Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 10-29-12 | TheFencePost.com

Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 10-29-12

Shelli Mader
Hays, Kan.

I wouldn't call myself much of a meat person. Sure, I eat a lot of meat — a beefless meal in my house is almost unheard of — but I'm just not into preparing it. I'd rather do some baking than meat cooking any day.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to go behind the scenes at the Showdown Barbeque challenge in Scott City. This Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned event is a pretty big deal around here — pulling barbeque teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado into competition for $7,500 worth of prize money.

At the event I met a local team of men who call themselves Hillbillies for PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals). The trio of friends — Colton Eikenberry, Bill John and Scott Lungren — have been participating in the competition for three years just for the fun of it.

As I talked to the men a few hours before the competition started, I was a little overwhelmed with just how excited about meat they were. I mean, meat is just meat right? It wasn't until they let me try a piece of their brisket and chicken that I realized just how much I had been missing. That meat was honestly the most amazing thing I have ever eaten. And coming from me, that is really saying something. It was so good!

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Though the men didn't share their top-secret grilling methods with me, they did give me an idea of how much work goes into grilling for the competition. Each of their meat recipes involves three or four steps — things like basting, injecting, marinating and applying dry rubs.

If you have ever seen the Discovery channel show, BBQ Pitmasters, you probably have a pretty good idea of what goes on in a BBQ contest. In fact, I was surprised at just how accurate the show portrayed real life competition.

Meat is served to judges in Styrofoam containers. Timing is an important part of the contest — entries that are received by judges even a few seconds late are disqualified. The meat is not only judged on taste, but also on appearance and tenderness.

The Hillbillies for PETA have had to learn to adjust their cooking for the judges.

"For example, we like to cook brisket until it will just melt in your mouth," team member Bill John said. "The judges want a brisket that stretches out about 3/4-of-an-inch and then breaks."

The Hillbillies for PETA only wound up placing 19th out of 25 teams (I can't imagine what the winner's meat tasted like!), but the men had fun doing it. And though you probably won't ever see me in a grilling competition, I did gain a new appreciation for just how good meat can taste. Now I need to go to Pinterest to find some grilling recipes! ❖