I don't know who invented the double-barreled lede, but old Charlie Dickens had it down:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

After talking to barbecue competition judge Jennifer Shiflett in advance of the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship next weekend, we found ourselves in need of the same technique.

She said there's no difference in taste between kosher barbecue and regular barbecue. And she wondered if competitors are using too much sauce on some of their entries.

Either idea would make a good lede -- beginning --  for this blog item.

During the interview, we the got the taste question out of the way right at the start:

In a blind test, can you tell the difference between kosher barbecue and regular barbecue?

"Absolutely not," Shiflett, a lifetime member of the Kansas City Barbecue Society, said. "I don't think anybody could."

Shiflett and her husband, Bill, live in Fort Worth and are both Master Certified Judges. They are the KCBS contest representatives at the second annual Dallas Kosher championship at Sunnyland Furniture.

The big difference in kosher competitions, of course, is that there is no pork. Competitors cook beef brisket, beef ribs, chicken and turkey.

All the meats, smokers, grills, knives, utensils, spices and condiments are provided by the organizers to ensure that kosher dietary laws are followed. Teams do their prep work Thursday night. Cooking begins after sundown Saturday and judging begins at noon Sunday (Oct. 30).

The competition is organized by the Men's Club of Congregation Beth Torah in Richardson. Last year, nine teams competed. As of the beginning of this week,  nine teams had registered for this year's event.

Jennifer said that she and Bill do a couple dozen or so competitions a year as judges and competitors. "I bought Bill his first smoker for his birthday in 2010 and it’s been a whirlwind since then," she said.

Regular readers of this blog know that the Posse, generally, is anti sauce. Real Texas barbecue, we think, needs only a good spice rub and smoke. We've been to a few competitions, though, and noticed that many expect sauce. Jennifer concurs.

"It seems like it's gotten sweeter and sweeter over the years," she said. "There's a ton of sauce on chicken and most of the time it's ridiculously sweet."

"I don't think I've seen a dry rib all year," she continued. Judges are even starting to see sauce on brisket. "And I think that's horrifying," she said. Wonderful brisket, with a nice crust, can be cooked with a rub of mainly salt and garlic.

The Posse couldn't agree more. Good luck to all the competitors this week in Dallas.

And, as for Dickens, it's always the best of times in barbecue.

Bill & Jennifer Shiflett at a BBQ competition in 2015. (Courtesy photo)

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