers could really do. As expected, the meat was all quite good, but none of these slices will remain in my memory as some of the best brisket I've eaten. Maybe if I'd gotten Johnny Trigg's (from BBQ Pitmasters) wagyu brisket, I would have been more impressed.

If you know about Johnny Trigg, then you know he's one laid back Texan from Alvarado. After the judging had finished I went over to chat with the man himself who was even more relaxed, probably because he had already qualified for the National Championship in Las Vegas a couple of months ago. I learned he uses the Wagyu brisket in every competition, and more importantly that he might make his way to a TV screen near you sometime soon. The producers of BBQ Pitmasters captured a good amount of film in Kuwait when Johnny and the rest of the BBQ Pitmasters crew went overseas to cook hundreds of briskets for the troops. I'm hoping to see that come up soon.

At the end of this day 'She Thinks My Slabs R Sexy' took home top prize of $5000 and a trip to the National Championship. It's a good thing that Johnny Trigg got that spot in the nationals back in Vegas, because he came in 15th on this day (full scoring list here). I know that I left full and happy, and after 25 samples of meat I was dumb enough to head into Fort Worth to try a few new BBQ joints. I'm not sure if I'm a glutton for punishment or just a glutton.

- BBQ Snob

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Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.