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MaxBobcat
04-13-2013, 11:41 PM
I have never been much of a chicken cooker. Or even much of a chicken-on-the-bone eater to be perfectly honest.

However, I want to start competing in IBCA competitions and smoking a half-chicken is one of the required meats. This documents my first attempt. Since I had two birds and was going to halve them, I decided to attempt 4 different styles.

Birds: One 4.5lb Sanderson Farms Fryer Chicken
One 4.1lb Smart Chicken Air-Chilled Fryer Chicken

Rub: For my rub I used a modified version of the Slap yo Daddy All-Purpose Rub. I did not include the Cumin or Orange Tang, but everything else was the same.

Brine: Cup of Kosher Salt and Cup of White Sugar to a gallon of water for each bird. Plus a couple tablespoons of the SYD Rub.

Sauce: Stubb's Spicy & Stubb's Honey Pecan

Injection: Stubb's Texas Butter

Pit: WSM 22.5"

Charcoal: Kingsford Blue

Wood: Apple

Beer: Blue Moon

Style #1: SYD Rub only
Style #2: SYD Rub and glazed with thinned Honey Pecan Sauce
Style #3: SYD Rub and Injected with Texas Butter
Style #4: SYD Rub, Injected with Texas Butter, and glazed with thinned Spicy Sauce

Process: Brined both birds for 8 hours whole after a good rinse. I then spatchcocked the birds and cut them in half. I put the rub in shaker and put it on all four halves. Two of the birds were injected with the Stubb's Texas Butter. I put them on the pit at 275 degrees. When they got to an internal temperature of around 145, I glazed two of them. I planned on pulling them at 165ish, so I figured glazing at them at 145ish would give the glaze time to set. I thinned down my sauces with Blue Moon. When the four halves got to internal temps of 165-175, I pulled all of them. They were on the smoker for about 90 minutes.

Results:
Style #1: I did not like it. It was much to dry, the skin was completely rubbery and there wasn't much spice flavor in the bird. There was some decent smokey flavor on the white meat, but it was definitely the worst of the bunch.

Style #2: Visually, the most appealing of all four. The Stubb's Honey Pecan Sauce I thinned down looked fantastic. In the bottle, it was thick and had a weird taste. Too sweet for me. Thinned with Blue Moon and then glazed on the bird, it tasted a lot better. Still, the chicken was too dry and the skin was too rubbery.

Style #3: Kind of ugly on the outside, but it made up for it in flavor. The bird was much juicier than the first two thanks to the injection. There were definite pockets of injection that I wish would have been more spread out throughout the meat, but it tasted good. Skin still rubbery.

Style #4: Very similar taste wise to #3, but with a better color. Only #2 looked better than this one. Skin still rubbery.

Judging my cook, I give myself a 4/10 on appearance, 7/10 on taste, and 1/10 on bite-through skin.

Pictures:

Getting ready to inject
http://www.freeimagehosting.net/t/ge888.jpg (http://www.freeimagehosting.net/ge888)

During the cook
http://www.freeimagehosting.net/t/z2oxw.jpg (http://www.freeimagehosting.net/z2oxw)

All four chicken halves done
http://www.freeimagehosting.net/t/1lv27.jpg (http://www.freeimagehosting.net/1lv27)

Style #2. Best color of the bunch.
http://www.freeimagehosting.net/t/qu59s.jpg (http://www.freeimagehosting.net/qu59s)

Showing the butter injection
http://www.freeimagehosting.net/t/untvv.jpg (http://www.freeimagehosting.net/untvv)

I would like some constructive criticism. I know I have a lot of work before I can dream about doing well in the chicken category at a comp. For those of you that have done IBCA comps, do injected chickens score poorly? I like injected birds, but I can understand just wanting the chicken and smoke flavor.

Next time I plan on smoking the birds at 275 for 50-60 mins and then finishing on the grill at 375 for > 10 minutes.

