This week on Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters, the three competitors settled their grills in Slidell, LA, where barbeque is a little bit of everything: “heat and sweet.” And, smoked meats are a particular specialty. But, none of the competitors this week were from anywhere near the Bayou!
“There ain’t none of these spots known for their barbeque,” Judge Myron Mixon said as he introduced the three competitors:
- Jeff Vanderlinde; Shiggin’ and Grinnin’; Delano, MN
- Andy King; The Bastey Boys; Templeton, MA
- Scott Lane; Piggy’s UK; Hugglescote Leicestershire, UK
Now, Minnesota and Massachusetts may seem exotic for some BBQ lovers, but the UK?
“Scott, tell me something,” Judge Mixon said, “what do Brits know about cookin’ barbeque?”
“We’re European champions and we’re international grand champions,” Scott replied. “So, we know enough to take these guys on, don’t worry.”
Joining Judge Mixon were judge Tuffy Stone and guest judge William “Bubba” Latimer, owner and pitmaster of Bub-Ba-Q in Georgia, as well as winner of the last three Georgia Barbeque Championship Series competitions. And, their challenge?
Buffalo brisket and bone-in pork loin.
For eight hours, the pitmasters prepared these meats—perhaps a bit blindly, since none of them were familiar with buffalo brisket.
Buffalo brisket is the same cut as the more familiar beef cut, but much more lean—perhaps 1/3 the fat, suggested the judges. “With that, you don’t have a lot of flavor in there,” Judge Mixon said, “kinda like tryin’ to cook turkey.”
Pitmaster Andy decided to go with a rub on his brisket; Pitmaster Scott decided to inject and season, as he found the brisket to be similar to the beef cuts typically seen in the UK; Pitmaster Jeff also decided to go with the same profile he uses with beef, injecting and rubbing, “Salty, sweet and a little bit of heat,” he said.
For the bone-in pork loin, all three judges agreed a sweet flavor would be the best way to go, and the pitmasters agreed, as well. Pitmaster Scott had never cooked a pork loin, and injected and rubbed, giving the pork some sweet and some heat. Pitmaster Jeff made a new injection on the fly, because he said pork loin has been his weakness in competition, and he did not want to do the same thing that has been costing his team competitions. And, he believed he got it right. “It was salty and sugary, and I knew we had flavor at that point.”
Additionally, Pitmaster Jeff made the decision to wrap his brisket with red wine to keep it from drying out. “Red wine typically does go with buffalo from what I’ve heard,” he said, “I’m not a big red wine guy, but I don’t know what else to do with it.”
Did his risk-taking it put Pitmaster Jeff ahead of the game?
It might have, until he decided to slice his pork into chops—exactly what all three judges said they did NOT want to see. But, Pitmaster Andy and Pitmaster Scott did the same, so the “mistake” just put them on a level playing field, really.
Pitmaster Scott’s pork entry was deemed not quite flavorful enough; Pitmaster Andy’s texture was spot-on, and the apple flavor was just right according to Judges Mixon and Latimer; and Pitmaster Jeff’s pork had just the right tenderness, the judges all agreed, although Judge Mixon did say he would have liked a little more sweetness.
All three pitmasters were sweating the judging of their buffalo brisket. Pitmaster Andy’s did not quite pass the flavor test, with two judges tasting too much buffalo, one not enough spice; Pitmaster Scott included burnt ends in his box and got a smile for texture, but mixed reviews on taste; and Pitmaster Jeff’s wine-wrapped entry got praise all-around.
So, who took home the trophy?
Pitmaster Jeff, with his on-the-fly creations!
Pitmaster Andy took second, while third place went to Pitmaster Scott.
BBQ Pitmasters airs on Destination America on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. E/P.
Image: Destination America