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View Full Version : Perfecting the edible Chicken skin


River City Smokehouse
02-04-2006, 07:14 AM
I see a lot of discussion on a couple of message boards that I frequent about the skin of finished chicken thighs for compettion turn-ins. To me it seems that many people either get tired of not achieving the ultimate skin doneness or they just don't want to mess with it because it requires a lot of effort and constant testing. I don't really know but in the past it had been an issue with me and I wanted to get it right.
I'm not saying that I am perfect in any way, but I have finally come to a place that I am comfortable enough to have confidence in my finished chicken thighs with the skin on. I have finally been able to turn my chicken in and not stress about whether or not the skin is edible enough for a judge or a family member or even a friend.
I have eaten so much chicken in the past that sometimes I feel like laying an egg. I kept on cooking sometimes only chicken to work on the skin. Even if I only cooked 4 pieces at a time. I would work all night thinking about it and when I would get home from work I would BBQ before going to bed. I think that it doesn't help anyone's scores if you get rid of the skin hoping it will keep your texture scores from dropping.
I know as a judge(newly certified) I would knock the score down for someone removing the skin. Right or wrong, it would send a signal to me that the cook could not produce a skin that could be turned in. I know that watching the fat wouldn't have been a factor in why it was removed.
I stress to all BBQ cooks as a cook myself to keep working on the ultimate chicken skin. There is a reward in the end. Once you get it down, it's smooth sailing from there. I am now re-working my ribs. I have a lot of work ahead of me too.

kcpellethead
02-04-2006, 08:59 AM
In the KCBS judging certification class, judges are taught to judge each entry on it's own merit, and not to compare entries. Based on that instruction, your remarks about judging someone down for presenting chicken without skin concern me. You just completed the judging school in St. Louis and already you're putting your own unique spin on how to judge competition barbecue. This attitude speaks to the very heart of the issues raised on this forum and others about judging consistency. There is a judging class for a reason. It's not like a cooking class, where you can take away only the parts that you felt were useful or worthwhile. It's the instruction necessary to create consistent, meaningful evaluation of competition barbecue. Obviously there is subjectivity involved, especially in taste and appearance. However, for you to decide that chicken presented to you without skin is somehow inferior to the other entries at your table is wrong, plain and simple.

Paola Greg
02-04-2006, 11:01 AM
I would knock the score down for someone removing the skin.
That comment really disturbs me. Any legal entry I turn in, I expect to be judged on its own merit, and in accordance with the KCBS rules and regulations.

River City Smokehouse
02-04-2006, 01:20 PM
Ok, Rod, Yes I am a new cert. and I won't claim to know it all especially KCBS judging. After I have judged many a contest over the next few years then I may have a different outlook on it. In your expert opinion, if you were sitting at the judging table and you had two seperate entries put in front of you one with skin and one without would you not at least give the one with skin a point higher in apperance since it didn't look raped? I personally like the looks of a piece of chicken with the skin on it. I think it was said by Ed Roith during the class that all the taste in chicken is in the skin. The skin has to be tasted in order to get the real flavor of the piece of chicken. I was totally awake during the class. Did I misunderstand him?

Smoker
02-04-2006, 01:45 PM
Normally I would think a piece of chicken with the skin on it would get a higher score in presentation as it does look nicer. As far as taste goes, I will judge the chicken on how it tastes to me, with or without skin. I would think the piece without skin might get a better score from me since the chicken with skin can chew funny because of the rubber skin.

Paola Greg
02-04-2006, 02:50 PM
Skinless thighs here. If the skin would have been left on, they would have scored better in apperance??

Greg

MrSmoker
02-04-2006, 02:52 PM
They look good to me,i've seen thighs with skin on that didn't look that good.How did you cook them?

jminion
02-04-2006, 04:27 PM
Ok, Rod, Yes I am a new cert. and I won't claim to know it all especially KCBS judging. After I have judged many a contest over the next few years then I may have a different outlook on it. In your expert opinion, if you were sitting at the judging table and you had two seperate entries put in front of you one with skin and one without would you not at least give the one with skin a point higher in apperance since it didn't look raped? I personally like the looks of a piece of chicken with the skin on it. I think it was said by Ed Roith during the class that all the taste in chicken is in the skin. The skin has to be tasted in order to get the real flavor of the piece of chicken. I was totally awake during the class. Did I misunderstand him?

