The Qube made it's competition debut last weekend at The BBQ Bailout. It was only the third time I cooked on it and all three times I cooked chicken. When I started to design and build this thing, chicken didn't even enter my mind; this was a charcoal oven. As the build continued it was obvious that it would be great for cooking chicken. So far so good but I still have a learning curve to figure out. One big thing for me is taking into consideration the weather. With my other smoker weather means nothing. It cooks the same if it's 10 degrees or 110 degrees outside. I designed it for the long New England winters. But not The Qube. It's only one layer of stainless steel and no insulation, so the wind/rain/cold will have a major effect on this cooker. The two times I cooked on it before the competition it was 35-40 degrees out with no snow. I formulated a time line according to those conditions. Well on the day of The Bailout it was snowing and the temps were in the low 20's, not ideal. I adjusted my time line slightly, but not nearly enough. As chicken turn in approached everything was going fine until I started to probe the chicken for doneness...my heart sank and my mind started to race. The chicken was cooking, and it was in the safe zone for chicken, but I knew I wanted more time. I was not going to have time to do a final step that we do on chicken. So I didn't touch the chicken and left it to cook another 10 minutes forgoing the last step. I handed the chicken off to Kris at 2:01, she did her magic, and was off to the turn in table at 2:03...the latest Lakeside has ever turned in. Now fast forward to the awards.
"Third place chicken...Lakeside Smokers." Ken announced.
"You kidding me?" I ask Kris, as I take a walk up.
I should be happy right? 3rd place is good. Well, I am happy, but the first thing I think of is skipping that last step. Now what do we do? The judges liked the chicken as it was but would they have liked it better with the final step? Maybe less? I don't know, and now I don't know what to do. But I do know one thing: there will be some chicken dinners in our future.