Tuesday, April 21, 2009

15th Annual Redneck Barbecue--Sikeston, Missouri [Lambert's Cafe]

The date of this event was April the 10th and 11th and was to be our first contest of the year for 2009 and I spent about a week getting everything together again and loaded into the trailer for this event. Was still too cold to de-winterize the trailer so we will use it without the bathroom and the water service.

My co-cook for this event was Steve Creech (ZZ-Que BBQ) from Columbus, Indiana and he arrived early on Thursday morning and we got him all loaded up and we were on the road by about 8:00am for this 330 mile trip to Sikeston.

After a couple of stops, we got into Sikeston around 12:30pm their time and found the cooking site and asked some folks where to set up and was told by a couple of teams that it didn't make any difference so we just picked out a spot and got all set up for the event. The site was at the Sikeston Rodeo Grounds and they had great hookups with both water and electricity. With some weather coming, we decided to go out and pick up some new wiper blades for the truck and get a bite to eat. We then unhooked the truck and went back into town and found an Auto-Zone and got some new blades and Steve installed them on the truck. Now to find something to eat.

Sikeston has a very famous cafe called Lambert's and is the home of the "Throwed Rolls" which has been seen many times on the Travel and Food channels and is a great adventure in itself. It was established in 1942 in Sikeston and they now have two other locations with one in Foley, Alabama and the other in Ozark, Missouri. Now, this old fellow doesn't wait well but the time was right between lunch and supper so we drove out to the place to see if we could get in without a wait and we did but it was still about full even at this time.

I really wasn't real hungry but I did want to order a whole meal so we could be sure to experience Ole Norm's Pass-Arounds and of course the "Throwed Rolls" and it came down to two great looking meals on the menu. The full one pound "Rooster" cut Chicken Fried Steak or the big 14 oz Real Country Ham meal. Tough choice!!! Anyway, I went with the Country Ham and for my two sides, did the mashed potatoes with white gravy and the cole slaw. My drink was to be unsweetend tea.

Bout this time, one of the kids came around with the first round of Ole Norm Pass-arounds and it was a pot of deep fried okra! The young lad kinda looked at us like we were some kind of out of towners as we didn't know what to do as we didn't have any plates or silverware on the table yet as we had just ordered. He told us to get some paper towels or napkins down on the table and he just poured out about a pound of the golded brown deep fried treat. Now, this old farmboy was in Heaven as I sure love this Southern treat and I just sat there and with some good hot sauce proceded to do some damage to that big pile of okra. Someone then hollered "Throwed Rolls" and I looked up and a young fellow just tossed one to me and those things are a big as softballs. Applied about a stick of butter to the roll and now it was really getting good. We just sat there and feasted on these two items and along with our tea which was served in quart mugs, just about made ourselves sick!

About 20 minutes later, our meal arrived. The ham was served sizzeling hot in a large stainless steel skillet that the meat was cooked in and the veggies were in bowls and also inside the skillet as well. Very nice presentation! Bout this time, here come all the rest of the kids with the Pass-Arounds. First was a large skillet of fried potatoes with just a hint of onion flavor and of course, I got a big helping. Next girl had a pot of black eyed peas, then a pot of macaroni and tomtoes arrrived, then more okra, next came a girl with a bucket of sorghum for the rolls. And then, some more throwed rolls and this just continued on throughout the meal. Those kids just forced all this food on this old fat man and I really loved it. The Country Ham was the real thing and must have been aged at least 12-14 months and was the very best I have ever eaten in a restaurant. All the sides and Pass-Arounds were great and the meal was as good as can be found anywhere and was resonably priced. We both had to get a 9X9 to-go box and load up what we couldn't eat and believe me, it was about as much as was served in the first place and sure made for a great breakfast and lunch on the next day at the contest.

Friends, I just can not say enough good about this place and I just can't wait until next year when I can take on that "Rooster" cut full pound of the Chicken Fried Steak. For me, the restaurant itself was worth the trip to this contest. I will remember to take my camera next year!

Arrived back at the contest site and one of the organizers told us that we were parked in the wrong spot. Now that didn't go over very well with me after spending about 90 minutes getting all set up and I squalled and griped for about 30 minutes as I couldn't see any difference in the size of the sites. The lady couldn't give me a good answer on why I couldn't stay where I was parked and forced us to load up and move to another site. The J-Mack team had arrived and they helped up move and get setup on another site and I sure thanked them for that help. I was a heart attack looking for a place to happen after that huge meal at Lambert's and sure didn't need all that hassle after my meal. Hell, I needed a nap!

