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My Chicken aka from #1 to #48 without even trying!

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    My Chicken aka from #1 to #48 without even trying!

    Drove a long, long way last weekend to cook in one of my favorite contests, the Dillard Bluegrass-BBQ Festival in Dillard, GA. A decade ago, I got my first call in the top 5 of a category!

    The two contests prior, I'd been on a chicken run with a 2nd then a 1st place finish. This weekend, my chicken was 48 out of 56.

    Looks pretty -- not changing a thing at my next event! This photo is sideways, presentation would be with the legs horizontal not vertical.

    That looks great. Sorry to hear that you didn't do so well. Personally, I could never figure the consistency thing out. We always moaned about that and even talked about 2 teams turning in the same thing (no we never did it) and see if the scores were consistent. Bottom line, sometimes you get a bad table or simply get your butt kicked.


      There's no doubt my chicken went to the table of death! Next contest, the judges will get more of the same. That's the thing about competition barbeque, subjective taste buds of 6 individuals. Sometimes you're the bug, other times the windshield!


        Looks great! Care to share the recipe?


          Brine chicken for 2 to 4 hours -- I like 1 cup water, 1 cup buttermilk, 2 tablespoons salt, 4 tablespoons sugar. Remove from brine, place neatly on a rack to drip. Sprinkle rub (Tsunami Spin from Dizzy Pig) on pieces all around (medium rub not really heavy), place back on rack. Cook on smoker at about 275 for 1 to 1-1/2 hours turning the rack occasionally so the pieces brown consistently. Temp check each piece of chicken. When 185 or higher, dip each piece in hot BBQ sauce (I use a sweet sauce like Baby Ray's), then pan in a full size pan and seal up tightly. Let rest in a hot cambro for 30 minutes. This step is important because it gives you tender, bite-through skin. Put it in the turn in box and let the judges at it!


          • FLBuckeye
            FLBuckeye commented
            Editing a comment
            Awesome! I will try that soon. I see you use drumsticks; I really like that idea presentation wise. You reference a hot cambro. Could the one that will be resting the brisket and butts be used for this? Guessing so

          Look up Meatheads post on bad rookie certified judges. If those drums taste half as good as they look...


            I'd be tempted to lay down some slices, fajita-style, of juicy breast with an un-sauced, well-rubbed brown skin surface. I know I would take hits on appearance since I care much less, taste matters to me. I would judge according to this belief too.


            • fredcanfly
              fredcanfly commented
              Editing a comment
              I'd probably judge it high, too! We need to start a league where taste is king. I would love to compete in that one!

            Maybe someday Meathead can foray into starting his own BBQ society. He knows what matters in judging, he would root out the BS with current judging standards. Taste is king in my book. Tell a blind man "but it looks excellent!' and see what said blind man says.


            • Jon Solberg
              Jon Solberg commented
              Editing a comment
              I can see this new society thing happening someday.

            • _John_
              _John_ commented
              Editing a comment
              If anything you should get punished for it not looking like it came from an animal like most of those chicken thighs. And maybe its just me, but thighs are easy, breasts are a really fine line, if you want to show me some skill then give me a juicy breast that isn't mushy or dry.

            • Huskee
              Huskee commented
              Editing a comment
              John that's what I'm getting at too, taste, not perfect chicken loaf appearance. I like how Candy chose to use drums instead of loafs. If you can make a winner breast you're a good pitmaster IMO.

            Problem with sliced chicken slices is that they dry out really, really fast! Best sliced breast I've ever judged came from a skin-on boneless breast sliced in about 1/2 inch slices and kept close together in the box. It was wonderful!

            I quite cheerfully disagree with your comment "BS with current judging standards." and with Meathead starting his own sanctioning group. It's kinda like every really good cook starting their own restaurant. There's a lot more to it than putting out a good plate of food. Meathead's expertise in doing what he does is unmatched out there. Why should he get in the weeds of BBQ judging?

            Same thing with running a BBQ contest, especially something that is subjectively based. I am very biased towards KCBS but I also know quite a bit about IBCA as well. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and I enjoy both for different reasons. Regardless of umbrella organization, the best thing about BBQ competition is that cooks can truly help each other without feeling like there is advantage given or taken. Every cook out there is subject to the tastebuds of 6 individuals judging.


