I have to preface this with a few things: I had cooked five contests prior to our cook at the Cornelia Apple Blossom Festival and had received calls in every other meat. No brisket call, not even in the top half of the stats sheet on it. After the previous contest when brisket cost the team winning the competition I decided to blow up my technique and recipe. I had finished 20th out of 30 teams in brisket and lost the Grand Championship by 3 points! That meant practice practice practice between comps, so I cooked 3 briskets over a two week period and felt confident and ready to go.
The brisket cook went well in Cornelia. I had a 15lb Snake River Farm Wagyu and it came out beautifully. I pulled it out to slice it and was happy with the bark and moisture I saw on it. I cut of the edges to square up the flat for the box and proceeded to make some great pencil thick slices. Best slices I've ever cut. Except I looked down..and I'd somehow sliced WITH the grain. :doh: Rookie mistake that I've never done. Not even on my first brisket. The slices were SUPER tough. I was pretty upset because I'd ruined this gorgeous piece of meat!
I looked around at my scraps and found a corner piece that I could slice against the grain and that's what I did. The problem is I only got four good sized slices and even they weren't that large. I had two small slices, one about 2 inches and the other about 2.5 or 3 inches. We decided to create a fanned presentation but since we decided not to cook burnt ends before the comp we needed more slices to fill the box. We figured that we were out of the hunt in brisket anyways, so we gambled and stuck two slices that were with the grain in the back of the box figuring that we got one freebie with the judges since the lowest score is dropped. Katie and I were so disappointed and a little upset at how our box looked we didn't even take a picture; we now regret that big time!
At awards time when they got to brisket we were simply rooting for our friends to finish high enough in the category to place overall in the competition and didn't expect anything. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2..and then they get to first. The organizer who is a friend paused and says, "I can't believe who won this category because they told me a story about how they'd ruined their box earlier." And then she calls us for first place brisket! I was BEYOND shocked. It took a few seconds for me to collect myself and go forward for the award. Out of all our calls and finishes this is the one I'm most proud of because it took the most effort to achieve. All I can say to those struggling in the brisket category is this: Don't give up! Practice, practice, practice...and it will come.