The second of three finalist spots was determined this Sunday on BBQ Pitmasters. Find out which of the three preliminary round winners claims the $5,000 courtesy of Diet Mt. Dew and moves on to the finals in 2 weeks.
(NOTE: Spoilers are below. If you have not seen this episode and don’t want to know who wins, stop reading.)
Filmed in Westmont, IL at the Red, White, and Bar-B-Q festival the weekend of May 24th-26th, this episode brought back the winners from episodes 4-6 of this season. Making their way to the Chicago suburb to compete for the cash prize and finale spot were the following teams:
- Shiggin’ and Grinnin’ – Delano, MN (pitmaster is Jeff Vanderlinde)
- Swamp Boys – Winter Haven, FL (pitmaster is Rob “Rub” Bagby)
- Sugar’s Championship Barbecue – Portland, OR (pitmaster is Lynnae Oxley)
Just like last week’s episode, the judges did not make it easy on the teams. They were initially puzzled to find in their coolers a meat grinder, three packs of meat (beef, pork, veal), and a whole pork shoulder. It was soon revealed that the teams would be turning in whole pork shoulder and BBQ meatloaf in 12 hours. While Rob and Jeff were a bit perplexed, Lynnae was excited. In her words, “I cook BBQ meatloaf all the time.”
The initial focus of the episode was on the pork shoulder, where all of the teams had a similar preparation style. They all separated the whole shoulder into the Boston butt and picnic ham, trimmed the meat, injected with their various injections, and rubbed them down with their respective seasonings. The attention then shifted to the BBQ meatloaf. While Swamp Boys and Shiggin’ and Grinnin’ used all three meats (beef, veal, pork), Sugar’s decided to only use the beef and pork. Rob kept his meatloaf simple, using a coarse grind on his meat and keeping the seasonings light and simple. Lynnae went the Bacon Explosion route by wrapping her meatloaf in a bacon weave. And in the most bizarre twist, Jeff grinded sliders and used that in his meatloaf.
While the cooks for Rob and Lynnae appeared to have gone as expected, Jeff experienced some issues with his cooker (an Ole Hickory CTO, I believe…) and ended up overcooking his pork. This doomed Jeff to a third place finish. While Rob appeared to have a very slight advantage in pork shoulder, Lynnae’s BBQ meatloaf appeared to take the day. In the end, it was a close contest, with Sugar’s edging out Swamp Boys for the second finals spot (which should air in two weeks).
My Thoughts, Plus a Drink Count
Here are some random, unorganized thoughts of mine from this episode:
- I actually enjoyed having BBQ meatloaf as a category. While purists may wince at this and say “that ain’t BBQ”, the dish itself incorporates enough BBQ elements to be viable.
- The sliders used by Shiggin’ and Grinnin’ was a stroke of genius! Breadcrumbs and onions are often core ingredients in a meatloaf, so that was a good move.
- I think had Jeff not had the issues with his cooker for the pork shoulder, the finish would have been almost as close – if not as close – as last week’s episode.
- This was the second episode of the season filmed in a non-traditional BBQ area (the first being the episode on Staten Island, NY).
Tonight’s drink count was not high, but that doesn’t reflect on the episode. There were 26 drinks broken down as follows:
- “That’s Me” – 18 drinks
- Myron Mixon swearing – 1 drink
- Trash Talking – 2 drinks
- Injections/Flavor Profiles – 4 drinks
- Butter/Squeeze Butter – 1 drink
Below is the updated bracket, also available in PDF format for download.
So what did you think about this episode? Let me know in the comments section!