Nothing says get ready for summer more than grilling on a warm, Sunday afternoon! 4-H members from across New Hampshire participated in the first 4-H Grill Master Cook-Off and showed off their barbequing skills. Modeled after the Eastern States 4-H Beef Cook-Off, teams of three competed to create a balanced meal all on a grill. 4-H members could pick either beef or pork as a meat and then were given a starch, vegetable, and a mystery ingredient announced on the day of the competition. Everyone had 45 minutes to make their dish and present it to a panel of judges. The teams had to work together prior to the competition to select recipes and practice cooking to ensure a smooth competition.

Prior to cooking, the 4-Hers took part in a workshop on meat grading and quality. A USDA meat inspector and former 4-H member came to discuss her role in ensuring quality meat at a processing plant and career opportunities in the industry for the 4-H members. Everyone learned the distinctions between the USDA grades of Prime, Choice, Select and Grade, and how these grades determine the outcome of the meat sold. She discussed in depth the difference of observing quality in beef, pork, and lamb. It was an educational session that put all the competitors in the mindset to grill a delicious meal.

This year, the dishes had to feature either boneless pork chops or boneless NY sirloin steak, potatoes, and zucchini. The highly anticipated mystery ingredient was prosciutto (thinly sliced ham that is smoked or cured). While these ingredients may be simple, the teams had to think creatively about how to make their dishes stand out, and how to fully incorporate the prosciutto in a last-minute scenario. Judges were asked to select the best beef and best pork dish from all the teams. The teams were judged on their creativity, taste, and teamwork. Food safety and knowledge about their cuts of meat were also important considerations for the judges throughout the day.

Four teams participated in the cook-off and 4-H members tackled this competition with drive. Some of their menu items included maple glazed pork chops, smokey seasoned steak, potato and cheese hash, zucchini and prosciutto roll-ups, and much more. All the judges were impressed with the quality of the food and attention to detail. The top beef team and pork team were selected from all the teams, and then one was selected as the first 4-H Ultimate Grill Master.