Cooking Tips

it's national bbq month - chicken cue crew spotlights, recipes, hints & tips for great bbq

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One of the first things that probably comes to mind when you think of barbecue is perfectly grilled BBQ chicken. It's a warm weather staple for most households. Since May is National BBQ Month, we thought we would spotlight a handful of the amazingly talented pitmasters that make up this year's Springer Mountain Farms Chicken Cue Crew, share some of their favorite at-home recipes, tips for great grilling and smoking, and some of the gadgets they just can't do without. These teams are out on the BBQ competition trail all across the country most weekends, honing their craft and winning big with Springer Mountain Farms chicken. We aren't kidding when we say our chicken is the choice of BBQ champions!

Mad Rocket Barbecue - Huntsville, Alabama

Mad Rocket Barbecue sources their competition chicken from Foodland grocery stores and Warehouse Discount Groceries in Alabama. They've been using SMF chicken for all of their competition cooking since they started competing 3 years ago, and have racked up great success with it including finishing 4th in the country in the Backyard Division of the Kansas City Barbecue Society's Team of Year in the Chicken Category.

These guys use the bone-in thighs for competition cooking, but love using the 4 oz individually wrapped breast portions at home. It's their favorite for the grill because they are the perfect portion size and cook up quick with just a little of your favorite BBQ rub(s) to add some flavor for great tasting grilled chicken.

Follow Mad Rocket Barbecue on Facebook & Instagram

The BBQ Asylum - Gallatin, Tennessee

Chef Phillip Dell is the head pitmaster for The BBQ Asylum and is no stranger to competition cooking.

Chef Dell is a barbecue virtuoso whose culinary journey has been seasoned with success and accolades at every turn. With a passion for pitmaster perfection, garnered at an early age while roasting whole hogs with his grandfather and uncle, Chef Dell has carved out a legendary status in the world of barbecue, leaving a trail of smoke and savory delights in his wake.

In 2023, Chef Dell reached the pinnacle of barbecue glory by clinching the coveted title of World Champion at the prestigious American Royal Barbecue Competition. Along with the esteemed "Bonehead Nation" team, Chef orchestrated a culinary extravaganza that helped earn them the distinguished honor of "Party of the Year" with an exquisite four-course catered event that left judges and guests alike craving more.

His prowess on the barbecue circuit is unrivaled, marked by multiple perfect chicken scores of 180 and a historic "Perfect-Perfect" 180 score at the Royal Oak Invitational, a feat that few can boast. With an impressive record of multiple Top Ten Category awards, and back-to-back NVBBQA TOY Reserve Grand Champion titles in 2020 and 2021, Chef Dell's mastery of the grill is undisputed.

His dominance extends beyond the borders of his home state, as evidenced by his triumphant performances at the Jack Daniels World Barbecue Invitational in Lynchburg, Tennessee, where he received three top ten calls in 2017.

Chef Dell's culinary brilliance has also been showcased on the screen, with appearances on hit television series like Carnival Eats, Carnival Kings, Cutthroat Kitchen, Fire Masters, and Barbecue Country where his ingenuity and skill have captivated audiences around the globe. Chef Dell’s culinary prowess even earned him the coveted title of CHOPPED Champion on the Food Network.

Amidst his barbecue conquests, Chef Dell has been honored with prestigious awards such as Industry Chef of the Year in 2019 and recognition as a National Educator of Excellence by the esteemed National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation in 2016. His dedication to culinary education was further underscored by being named Teacher of the Year by the Nevada Cattlemen's Association in the same year.

With five Grand Champion titles on the National Barbecue Circuit, three qualifications for the World Food Championships, and victories at steak competitions including the Steak Cookoff Association's Golden ticket for the World Steak Championship, Chef Phillip Dell's culinary reign knows no bounds.

As the smoke clears and the embers of success continue to glow, Chef Dell along with his beautiful wife, Leah, and teammate, Jason Haling, stands as a beacon of barbecue brilliance, inspiring aspiring pitmasters and delighting palates with his unparalleled culinary creations.

Follow The BBQ Asylum on Facebook & Instagram on their BBQ journey as well as Chef Dell.

Chef Dell shared one of his favorite grilling recipes for Grilled Pesto Chicken & Kale Pasta.

Take It Easy BBQ - St. Louis, Missouri

Dan Wright, pitmaster, of Take It Easy BBQ started his BBQ journey on the judging side of competitions. After judging a variety of masters and backyard competitions he was challenged by a cook team to start competing himself. 2023 was the rookie season for Take It Easy BBQ and they cooked about 20 contests in total throughout the year. By season's end, the team had racked up multiple category wins, 2 perfect scores, 2 Grand Championships and the St. Louis BBQ Society's Rookie of the Year, 3rd Overal Team of the Year for Chicken and 5th Overall Team of the Year for Pork.

Dan loves cooking Springer Mountain Farms chicken at home for his family too, especially chicken wings! He's a sucker for a good hot wing, but normally seasons them up with an all purpose rub and everyone adds their favorite sauces. He purchases his chicken from Fresh Thyme Markets and Korte Meat Processing.