JS-TX
04-14-2013, 01:21 AM
Well from here they all look great. I don't think injected birds score low, I've done it once but it was a big comp so it's hard to gauge it overall. I think if you cooked them @300-325* you would have better skin. I'm still working on my method but every practice helps. If you never judged a comp, I say go for it, you will learn a lot just seeing what others are turning in.

Smoke'n Ice
04-14-2013, 09:30 AM
IBCA is judged with a knife and fork. You get one score from each of a group of people who were asked to judge and it can even be husband and wife at the same table. The score is 1-10 of 'it was good or it sucks.' If it gets off the first table, then the same chicken is judged again using a knife and fork. What I am trying to say is, appearance has very little, if anything, to do with your score.

Most cook it hot and fast and glaze during the last 15 minutes prior to turnin to set the glaze. I cook mine at 350 indirect and it takes about an hour to include the glaze time. Make darn sure that the thigh area reaches 165 degrees or you will get a dq for red juice on the napkin test. Once the thigh reaches 165, it's done, get it off. With experience you will know when to put it on the cooker so it comes off 15 minutes before turnin. Don't worry too much about hot or cold to the judges table as it will be cold if you go to the finals table.

Make sure the first bite has a wow factor.

RangerJ
04-14-2013, 10:00 AM
All good advice above and I think your doing quite well for first attempt.

I'm big on appearance myself but you will see guys and gals next to you on galvanized steel Ol' Smokey's with rusted out bottoms that burn their birds until almost black walking just as often as pretty birds, so dont focus so much on that as a tender, juicy bite that "pops". You don't have to worry about bite through skin, your just trying to avoid skin that comes all off when that first judges cuts it.

Also, I know this was just practiced but I'm concerned one bird only has 1/2 of the tip, and one bird is missing it. It can be burnt to a crisp with ketchup poured on it but no tip, no turn in.

GrillsGoneWild
04-14-2013, 01:34 PM
^^^^ Yep, better make sure tips are on your birds or your get a DQ. Like said above, don't worry about appearance too much. Just make it look yummy and has a good one bite taste to it.

MaxBobcat
04-14-2013, 09:20 PM
^^^^ Yep, better make sure tips are on your birds or your get a DQ. Like said above, don't worry about appearance too much. Just make it look yummy and has a good one bite taste to it.

Yeah, i tried two different brands of chickens and one brand had the wings clipped. I will be sure to get all the birds with intact wings next time.

jmoney7269
04-14-2013, 11:24 PM
Chicken looks good. One siggestion I would add would be to remove the drip pan/water bowl and allow your chicken to cook direct. That is a typical BBQ flavor profile that does well in Tx. Chicken fat on the coals makes such a big difference in flavor. Lump charcoals not kbb. Also a higher cook temp around 325-350 to get the malliard reaction going

bruno994
04-18-2013, 09:03 AM
Looks good.
Make sure and pull the skin back tight with some toothpicks, 2 purposes, appearance and protection for the meat.
I completely agree with the others, gotta have some pop for that one bite, whether it be via brine, rub or injection.

Andrew
04-18-2013, 10:01 AM
still new to competition, but where is a good place to poke the hole to check the temp without messing up the appearance too bad?

bruno994
04-18-2013, 11:13 AM
I don't probe anymore, I know that after a certain time span on my pit at a certain temp, they are done. But when I did probe, I always did it in the breast, from the end (or side depending on how you look at it), then once I glazed or sauced, you could not tell where I had probed at any way. I won't probe the thigh, since I cook them to above 175 in the breast, the thighs will be done for sure.

Andrew
04-18-2013, 12:41 PM
I don't probe anymore, I know that after a certain time span on my pit at a certain temp, they are done. But when I did probe, I always did it in the breast, from the end (or side depending on how you look at it), then once I glazed or sauced, you could not tell where I had probed at any way. I won't probe the thigh, since I cook them to above 175 in the breast, the thighs will be done for sure.

i cooked a half chicken last weekend to the breast at 175 and it was dry :(

Swamp Donkeyz BBQ
04-18-2013, 12:57 PM
I put my chicken on with the dark meat closest to the heat source and probe the thigh. You can't see the probe mark after glazing.

bruno994
04-19-2013, 09:51 AM
i cooked a half chicken last weekend to the breast at 175 and it was dry :(
Brine....

