Barbecue contest heats up this weekend

Nothing says summer like cooking on an outdoor grill: The scent of hickory, mesquite and maple smoke wafting through the summer air, enticing the nostrils, while sizzles from the grill excite every growling stomach within earshot.

But this weekend's Battle of the Bones BBQ cook-off at Emigrant Lake is anything but a run-of-the-mill summer barbecue. Southern Oregon's largest barbecue festival will feature dozens of the valley's most dedicated barbecue buffs as they compete over hot, smoking grills to determine who is Southern Oregon's best.

After the success of last year's inaugural competition, organizers sought to raise the bar. This year, Oregon's Foster Farms and KBA Kobe Beef are supplying all the meat for the cook-off. Additionally, the teams have only four hours to create their finest barbecue from scratch.

Saturday will feature chicken while Sunday will feature Kobe Beef.

Many chefs regard Kobe Beef as the essence of gourmet dining. Legend has it that Japanese Kobe cattle, also known as Wagyu, are fed beer, massaged in sake and soothed by soft music. Supposedly these practices promote shiny coats, high fat content and buttery, succulent flavor.

The crucial procedure in cooking Kobe Beef is to sear the meat, as one would with foie gras or ahi tuna. The composition of the meat is so fatty that if it is cooked like a regular steak, the fat seeps out and loses its flavor, making it a difficult delicacy to prepare correctly.

The winning teams will be determined by audience choice. Each patron with a ticket has a vote, serving as taster, critic and judge. Each day the audience will pick their favorite barbecue based on a number of different food criteria, such as overall appearance, tenderness, texture, and, most importantly, taste.

The winners of each day's competition will take home $1,000, not to mention a year's supply of bragging rights as Southern Oregon's best barbecue.

The two-day event features vendor booths, water slides, jet boats and helicopter rides. Local bands, like Soul Food, The Frankie Hernandez Band, Whut Not, Groove Deville, Chaylin Gray, Scott Huckaby, The Rogue Suspects and Jeff Pevar will provide musical entertainment all weekend long.

Food will be served from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission to the cook-off is $6 per day or $10 for the weekend.

For more information on the Battle of the Bones, contact 245-2755.

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