His top tip for the novice pitmaster looking to up their grilling or smoking game would be to find a good temperature probe and get familiar with it. Dan shared, "It's amazing how much better your dining experience will be when you cook foods to the correct doneness and the temperature probes really help dial that in on the grill and smoker, especially with the larger cuts of meat. Don't be afraid of cooking whole chickens or a brisket...you can do it!" He also encourages you to support your local BBQ supply store or local hardware store that might specialize in a great BBQ supply selection. A lot of them are willing to support or host a cooking class for novice pitmasters.

Follow Take It Easy BBQ on Facebook & Instagram.

Bourbon & Blues BBQ - Wilmington, North Carolina

The dynamic duo of Julius (JP) and Colleen Parran make up the winning combination for Bourbon & Blues BBQ team based in Wilmington, North Carolina. They were first introduced to competition BBQ in 2011 at a local festival in Annapolis, MD. After talking with one of the contest reps, JP & Colleen learned more about competition BBQ and how to become certified judges. From there, they judged Kansas City Barbecue Society and Memphis Barbecue Network events for several years. In 2015 they started Bourbon & Blues BBQ as a concept, but it wasn't until May 2022 that the pair took the leap to start competing. Bourbon & Blues BBQ's first competition was the West Virginia BBQ Throwdown in Ripley, WV. After that first event, they knew they had found a new passion and something the truly enjoyed doing together.

JP & Colleen had 16 Top 5 finishes in the chicken category for 2023 and finished the season with top honors as the Kansas City Barbecue Society's 1st Place Chicken Team of the Year in the Backyard Division. After winning that high honor, they made the move up to the Masters Series and are currently ranked 13th in Chicken for 2024.

The couple has amassed numerous accolades in the Chicken Category, but are most proud of these crowing achievements:

  • 1st place 2023 Kansas City Barbecue Society’s Chicken Team of the Year
  • Lakeland PigFest Backyard Grand Champion with 1st place chicken
  • Sip & Swine Backyard Grand Champion with 1st place chicken and a perfect score of 180
  • Atlanta BBQ Store Classic 1st place chicken and a perfect score of 180

Follow Bourbon & Blues BBQ on Facebook & Instagram

Check out this delicious Bacon Wrapped Cheesy Chicken Grenades they shared. JP suggests to consider using your smoker for things other than just smoking meat. They are great for baking sweets and making pizzas and encourages you to explore the possibilities!

Colorado Bulldawg BBQ - Windsor, Colorado

The teams 2 English Bulldogs, Brisket and Blaze, claim all the glory for the hard work Colorado Bulldawg BBQ puts in to keep winning on the competition BBQ Trail. Their humans, Levi & Jessica, might have something else to say about that!

Colorado Bulldawg BBQ got their start in 2015 with just a few competitions each year. Last year the team decided to chase the Kansas City Barbecue Society Team of the Year points race, and their efforts didn't disappoint. They landed 7th Overall in the country in the Master Series, 7th in the chicken category, 14th in ribs, 5th in pork and 23rd in brisket. With that tremendous year, they also ended up the winners of the Jealous Devil $50,000 grand prize.

You never know where the Bulldawgs might pop up for competitions, as they've literally crossed the entire country to compete in the last year from stops in the southeast to trips to the west coast and lots of exciting locations in between. To be as successful as they've been is a testament to their cooking skills! Flavor profiles that appeal to judges varies greatly across the country, and Colorado Bulldawg BBQ seems to be the BBQ whisperers when it comes to what pleases the judges.

Follow the BBQ adventures of Brisket, Blaze, Levi & Jessica on Facebook & Instagram.

Vets Rolling Smoke & BBQ - Columbia, Illinois

The guys that make up the team of Vets Rolling Smoke & BBQ (VRSB) are a little more unique than most other teams on the competition BBQ circuit. As the name implies, they are group of military veterans that cook barbecue together, but it goes even deeper. What started out as a pastime and hanging out together cooking good food evolved into a 501(c)3, non-profit organization that has partnered with varied barbecue product companies to provide food, comradery, events and help to support military veterans, homeless, children and first responders in their community. The guys were called to this mission to serve these groups in their communities as a way of giving back and thanking their fellow Americans for the support they were shown during their military deployments and being away from their families.

VRSB holds virtual cooking competitions online with themes that range from special holiday events to every day recipes. These virtual competitions not only help raise awareness to their cause, but encourages members of the group to remove themselves from isolation, soak up the great outdoors, build a new skillset & confidence, as well as, forging relationships in the vast BBQing community. All of the prizes are donated from their sponsors. Competitions are open to pros and the average joes, with no qualifications in BBQ cooking required. Join the Vets Rolling Smoke & BBQ group on Facebook.

The main reason the team started competing in both the backyard and master divisions of competition BBQ (in the Kansas City Barbecue Society and the St. Louis BBQ Society), was to bring more attention and focus to the charitable side of VRSB. One Team, One Fight!

Follow Vets Rolling Smoke & BBQ on Instagram.

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