BigCountryBBQ
04-19-2013, 03:42 PM
I have brined, injected, injected & brined. IMHO injectin is the way to go. Much faster and gets flavor deep into yardbird. Sanderson Farms is a good brand to use. I prefer yardbirds to be around 4 pounds. They are easier to fit into the trays, cook a little faster than the larger birds. You are cookin way to low a temp to get thin crispy skin.

I cook at 375 indirect on a weber kettle and actually count the briquetts at 50. temp in kettle will get to 375 degrees and slowly back down to 325 degrees. If cookin indirect this will not burn the bird.

Glaze the last 15 minutes. birds will be done in 75 minutes or so. Birds vary depending on conditions of humidity, wind, etc. they are done when done. I always chech the internal temp in the thigh. slip thermapen into thigh parallell to bone & not next to bone. When it says 170 degrees that bird is done and breast will be very moist at about 160 to 162 degrees. Fine line between a perfect bird and a dry bird. I do not recommend checkin temp in breast as juices will be lost and most judges will taste the breast. Bird needs to rest 15 minutes before turnin. If not, when judges cut into the breast all the juices will run out and bird will be dry before all judges have tasted. If it moves on to finals tables ir will be like pasty dry if you do not allow the bird to rest.

try judging a few comps. The head judge can always use judges and you will see the good birds and not so good birds. On appearance, dont put too much into it. After the first cut the appearance is gone anyway.

Andrew
04-22-2013, 10:26 AM
Brine....


just having issues with a type of brine to use :(

nukenight
04-22-2013, 10:56 AM
Make sure you check the tips of the wings. We opened a chicken wrapping last weekend at a contest and one of the tips was removed! Needless to say, we had to go to the local grocery and get another one. As fate/luck would have it, we finished 2nd in chicken and won some good money. As an IBCA head judge, I always advise cooks to remember the knives and forks are PLASTIC. Make sure the skin is relatively easy to cut. In my six years of being an IBCA head judge, I've DQ'ed only a handful of raw chickens. Yes, in IBCA they DQ for raw chicken.

In terms of brine, I use a standard brine I got off the food channel, medium in salt and sugar. Good luck!

All_grilla_no_filla
04-22-2013, 07:10 PM
Yeah, i tried two different brands of chickens and one brand had the wings clipped. I will be sure to get all the birds with intact wings next time.

...whole birds have their tips removed, by design. That wouldn't be a great option for IBCA comps. I'm not sure how close you are in FtW to the Central Market off, I think, Hulen...but, in my last three comps I have a 1st and a 4th using their Organic Air-Chilled Chicken. Just another option for ya...

QTEX
04-22-2013, 11:22 PM
I never poke my turn in bird, juices run out no matter where ya poke. Always cook an extra half and poke that one, we just eat that or give it away to visitors but I always taste it first so I know exactly what I'm turning in.

rooster445
04-23-2013, 08:21 AM
I cooked some at a comp this weekend and scored 3rd cooking in a Acorn at 300 deg for an hour

JS-TX
04-23-2013, 08:29 AM
The one thing I find tricky with cooking 1/2 chickens is that they are not always cooked @165 IT. I usually have to cook them to 175* just to make sure there are no bloody joints. Anybody else have this problem?

rooster445
04-23-2013, 07:47 PM
The one thing I find tricky with cooking 1/2 chickens is that they are not always cooked @165 IT. I usually have to cook them to 175* just to make sure there are no bloody joints. Anybody else have this problem?

Yes, it always seems to me at 175 its still a little pink in the thigh joints... So I brine with a mixture of salt water and Italian dressing for 8-12 hours and cook to 185... Its very moist

QTEX
04-23-2013, 11:53 PM
Yes JSTX I do the same