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Rib competition scoring?

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I competed in my 1st rib comp. yesterday and decided I want to get one started in my hometown during the town's annual festival.

I wasn't a huge fan of the scoring system for the comp. I was in, so I want to make a better one. They were vague in their categories, I would like to be more specific. They had appearance; I would like smoke ring, rib color, etc.

What would you include in a score sheet?


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I'm a KCBS judge and the categories we use are Appearance, Taste & Tenderness. The scores range from 1 to 9 with 6 being average.

Getting too specific can be difficult. There are standards the judges go by, but there is room for creativity and interpretation by the judges. I have seen beautiful presentations that scored low for taste and tenderness. And vice versa.

For ribs, maybe I can touch on a few things you might consider in making your contest rules:

A good appearance usually has a certain amount of uniformity, color and a presentation (like on a bed of parsley or lettuce). Good Appearance makes you want to taste one. A bad appearance might be charred meat, gloppy sauce or a bad job of slicing.

KCBS guidelines for ribs state that the meat should come off the bone with little effort on the bite, and only in the area of the bite. If more meat comes off, it's likely an overcooked rib and should be scored down. The exposed bone under the bite should dry quickly. The meat should be tender and moist, but not be mushy.

The flavor must be appealing, and ribs can be presented with or without sauce. I look for a balance of flavors; I want to taste pork, seasoning, smoke and sauce..... but don't want one to stand out over the others. Of course if I detect a bitter smoke flavor or something like lighter fluid, I will score them down.

As far as smoke ring goes, they are not considered in KCBS judging because they can be doctored with things like Tenderquick.

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Are electric or propane options for fuel source in these competions? Or do they require charcoal and or wood? Is there also a requirment as to everyone using the same quality of ribs or is it bring your own?

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thirdeye- Thanks for the info.

I did a little research on the KCBS scoring system and that seems pretty simple and a good start for a scoring system.

Leaky- the comp. I did was open to any way of cooking. They supplied the meat and you had to pick it up 1-2 days before the comp. Then you could get it ready to your liking. All cooking had to be done onsite.

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