If you read my post last weekend, you would have seen that I was asked to join a pitmaster team for a local charity – Towns 4 Troops. They have an annual iron chef event, where several teams compete for the honors (and a trophy) and test their skills at wielding the BBQ beasts.
A few of us received a call 48 hours before the event, asking us to assemble a team of amateur BBQ enthusiasts, as one team had pulled out. There was no hesitation, and we all answered the call … without knowing exactly what we had agreed to!
The competition was set up as a 5-6 hour event, with four teams being asked to prepare a delicious set of wings. The wings would be judged by some local chefs, and they would nominate the winner based on tenderness, flavor, and the spicy kick.
There was only one catch. The teams would be presented with three secret ingredients that had to be included in the dish. We would be given these mystery additions just when we fired up the grills, leaving us little or no time to prepare.
You could say that it would spice up the competition and prevent teams from preparing sauces and flavors at home.
The mystery ingredients: black pepper, pickles, and apple cider vinegar.
Perhaps not the easiest items to incorporate into chicken wings, especially the pickles.
The cool thing was, each of the four teams would be paired with a local restaurant, and the head chef would be visiting the team while preparing the wings, to provide guidance and some cooking tips.
My team had never participated in such events in the past, so we were truly amateurs. And, neither of us had attempted to make wings either. Double whammy!
It is all for a good cause and we accepted the challenges proudly.
We had plenty of time, so we decided that each team member, in our team, would attempt to create a wing + flavor, using the ingredients. We would sample the various wings and decide which wing + flavor to present the judges.
…. just a few ads 🙂 ….
After two hours of thinking, cutting, mixing, grilling, laughing, tasting, and sipping a little beer, we were ready to taste each other’s wing attempt.
I’m proud to say that my wing was selected as the team wing to be presented to the judges. I will of course share the recipe in another post.
The other amazing thing about this event is that the restaurant that we were paired with, will attempt to recreate the recipe and sell this wing at their restaurant the following weekend.
How cool is that? My wing recipe will be featured at a local recipe. Now, that makes me pretty proud and something I had not anticipated would happen. Imagine, the Viking Heart Warrior would have his recipe on display. I hope it goes well.
Anyway, my team went to work and started to prepare my wing. Thankfully I had written down the process. I just had to put the team to work.
An hour later, we were ready to present the awesome wing and sauce to the judges, which absolutely incorporated the three mystery ingredients; black pepper, pickles, and apple cider vinegar.
The judges tasted four sets of wings, one serving from each team. They were asking questions, picking the meat for tenderness, and taking in the flavors, and of course the extra kick of the hot sauces.
While this was a friendly competition, there were still nerves floating around. Every team wanted to go home with the trophy. A lot of bantering and innocent verbal comments passed around, intensifying the tasting challenge.
I’m very proud to say that my wing came in 2nd. My creation and flavors was well-liked by the judges, and the only critique was that they missed a little crispiness to the skin. But, they were very impressed, and the chef that helped us was very excited about presented this wing to his customers.
We had hoped for a top-four place, but extremely happy with coming second. It was the team’s first attempt, and we did very well. The team was pumped and we agreed to join forces next year again.