014 Live @ Clean Heat Rib-Off 2017

Not too long ago I was very privileged to have the opportunity to MC the Clean Heat Charcoal BBQ Rib-Off for Underground BBQ. It was the first competition of its kind in Australia and it was a hell of a great day out. It was essentially a down-and-dirty grudge match to work out who cooks the best pork ribs in Australia once and for all, earning themselves the title of Rib King or Queen. Oh, and a cool $1,000. In cash!

The contestants were a veritable who’s who of Australian BBQ: the top three scoring teams for pork ribs from the 2016 season, and two wild card teams teams who are famous for their smack talk about their ribs.

However, Rohan wanted a level playing field so supplied nearly identical smokers, charcoal and smoking woods and even ribs from the same supplier too. As soon as he filled me in on this plan, I knew I had to be involved.

Still want more? Be sure to pick up your free ebook: 27 Lessons Learned from Competition BBQ… 

Show Notes

Abel fr. Clean Heat Charcoal

  • Imports charcoal from Namibia
  • Clears a noxious weed and uses it to make charcoal
  • His products are all 100% natural
  • He employs locals to do all the work, giving them employment, income etc

Adam fr. The Vineyard

  • The Vineyard is a cultural icon in Melbourne
  • It has been a steak house for most of its life
  • The current owners have had it since 1999

Brenton fr. Misty Gully

  • They 25 different species of smoking woods available to the public
  • Woods are either imported from the States or sources within Australia
  • They do logs, chunks, chips and dust
  • Based in Reservoir in the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne. They ship all around Australia
  • Online retail store – smokedandcured.com.au
  • The bigger the form of the wood, the longer it’s going to burn / smoke
  • Soaking chips and chunks – Brenton soaks them for the sake of flavour, using different liquids such as apple juice or apple cider vinegar. Peach chips with Golden Ale is a favourite of his

Linda and Chloe fr. Pits Perfect

  • Likes to avoid ribs that fall off the bone
  • Is cooking her ribs 2.5 hrs unwrapped, 0.5 hrs wrapped and then just see how long it takes to get a good glaze
  • Judges can be taught what they should be looking for but they will always score according to what they do or don’t like
  • Pits Perfect has been cooking on Clean Heat for a while
  • Clean Heat burns really clean with no odd smells and it burns evenly for long periods
  • Their new smoker is a reverse flow trailer smoker from Hog Pit Smokers
  • Try and avoid being too adventurous with flavours if competing in rural areas – they tend to like more traditional style recipes

Lukas and Shane fr. Rollin Smoke BBQ

  • They like to do their ribs hot and fast
  • Lukas has been the Rib King in the past but was not the current Rib King at the time of the competition
  • Lukas prefers Pecan wood for smoking as he likes the smell of it as it’s burning

Jonathon, Al & Booma fr. Full Metal Kettle

  • They were trying a method based on the 3-2-1 method. Alterations need to be made depending on the rack of ribs that you have
  • They are 2016’s #1 team for pork ribs
  • They are a Melbourne based team
  • They do most of their cooking on kettles, but find that there isn’t a big difference between cooking on kettles or offsets – it just comes down to fire management
  • A hotter fire is a cleaner fire, 275F+. A colder fire will generate white smoke which will give your meat a bitter taste

Kyle & Paul fr Rub N Grub

  • Were 2016’s #2 scoring team in Pork Ribs
  • Their secret to success is polishing their flavour profiles
  • They allocate proteins to particular team members
  • Clean Heat is the go-to charcoal for South Australia
  • The rain doesn’t bother the smokers as they are 5mm steel, which retains the heat
  • When preparing a flavour profile for ribs: they like to go heavy with a dry rub and go for sweet with mild heat
  • They like to aim for 3-2-1 when doing ribs, but need to adjust sometimes depending on each individual rack

Saffron fr. Bush Kitchen

  • Known as the Rib Queen since 2012 when she won ribs at the Royale
  • Has now relocated to Seattle
  • Tips for ribs – try not to over think trimming your ribs: just clean up the edges and make it look neat ‘Accept the meat for what it is and try to do your best with it’
  • Saffron likes to use an acidic lather before putting on the spice rub, either mustard or Worcestershire sauce
  • Saffron aims for 3-2-1 but plays it by ear. She will wrap as soon as she has the colour she wants

Craig fr. Suck Knuckle Smokers

  • 2016 #1 team across the board
  • The judging process involves looking for taste, texture and appearance
  • With a level playing field, winning will come down to the individual Pitmasters’ techniques