            • Huskee
              Huskee commented
              Editing a comment
              I see your point about cooks being able to help one another, a perspective I hadn't thought about, which the current method of judging surely helps. I stand by my agreement w/ Meathead though that a winner should be chosen by who deserves to be a winner. Like he's alluded to before we don't pick a Superbowl winner by who collectively performed the best on 4 categories during each game; we pick who WON. I guess there's no perfect way to do it.

              Thanks for your words of wisdom Candy!

            So now you have me wondering about this whole contest thing. I have been thinking about dipping my toe into the contest world (although it would be a couple of local small contests) and this post makes me wonder if it is worth the effort. I have seen several statements that pit masters do not cook the same for their families and friends as they do the judges. They have to have that little edge/kick so to speak. So if it's not primarily on taste (and yes I agree presentation should be good to a point) is it worth it? It looks like there are a whole lot of variables to even be in the running. I mean seriously, how does one go from number 1 to number 48 using the same recipe? If the judging is that skewed.......? I'd thought seriously about going to some judging classes to get a leg up on what judges are looking for but now I am wondering if even that would help. Let me know what you guys think. Since I've never done a contest before I'm all about any help/info you can give me. Thanks in advance.


              There's lots and lots of factors that can send an entry from 1st to 48th! Synergy of the judges at the table is first. Is the table comprised of low scoring judges? This didn't happen in chicken for me. I was last on the table out of 5 entries. The 3rd place and 10th place winners came from the same table. Perhaps these judges just didn't like legs! That's happened and that's why so many cooks are stuck on thighs. What order was my entry? Was it the first entry the judges saw or the last? I think it makes a difference. My chicken is spicy. Maybe that's what dinged me with these judges. Spicy chicken works well in and around Arkansas. Maybe they don't like it in Georgia. These were different judges than I normally see.

              I compete because I love it! I've met the best people from all across the country and world, cooking and judging barbeque. The thrill of maybe getting a call at the awards is hard to repeat.

              A cook who has been much, much more successful told me once, "It's not the best BBQ that wins a contest, it's the least offensive." Since the lowest judge score is dropped, this is very, very true.

              If I was starting out thinking of competing, I'd take Warren County Pork Choppers' cooking class. Right now, Donny is at the top of the Team of the Year pile for 2014 and he tied the first place winner last year. Judging class will tell you about the scoring system and serve you some (probably bad) entries to practice judge. The reason to become a CBJ is to judge an event and see what other cooks are turning in. Even then, you'll only see 5-7 entries in each category. But judging can be a real eye-opener for cooks!


                Candy, in your experience then, is spicy the more offensive route? I would've thought it so. I would think only a few out of the whole would appreciate spicy. You've obviously won 1st with it so you timed it right there!


                  Hard to say -- I think I just got lucky with that first with legs! It'll be interesting to see how it does in Fulton, MS on 8/16 and Amelia Island, FL on 8/23. I'm considering switching to thighs for these two contests though.


                  • The Burn
                    The Burn commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Hmm, I might be in the Amelia Island area on the 23rd after a college drop-off. What's the competition/event?

                  Great Southern Tailgate Cook-Off is right on the beach! Just looked at the team list and there's some pretty fierce competition there. I cooked it last in 2011 and did pretty well then with a 6th overall. I've been trying to get back for the last 2 years. Fire kept me close to home in 2012, got hit from behind in Hattiesburg, MS last year. Maybe this year will be better!


                    Did your recipe yesterday and had really tasty results. My wife didn't realize that the legs were going to sit in a faux cambro for 30 min. so we ate most of the chicken right off of the grill. Temped the legs to a minimum of 170+, some were higher as the pieces were smaller. Juices literally exploded out of the chicken when bitten into. Very moist. My kids prefer breast meat usually but were wowed by the flavor and juiciness. I only had one piece with dinner because I wanted to try the legs from the faux cambro. My wife and I split a leg after the requisite 30 min. and WOW!!
                    This recipe will be used for my competition on November

                    Thanks CandySue!!
                    Last edited by FLBuckeye; August 12, 2014, 09:20 AM.



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