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Swine Spectator
06-24-2012, 12:05 AM
Hey guys and gals,

I am a Noob to competition cooking. Lat year I entered my first comp (a non-sanctioned charity event) and placed third in chicken. I just got invited to come back and compete again.

The problem I have is that the chicken I turned in was, in my opinion, the best I have ever cooked. I bought an organic free-range chicken, brined it, and smoked it for 2 hours over pecan chips in my 22.5 Weber Performer. It was a juicy bird with a bronzed-mahogany skin. My box had sliced breast meat, pulled thighs, and the "oysters" from where the thigh connects to the backbone.

I really want to go for it this year. I would appreciate any tips or trick y'all could share with me. Any guidance on how to cook it, cut it, or box it is most appreciated.

Yours in smoke,

The Swine Spectator

Pork Barrel Project
06-24-2012, 01:18 AM
Welcome to the sometimes maddening world of competition. In a perfect world, you may have cooked the best chicken of your life last year but the two who finished ahead of you also cooked the best chicken of their lives and those entries were marginally better than yours. All you can do is do your best and leave the rest up to the judges.

Judging is subjective and the same entry today might not even get a call at all. It's a gamble and you landed at a table where the judges really liked your entry.

One thing that came to mind as I was reading your post was the number of different cuts of chicken you submitted. In one sense, when you turn in so many separate cuts, you are competing against yourself as well as the other cooks. Each cut has its own optimum sweet spot and hitting all of them at the same time (when they are presented to the judges and scored) is pretty tricky.

This next has a healthy measure of supposition but the breast meat may have been perfectly juicy when you turned in your entry but by the time it was sampled by the judges maybe some 15 to 20 minutes later, that white meat may have dried out a bit.

The dark meat may have still been spot on but the judges dinged you (as they should have) for the drier white meat since they are responsible for assessing your entry as a whole rather than picking the favorite or best part of it and scoring only that portion.

Again, this is just one scenario of what could have happened but it's plausible and I've seen it happen before in the 150 plus KCBS contests I've been to inside the judging tent in one capacity or another.

Unless the rules require you to turn in both white and dark meat, I'd seriously consider sticking with just one or the other.

You did extremely well in your first contest and I don't see where there's a pressing need to do anything significantly different next time. There is no magic bullet when it comes to appealing to judges. Take your best swing and hope you knock it out of the park.

Boshizzle
06-24-2012, 01:20 AM
In my opinion, you expect too much from the judges. Isn't that a sad thing to say? But, it's true. I doubt that very many judges even know what the oyster is on a chicken.

I wonder sometimes if KCBS judges are being "trained" on what KCBS competition BBQ is supposed to look like and taste like. As far as non-KCBS judges, that's an even wilder field. People like what they like and it's a much broader spectrum among those who are not trained and seasoned by KCBS comps.

All I can recommend is, cook something that the judges will identify with in terms of flavor and tenderness. That's what's going to count more than the real details of a well cooked chicken.

Don't get caught up in what you are hearing from the judges on this season's BBQ Pitmasters either. In a KCBS comp, you judge what you are presented, not whether or not the cook includes burnt ends, white and dark meat, bark, sliced, and/or chopped. That's just not the way things are done in KCBS judging, at least that's not how it's supposed to be.

So, turn in what the judges like to eat with their family and friends. Forget the the details of the oyster or the mixture of white and dark.

That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

Good luck!

Swine Spectator
06-24-2012, 11:33 PM
PBP and Bosh,

Solid, sound advice. Thank you for the input. You nailed it on the judges. This was a charity event and the judges were local celebrities (football player, tv weatherman, & radio DJ). I doubt they had any real background in Q.

One thing I did learn was to feed the event staff. After I submitted my comp boxes, I delivered food to the ticket booth and the beer booth. Apparently no one else thought about the workers. They were most appreciative and the beer booth even reciprocated by delivering a round of BEvERages.

David
The Swine Spectator