As someone who teaches the judging class what I tell people is if the chicken is turned in skin on you must take a bite of the skin and meat because it is part of the flavor print. If it is turned in skinless then judge it as such.
To read into that it is somehow inferior if it is skinless is in disagreement with the spirit of the job you have agreed to do.

As a judge let say you like dark meat better than white, if you can't objectively give a great chicken breast a good score because it is not a thigh then you should ask yourself if you should be judging?

I'm not taking issue with you but the idea is to judge what you are presented and ascertain if the cook achieved what they were going for.
Judge what you are presented and don't read into it, just what you are presented.
Jim

G$
02-04-2006, 05:52 PM
Skinless thighs here. If the skin would have been left on, they would have scored better in apperance??

Greg

All those are skinless? kinda looks like there is skin on at least some. Must be the thick glaze. Interesting.

Sawdustguy
02-04-2006, 08:41 PM
This doesn't surprise me at all. Back in September when I took the judging class I couldn't believe my ears why people marked entries down. I just wish people took this a bit more serious and actually listened to the instructor during the judging class.

Jeff_in_KC
02-04-2006, 11:46 PM
I think the biggest issue here is that all judges are human and no matter what they learn in a class, there's going to come a time when they'll judge something based on their personal preferences rather than the merits of the sample. I'm sure that happens at every contest and truth be known, nearly every judge. I think it's human nature to do so even if on occasion. And I think it sometimes happens without the judge actually even realizing they're doing it. Does that make sense? I realize that I was new to the judging end of things by just taking the class but I found myself at times trying to block from my mind how another sample looked compared to the one I was currently scoring. I had thoughts like "Oh crap, there I go again! I know I'm not supposed to be doing that! Why am I doing it?" So it occurs to me that it is entirely possible that human nature makes it a constant struggle to do what you've been taught rather than do what comes natural and that's judging a piece of meat with your personal preferences in mind. I believe it is an in-exact science and from what I learned, regardless of what some folks might say, judges have a tough job and I commend those who are respectfully doing their damnedest to do a good job!

ique
02-05-2006, 08:57 AM
In the KCBS judging certification class, judges are taught to judge each entry on it's own merit, and not to compare entries.

Didn't Ed Roith, KCBS' official judge instructor, break this rule during All Star BBQ on OLN? Para-phrasing, "sauce means they are covering up poorly cooked meat".

No Ed, the Cook thought it tasted good with sauce, judge it as such.

I know OLN wasnt using KCBS rules but I have heard this sentiment from KCBS judges, including Ed who is supposed to teach the right way. Not trying to bash Ed here, just pointing it out that its not only River City who judges this way.

rookiedad
02-05-2006, 09:34 AM
i have not even been in a competition and i already have something very controversial to say about this whole judging thing, i just have not thought of the right words to put it in and i don't want anyone to misunderstand me, so maybe after the superbowl! thanks.
phil

Yakfishingfool
02-05-2006, 10:33 AM
I know I'm a newbie, but isn;t the skin part of the chicken? Are boneless entries allowed? If the physical attribute of the part in questions has skin on it shouldn;t it be left on? I know, I know, I;m not talking about trimming unnecessary fat off the meat/chicken. I'm talking about gross anatomy of the bird. If no skin...I;d be tempted to go no bone either. just a thought. Scott

MilitantSquatter
02-05-2006, 11:00 AM
Hi Scott - Boneless and/or skinless is allowed.

As to your point about leaving the entire phyiscal attributes on for the part in question... the answer is not per the rules.... It must be remembered that the contest is focused on the meat, not the skin or lack thereof...However I do recall it was recently brought up at a KCBS meeting that it is against the rules to submit pulled rib-meat only without the bone as in this case the bone is an integral part of the entry that defines it as a rib.

Jeff - I think you make very valid points even if some may not agree. It is very possible that even if conciously you are following the rules as written, there could very well be some subconcious factor that goes into what you write on the judges scorecard based on what you like.

kcpellethead
02-05-2006, 11:26 AM
Didn't Ed Roith, KCBS' official judge instructor, break this rule during All Star BBQ on OLN? Para-phrasing, "sauce means they are covering up poorly cooked meat".

No Ed, the Cook thought it tasted good with sauce, judge it as such.

I know OLN wasnt using KCBS rules but I have heard this sentiment from KCBS judges, including Ed who is supposed to teach the right way. Not trying to bash Ed here, just pointing it out that its not only River City who judges this way.

Hey Chris,

Good to see you over here. You answered your own question. The All Star BBQ on OLN has absolutely nothing to do with KCBS judging class instruction. All Star was "made for TV."

