Episode 12 of this season’s episode of BBQ Pitmasters pits three champions from the previous round in a showdown to determine who will be filling the last remaining finalist slot. What curveball will the judges throw this week, and who will move on to face Butcher BBQ and Sugar’s Championship BBQ in the finals next week? Read on to find out…
(NOTE: Spoilers are below. If you haven’t seen the episode and don’t want to know the results, stop reading now.)
This episode of BBQ Pitmasters was filmed at the Smokin on the Summit contest in Lee’s Summit, MO the weekend of June 7th and 8th. The winners from episodes 7, 8, and 9 converged on this contest to fight it out for the last finals spot. The teams:
- Stump’s BBQ Team – Elko, GA (pitmaster is Walter “Stump” McDowell)
- Rescue Smokers – Sycamore, GA (pitmaster is Robby Royal)
- Pellet Envy – Kansas City, KS (pitmaster is Rod Gray)
It’s the semi-finals, and it wouldn’t be a BBQ Pitmasters semi-final without some kind of curveball. That curveball came in the form of venison tenderloin. The contestants were given venison tenderloin and brisket point, and they had 10 hours to turn in both meats. With the brisket point, both slices and burnt ends were required. The venison was a challenge for Rod. When asked about how he felt about the meat, he quipped, “This is the closest I’ve been to a deer except for almost hitting one.”
With the brisket point being the larger of the two meats, the initial focus of the episode was on the prep for the brisket point. The prep was fairly consistent across the board for the teams – trimming, injecting, seasoning, and wrapping mid-cook. Rescue Smokers went for the low-and-slow route by cooking at 225 degrees, Pellet Envy cooked at 275 degrees, and Stump’s started out at 275 degrees then dropped it down to 250 degrees after 2 hours. The biggest challenge for the contestants was getting the brisket point tender enough for both slices and burnt ends and still retaining moisture. Rod and Robby wrapped their briskets after 3 hours, adding brisket mopping sauce (Pellet Envy) and au jus (Rescue Smokers) to the foil. Stump took a different approach, going with layers of squeeze butter on top, then laying bacon slices on top of the brisket point and wrapping after a couple of hours after applying the butter.
Next, the pitmasters turned their attention to the venison tenderloin. Robby and Stump were very comfortable working with the Southern staple, while this was the first time for Rod to cook the meat. The teams took varying approaches to attempting to remove some of the gameyness from the venison. Stump used a Creole butter injection and a marinade, Rod used a salt/sugar brine, and Robby used an Italian dressing marinade. Bacon made an appearance, as Stump laid thick slices on top of the whole tenderloins. Robby used the silver bullet of all meats to wrap around some venison medallions.
This ultimately ended up proving to be yet another close episode. While Stump’s venison tenderloin was proclaimed by Tuffy to be the best venison entry of the day, tenderness issues with the brisket point plagued him. This relegated Stump to 3rd place for this episode. Rod’s venison tenderloin still retained some gamey taste, but the tenderness was spot on. Robby had a very slight issue with some of the venison being a little bit tough. Pellet Envy squeaked out the win over Rescue Smokers with a stellar brisket point entry to complement his tender venison tenderloin.
My Thoughts, Plus a Drink Count
Random thoughts of mine, in bullet style format:
- Would you have picked venison tenderloin as the second meat to cook? I like it, but it definitely put the Georgia boys at an advantage (although ultimately it did not matter much in the end).
- This episode was the third episode in which Pellet Envy had some form of brisket to cook (brisket point from the KC BBQ throwdown episode between this season and last, and brisket flat in the opening round for Pellet Envy).
- The point differential between first and second place was less than two-tenths of a point, the closest differential in BBQ Pitmasters history so far.
- There was a little bit of irony in Robby Royal of Rescue Smokers finishing ahead of the guy who built his BBQ pit.
And now for the drink count… I counted 28 drinks broken down as follows:
- “That’s Me” – 18 drinks
- Butter / Squeeze Butter – 2 drinks
- Injections / Flavor Profiles – 5 drinks
- Trash Talking – 2 drinks
- Myron Mixing swearing – 1 drink
The finals are now set! The updated bracket is below. A printable version is also available.
So what did you think about this episode? Which of the semi-final episodes did you like the best? Leave a comment below and start the chatter!