Winter Competition Practice

Comp thigh comparison

Comp thigh comparison

Competition season is well underway and I’m just days away from my first event this year. It’s really exciting to get out there again and see all my BBQ friends and meet new folks. I’m also excited to try my new recipes I have developed over the winter. Practice was something I wanted to emphasize after the American Royal. Kansas City was a taste of what kind of dedication I needed to improve my scores and win some trophies.

After some time off for the holidays, I hit the ground running in January. Every weekend, I practiced and tweaked my flavor profiles and techniques for chicken, pork and brisket. My ribs did well for me last year, a wrinkle was added, but it remained the same recipe. Did I mentioned how much I practiced?

Months later, I have a plan for all 4 categories. Here are few shots on what got me to this point.

Competition chicken prep

Competition chicken prep

Chicken thighs topped with butter

Chicken thighs topped with butter

Thighs done

Thighs done

These chicken thighs were not what I had in mind. They looked good, my trimming skills are improved, but the flavors were not there and the chicken was over cooked. Back to the drawing board.

Practice pork butt

Practice pork butt

Pork practice box

Pork practice box

I was happy with the way my pork turned out. A little refinement was all that it needed. Of course, I will need to cook additional pork butts because I cut off the money muscle during the cook which is illegal in KCBS competition. Nonetheless, the following pork practice was such a success that I purposely didn’t take pictures because I probably would have posted them here. However, if the judges love the pork in competition, I will most definately post it.

2nd Chicken practice

2nd Chicken practice

Sauced competition thigh

Sauced competition thigh

Tenderness and moistness improved greatly on my second chicken attempt when I cut the cooking time down, but the presentation was not what I liked. The rub washed right off when I brushed the sauce on, it was a mess. A new sauce was just what my chicken needed to boost flavor, I’m digging this chicken.

Practice brisket

Practice brisket

My brisket compeititon recipe was completely over hauled. Last year, I just couldn’t impress the judges. This year, I’m not using any sauce…it’s all in the Au Jus!  I love the flavor but I’m skittish on whether this would work. There is only one way to find out, I hope it ends with a call.

Final chicken practice

Final chicken practice

I’m not sure if the judges will like my chicken, but DAMN!!!…it was good!. Appearance, taste and tenderness were absoluetly there in this batch of thighs. I fixed all the problems I had before and it all came together perfectly. Can’t wait to see what the judges think of all my barbecue.

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Saber Grill Review

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Saber Grill LLC

Disclaimer: Saber Grills, LLC contacted me regarding an offer for a complementary grill. By accepting a Saber Grill, I was under no obligation to write a favorable review nor was I paid to do so. My analysis of products on this blog will not be influenced by any type of compensation. In addition, I am not liable for any recommendation or instruction of the product that appears in this review.

Spring has arrived and many of you are considering a high end grill this season, look no further…the Saber Grill Cast 500 (Model R50CC0312) is the answer. Saber grills (Retails for $999.00) are the grandiose adaptation of Char-Broil’s line of infrared grills. This souped up cooker is tough and built to last, but the most impressive feature is the ability to produce picturesque, juicy food. Not to mention the overall quality of this propane grill has a good dose of bling bling.

Out of the Box

For starters, if you’re a stickler for the care of your package like I am, prepare to have your mind blown. My Saber Grill was packed tighter than antique artwork. Every nook and cranny had packing foam, plastic or cardboard protecting every piece of hardware…literally! Even the screws, washers and nuts were meticulously packaged so you know you won’t be missing these essential parts. This leads me to believe that something special is in this box.

Saber Grill in package

Saber Grill in package

In addition, the stainless steel sections were sturdy and heavy…an indication of a well built cooker. So much so, that I needed a buddy, Tony, to help me lift some parts. No problem, we grabbed a beer and unfolded the assembly instructions which was as large as a world map. This was because the graphics were enormous, perfect for the farsighted griller. Clear instructions were much appreciated along with detail boxes to show close ups. Total time of assembly: a 6-pack, equivalent to about an hour.

One nugget of advice for assembly, the edges are sharp and we sustained a couple of cuts as one would handling stainless steel edges. None were remotely serious, but still, gloves would protect your hands. Nonetheless, we fought through our pain and suffering to complete the assembly.