Anyway, we got all setup again and checked the tv for the weather and it looked pretty bad for the evening. It just looked like waves of bad weather coming so we did get the truck all hitched up again and got everything stowed away as the storm and winds were coming. I was very tired and went to bed early and then the first round of weather hit at about 12:30am and the wind just bounced and tossed the trailer up and down and the rain came down in sheets. There were many 55 gallon trash barrels around the campground and they were blowing all around the site and banging up against the truck and trailer. I had the tv on and could see the mess we were in and it didn't look good. There were all kinds of tornado and storm warnings out and they were reporting some deaths just West of our location in Arkansas so it was a bad storm. We made it thru the first round ok and still had electricity so I figured I would be up all night so I made a pot of coffee and then checked outside to see the damage. Real good thing that there were not many teams at the contest yet as I am sure there would have been some considerable damage. Well, the porto-pots were blown over and the trash barrels were all over the place but that was all the damage I coud see in the dark. Kinda surprised me that my cooker hadn't been blown over. Anyway, we had about 3 more waves of weather come thru before morning but none as bad as the first wave and we did survive the mess without any damage.

After the last big wave went thru at around 4:30am, it was now just misting some light rain and I went out to do my morning walk. I got up to the far end of the campground to where the team of Florida Skin & Bones was set up and found a mess. This team had arrived early on Thursday as they were one of the teams that planned to vend at the contest and of course, they were all setup by Thursday afternoon and the storm had realy torn up their area. They had a large metal awning that had blown back over the top of their trailer and then about 60 more yards and over a fence and up against the side of a maintenance building on the golf course. Many other items had been upset and blown around their site, stuff broken, bent up, lost, and it was a real mess. Sure felt sorry for the team but they were taking it ok and laughing about the mess.

Anyway, it's Friday morning and time to start thinking about getting our meat prepped for the contest as we did want to do some visiting after this was done. Had several friends coming as this looked to be a good event. Around 8:00am, and after breakfast, the rain stopped long enough for us to get outside and prep our contest meat. Probably spent about two hours getting this chore done and just in time as it had started to rain again and now it was time to visit and chew the fat with our friends as they arrived and got their sites all setup for the contest. It looked like more rain was coming so we figured we had better enjoy it now as more was coming our way.

Got to visit with the Smokin' T's and also Bill Arnold of Blues Hog fame. Also said hi to Delta Smoke as I hadn't seen them since the Lebanon, Tn contest of last year. Did visit with a couple of new teams and got back with Bill Arnold as I needed a case of his sauce. I purchased a case of gallons with three gallons of the regular sauce and then one gallon of the Tenn Red sauce. That should hold me for the rest of the contest season with what I have at home. Steve purchased a case of pints as well.

I didn't get any pictures as the rest of the day was kinda nasty with off and on rain and some wind and cold and it just wasn't a very nice day.

About 4:00pm, Steve went to the cooks meeting and when he got back, we got ready to get started with the cook. Got the cooker set up to run off of the inverter and marine battery as I wasn't sure we would have electricity all night. Fired it up and brought it up to temp and loaded the first round of meat (pork butts) at about 6:00pm. We then loaded the briskets at about 8:15pm and we were set for about 5-1/2 hours before I needed to wrap the meat. I went to bed as I do like to get some sleep early into the contest. Steve came in later and went to bed as well as it is always a long night cooking a contest. We got thru the night in great shape as the weather started to lift and Saturday morning was dry and with some sun coming around a couple hours later in the morning. Turned out to be a nice day. Steve did a practice walk to the judging building which was a good distance from our site so he would know how long it would take to get our meat turned in and we just cooked and prepped all four of the meats and got them into the presentation boxes and all turned in by 1:30pm in the afternoon.

We then did what clean up work we could do as we planned to stay over on Saturday evening at the contest site so we couldn't load everything into the trailer until Sunday morning.

Cleaned up a little and caught a ride in a golf cart from the J-Mack team and went to the awards which were inside a nice building. The awards were around 3:00pm in the afternoon.

We ended up with the following awards:

Chicken...5th place...and nice plaque and some money
Ribs...11th place...nothing for this
Pork...9th place...ribbon
Brisket...7th place...ribbon

Overall...8th place

This was our chicken and our highest scoring box.

Was a very tight contest with the top 9 teams only separated by 13 points. I deserved the scores we got as I forgot a few steps with the first contest of the year. I have to be retrained each year and this takes a few contests to get going again!

The J-Mack team invited us down to their beautiful motorhome for a pizza party on this evening and even come and got us on the golf cart. I wasn't hungry as I had snacked all afternoon but old Steve had some pizza at the party. We didn't stay very long as I think we were both beat so we went back to the trailer and I went to bed.

Got an early start on Sunday morning and I got home about 12:30pm. Steve is about an hour away so he got home early in the afternoon as well.

Was a great contest and I will probably do this one again. Lambert's by itself was worth the trip!!

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