Monday, August 17, 2009

Post BBQ Leftovers

After every BBQ contest, we are faced with the same old question: "What to do with all these leftovers?"

We are accredited by and judge for the Kansas City Barbeque Society which is the largest bbq organization in the world. As such, they are the sanctioning body for the majority of the BBQ competitions held throughout the U.S. When you watch specials on the Food Network about the American Royal competition held annually in Kansas City, you are watching a KCBS event.

All KCBS sanctioned contests MUST include four basic categories which are always done in the same order over a two hour turn-in period. There may be additional categories associated with any specific contest and those may be judged the same day or on the previous night but any KCBS event will consist of chicken, ribs, pork and brisket, in that order.

The judging process is serious business. Every judge is asked to sample and rate six samples from each category. Each sample is tasted and rated on its own merits. Sample #1 is tasted and then completely graded before moving on to sample #2. They are not compared to each other. There are specific elements we are looking for in each entry.

Ultimately, each judge will be presented with 1 1/2 - 2 lbs., or more, of meat at a contest. Obviously, most of us cannot eat every piece of food in its entirety while judging. Most take two, maybe three, bites of a sample before grading it. When the category is done, we are entitled to go back and eat the whole thing if we desire, pack it up to take with us or throw it away. I, like most judges, carry ziplock bags and a cooler with us to contests.

In the chicken category, turned in at 12 noon, we are most often served six thighs. Cooks can submit any part of the chicken but most find thighs cook the most consistently and retain their moisture in the submission box. (Breasts tend to dry easily. Wings and legs tend to turn out less consistently.) I have been served all parts at various contests and this week my table was served five thighs and one submission of sliced breast meat. Obviously, between the two of us, we have a pretty good stock of leftover chicken at the end of the category. (Incidentally, spouses cannot judge at the same table so we never judge the same entries.)

Ribs tend to produce the least leftovers. Often, by the time we've taken 2 or 3 bites, there really isn't much left on the bone. Nonetheless, I usually have a few ribs left over.

The pork category consists of pork butt and can be served as pulled pork, sliced or chopped. When we first began judging back in 2005, the vast majority were turned in as pulled pork but we are now receiving just as many sliced and frequently chopped samples these days. This is usually another large batch of leftovers as samples tend to be sizeable servings.

The final category, turned in at 1:30 in every contest, is beef brisket. We are generally served one decent slice per sample. This doesn't sound like a lot, but by this time, we are getting somewhat full. Most judges test for tenderness by pulling a chunk off of the slice with a gentle tug. We then taste that piece but often have the rest of the slice left over!

Believe it or not, we have judged contests that included additional categories at this point. Many events include a sausage or dessert competition. Some have an "anything but" category and quite a few have "whole hog" judging. The most categories we've faced in one day have been seven. After that event, we brought home nine pounds of leftovers!!

Needless to say, I have learned the best ways to warm up leftover ribs and brisket slices and have come up with a variety of recipes for the leftovers. Since chicken is a mainstay of regular diet, I have never had trouble finding uses for those scraps. I've had to be a little more creative with the other categories. Tonight we had enchiladas made from the leftover pork samples.

Pulled Pork Enchiladas:

I generally dump the pork in a bowl (shredding any sliced or chunked samples) add just a speck of my own rub for seasoning, some chopped onions and bell peppers (precooked in the microwave) and some shredded cheese. Mix well and fill and roll soft tortillas to form enchiladas. I open a can of black beans and poor it into a large rectangular glass baking dish and then add one drained can of black beans and two drained cans of diced tomatoes with chiles. Stir this well and then place the enchiladas on top of the bed of beans and tomatoes. I drizzle a little sweet bbq sauce over the top of the enchiladas and sprinkle a little more shredded cheese over that. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, until the cheese browns.

***A little pulled pork really stretches this way. I made 8 enchiladas tonight - enough for two hungry men and myself. Oh, and we had leftovers! I put three in the freezer. These make easy, quick lunches for the guys. I wrap them separately and they can just grab them frozen. By lunch time, they've thawed and they warm them in the microwave at work.

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