|A badge indicating certified judge|
|Carol Bigler explains the judging process.|
Many BBQ cooking contests are now sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society -- not the most Southern of organizations since it is based in the mid-West (and also international) but it seems to be the leading group for sanctioning BBQ contests in the South as well as across the United States. The Society typically judges in four categories:
· Shoulder, a pork entry that may be cooked in one piece or divided into two (arm picnic and Boston butt)
· Pork ribs, which can be spare ribs (11 to 13 bones), St. Louis style (with brisket bone and all skirt meat removed), or baby back ribs (also known as loin ribs)
· Chicken, prepared whole, half, or any combination; with or without skin; and all white or dark meat or a combination
· Beef brisket, the underside chest muscle from beef cattle.
Regardless of category, I was surprised how the training class focused us on the quality of a meat’s cooking and not the category that the meat represented.
|Large trailers haul everything|
important for a cooking team.
In a contest, a table of six judges evaluates each entry, which can be submitted chopped, pulled, slices or diced. Each judge has to evaluate by the standards of the Society rather than personal preferences, and KCBS rules can be very specific. For example, although everyone has a personal idea of what makes a rib good, the Society specifies that the meat of an excellent pork rib must come off the bone with very little effort and only where the judge bites. The Society considers ribs overcooked if the meat falls all the entire bone while biting. In addition, a cook can use garnish such as green lettuce or parsley but no kale or red-tipped lettuce.
After attending six hours of instruction and sampling several entries in each category, I received what I wanted: Certification as a BBQ Judge. Now I’m ready to go on the road and judge. If you like barbecue and are interested in judging, learn more about the Society’s Judge Certification Program. Similar training classes are held in most states several times a year. The perks of a certified judge are great: tasting award-winning barbeque.