River City Smokehouse
02-05-2006, 12:30 PM
Ok, I see the guidelines to properly judging chicken by KCBS standards and it does clarify that it may be turned in with or without skin and should be judged and score not be affected by the way it is turned in. I can do that but it doesn't mean that I am in total agreeance with that.
This also brings me to another question.
Wouldn't judging the chicken without the skin be like judging the rib without the bone? It was said in judging class that it should pull cleanly away from the bone. The skin is an intregal part as well isn't it? I'm just trying to make sense of it all.

rookiedad
02-05-2006, 06:28 PM
perhaps trying to get a bbq competition fairly is like trying to put shoes on a duck! i'm not calling into question the credibility of the judges, i'm sure they try to be as fair as possible, its just that there is no standard to be judged against. its not a public kind of thing where the results can be scrutinized by spectators or other competitors and when it gets right down to it it is all based on personal opinion anyway. all these factors and i'm sure some more contribute to it being very hard IMHO to get a bbq competition judged fairly and objectivly. please do not take offense to this. i would like to hear what others have to say. thanks.
phil

The_Kapn
02-05-2006, 07:23 PM
"its just that there is no standard to be judged against."

I understand your frustration, but--It is food, not a mix of chemicals.
It can not be reduced to numbers or tolerances.
Food quality is not objectively measurable any more than "what is the best restaurant in town?" type discussions.
I also would love to see lots of definitive guidance, both as a judge and as a cook. But, we work with what we have.
On a personal level--I was a "regulator" and helped write the rules for Army Aviation for a long time. You know what? Almost every time we changed or added a rule or some guidance--it created more problems than the one we were trying to solve. Should have "Kept it Simple, Stupid" in retrospect in many cases. Rule and guidance changes need to go slowly or it just muckies up the origonal problem, IMHO!

I closely watch the results from all the contests from all the sanctioning bodies around the nation--here is what I see.
There are quality teams that score well no matter where they go and no matter whom they compete with. Does not matter what the judging pool is--they are normally at the top. It really does not even matter what the rule changes are. They can cook- and they do it well.
Then, they will have a period where they lose focus or become distracted or "whatever" and they slip in the standings for awhile. And, anyone can have a bad week ir draw a "low table". But, they come back.

You see other teams show up and struggle for a period of time. They learn their craft, refine their product, and move up in the standings. And, this is again no matter what the judging pool or rules are, week in and week out. They learn to cook and suceed.

So, to me, the judging system works in the big picture. Not in every event for every competitor, but in the scheme of things.

I also know the two sanctioning bodies I work with (KCBS and FBA) are working hard to make the playing field as level as can be for the teams. My hat is off to them. Not perfect, never will be, but getting better each event I cook in or judge.

But, for you who are just starting out next year, may I suggest that you go cook and learn. No one is going to be able to list the requirements for a perfect entry
(Taking a break here --the Stones are doing "Satisfaction")--fitting!:lol:

Your first efforts may surprise you!
Then, you practice, hook up with more experienced cooks (at an event-not on line), get certified to judge and do it, and it will all come together for you.

All meant to be postitive here--chill out and have fun with the competetion cooking. That is what it is all about!

TIM

Kevin
02-05-2006, 07:31 PM
Good message Tim. Thank you.

Jeff_in_KC
02-05-2006, 07:33 PM
Good points, all, Tim. The stars continue to shine, regardless of the judging crews. I think it just goes to show they (the sanctioning bodies) must be doing SOMETHING right.

Sawdustguy
02-05-2006, 08:26 PM
perhaps trying to get a bbq competition fairly is like trying to put shoes on a duck! i'm not calling into question the credibility of the judges, i'm sure they try to be as fair as possible, its just that there is no standard to be judged against. its not a public kind of thing where the results can be scrutinized by spectators or other competitors and when it gets right down to it it is all based on personal opinion anyway. all these factors and i'm sure some more contribute to it being very hard IMHO to get a bbq competition judged fairly and objectivly. please do not take offense to this. i would like to hear what others have to say. thanks.
phil

Phil,

The judge should only base his score on how it tastes, how tender it is and how it looks. It should make no difference what cut of meat you are asked to judge as long as it is legal. If people could put their prejudices aside and do what they were asked to for only a couple of hours the judging would be much fairer. To me this doesn't seem like a very hard thing to do. If people could put their preconcieved opinions away for just a few hours. It's not hard to do if you try.