Head chef Mark on how the team cooked up a feast in Memphis
We all agree the Memphis world BBQ competition is the best place to come and visit for inspiration as there are some amazing stands that inspire thoughts around packaging and theatre.
The competition grounds are about a mile long next to the Mississippi river in Tom Lee Park and are full with just over 250 teams and 1,000s of barbecue fans. Here, great slabs of meat – beef, whole hog, whole shoulder, ribs and more exotic cuts – are slow-cooked over wood fires from 5-18 hours at a time. The pit masters baste and mop slowly, keeping the meat tender, while the different types of wood cherry hickory, mesquite and apple infuse it with flavour. There are lots of sauces to compliment the meat sweet mustard smoky bbq and hot vinegar just to name a few.
On night watch while the brisket cooks
Tonight (16th May) is the night before the big cook-off in our first competition and we have chosen to present Beef Brisket with BBQ ale glaze. The beef has been marinating in our secret rub recipe for six long hours and our excitement and patience is getting the better of us.
We have stocked up our smoker BBQ with lump wood and on goes our first chunks of hickory. The rain is pounding on top of our show tent roof. Myself and Dermott, a chef from one of our suppliers, are about to take it in turns to nightwatch the brisket as it takes a mammoth 14 hrs to cook from start to finish!
So, armed with our sleeping bags and head torches we set about putting the three whole briskets on. We have a few temperature issues and have to add new hickory every two hours through the night but generally all goes well. For the last two hours we wrap the brisket in foil with some ale and beef juices.
After the meat is cooked we let it rest for 1-2 hours. We’re due to serve the BBQ at 12.15 and the tension in the air across the park is electric. When the time arrives we slice the moist smoky BBQ brisket from the flat of the beef and carefully dice the succulent burnt ends. It’s all placed extremely carefully like we are handling the crown jewels into our presentation box which is filled with a putting green of parsley on the base.
A six colleague crew then escorts the finished box like Lady Gaga bodyguards to the judging tent were we hand over our crown jewels of the BBQ world! Yeehah!