Saber Grill Assembled

Saber Grill Assembled

Sable Grill Profile shots

Saber Grill Profile shots

Afterwards, Tony and I gazed upon the Saber Grill in complete awe, then we looked at each other as if we telepathically said…GRILL MEAT! Okay, that didn’t happen, but we were impressed with the grill space. Easily you can stretch out a couple racks of ribs or place a whole turkey on this bad boy. Additionally, if you’re a patio partyer, there is plenty of room for burgers and brats for your large gathering of friends, family or neighbors.

As I eluded to at the beginning, the Saber Grill brand is manufactured under the same parent company that produces Char-Broil grills. Thus the infrared grill technology, which became a sensation for Char-Broil, is the focal point to this outdoor cooker and rightfully so. What you get is a more flavorful and juicier product on the grates.

Saber Grill surface assembly

Saber Grill infrared technology

Saber Grilling in Action

Instead of further boring you with specs and such (which you can find here), why don’t we get to the good stuff…grilling!

What can’t you do on this grill? I put the Saber grill through a rigorous course of techniques and skill that few gas grill are able to achieve. This stainless steel brute has the ability to roast peppers, cook delicate foods, sear and smoke meats to tender, juicy perfection.

It’s easy to write about how simple it was to grill on this amazing cooker, so here are the results in all its delicious glory!

Roasted peppers on Saber Grill

Roasted peppers on Saber Grill

Brats on the Saber Grill

Brats on the Saber Grill

Roasted Peppers and Brats plated

Roasted Peppers and Brats plated

Indirect Cooking on the Saber Grill

Here’s a tip for high heat meat grilling…Most grill masters make the mistake of searing the outside of meat, but not cooking the inside. The best method is to cook indirectly (see the 2-zone method) after searing. In other words, turn one end burner on high while the other burners are turned off. I illustrate this below…this is my favorite setup to perfectly cook anything on the grill.

Indirect on the Saber

Indirect on the Saber

Notice which burners are turned off and on. Above, the far left is on and reads 500+ degrees on the temp gauge. The other burners are off, but look what they read on the temp gauge…between 250-300 degrees. Use the hot side for searing, use the cool side to finish at the desired internal temperature of the meat. This is a great rule of thumb to have succulent, tender meat.

More grilling on the Saber Cast 500

I was impressed how intense the heat was on my grill, it reached in excess of 600 degrees in minutes! As a result, I achieved some wicked grill marks. Grill marks not only make your food look appetizing, they add flavor to your palate. Furthermore, I was able to cook pizza dough on my Saber grill to perfection without burning or sticking the grates…amazing!

Grilled chicken on the Saber

Grilled chicken on the Saber

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As you can see, the Saber Grill can cook a variety of cuisines. But how does it perform on the most important test for a grill…cooking a steak!?!? On this final task, I select two delectable cuts of steak; teres major and a prime strip.

Prime strip steak on the Saber Grill

Prime strip steak on the Saber Grill

Prime Strip Steak with fried shallots

Prime Strip Steak with fried shallots

Look at those grill marks! My strip steak was juicy and full of flavor. Notice that the steak is not burnt, an indication of even heat distribution. Even more, the fat drippings did not cause flare ups. Instead, it dissipated and enhanced the savory meat….gotta love that infrared technology!

Lastly was a teres major steak, a delicacy in my region (St. Louis, MO). However, I intended to add smoke this time. I placed a handful of dry pecan wood chips directly on the grate. Pecan wood has a mild scent, the smoke will infuse the meat during the cook to add a layer of smoky flavor. Typically, wood chips flame up when placed directly on gas grills.

Smoking on Saber Grill

Smoking on Saber Grill

Teres Major steak on Saber Grill

Teres Major steak on Saber Grill

Not on the Saber Grill! The wood chips lightly smoldered on the grates for a long period of time. They didn’t flame up despite the fact that the surface was more than 600 degrees! Because of this, I was able to enjoy my smoke infused steak. I would be enticed to try smoking ribs on the Saber! Here is the final product cooked to my liking…look at all that juice!

Teres Major steak, sliced

Teres Major steak, sliced

My Saber Grill was able to do so much, it did everything I wanted except fetch me a cold pale ale. I highly recommend this cooker for those who are ambitious with their cooking and can appreciate a well built grill.