Students of smoke

Event trains judges in the art of barbecue

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Chris Patterson of the Brown Chicken Brown Cow barbecue team pulls pork outside Porky G's Barbecue in Coeur d'Alene on Saturday. The restaurant hosted a barbecue judging class that attracted 35 students.

COEUR d'ALENE - Pulled from the smoky cavern of a giant barbecue, the burnt ends simmered in a metal pan.

Spicy, tangy and delicious, they were bathed in red sauce and cooked to crispy perfection.

"That's good barbecue," said Jim Monihan of the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS).

He was outside Porky G's on Northwest Boulevard, where seven teams from the West Slope Barbecue Association were cooking ribs, chicken, pork shoulder and brisket. The lot smelled of roasting meat and swirling wood smoke.

"You've got people from around the area who are experienced with real barbecue, and it's cool to see it come to fruition here," said Chris Patterson of the Brown Chicken Brown Cow team.

The fresh barbecue was for educational purposes: 35 students attended Monihan's barbecue judging class on Saturday at Porky G's. After four hours of in-depth instruction, they were official KCBS contest judges.

"It's excellent. I got here at 7:30 this morning, and kind of bum-rushed my way into the class," said Carey Jones of Coeur d'Alene. "What better way to spend a Saturday than to eat championship-style (barbecue)?"

The students learned about proper taste and presentation. Monihan told the class about "umami," the savory taste a good piece of barbecue leaves behind.

Different barbecue styles were tasted and scrutinized.

"It's been a good mix," said Elle Beardslee of Spokane. "It's a lot harder than I thought."

Both Jones and Beardslee plan to judge sanctioned barbecue contests in the future, they said. A panel of qualified judges - those who have been property taught - ensures fairness at barbecue events, Monihan explained.

Patterson spent his day prepping platters and cooking meat.

Barbecue, he said, is about "friendship and camaraderie. And good food."

Jeston Burnett carves ribs at Porky G's Barbecue on Saturday.

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