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Qbert60
09-04-2013, 10:36 AM
Hey All!

Here are a few things that are running through my mind and I just thought I would get everyone's opinion.

Chicken - Maybe just for judges, but how come I here sooooo many bad opinions about cupcake or muffin tin chicken? I understand that it looks like chicken meatballs, but they are uniform. I used to cook them, but I switched to a muffin loaf pan. Now I get pretty little rectangles.

Ribs - Gives me a damn headache. Either over cooked or undercooked for me. I have teams put them on so early, and they finish just on time. So do mine, and they taste good, but just not quite there. Do you error on the of sweet or spicy? In one contest, my ribs were SPICY!, but it was my best finish this year. I toned down the spice, thinking that is why I didn't crack the top 10, and I finished 26th in recently. WTF? I know I can cook them, but I haven't found the finish line yet.

Pork - Finally! I have done good the past 2 comps. What do teams put in the boxes? Pulled? MM? Chunks?

Brisket - Is bark on brisket a big deal to the judges? I can never seem to get a good bark. Up until the last comp, haven't got a good smoke ring either. Do different cookers produce better smoke rings? or even good bark?

I look forward to all your opinions!

kenthanson
09-04-2013, 10:54 AM
Chicken-Don't care for the chicken balls myself, but that's mostly out of laziness, anything that adds more time to chicken in O-U-T OUT! Our chicken was dead on this year, 4th, 2nd, 2nd, and the 4th probably should have been a 2nd but as I was building the box I dropped a piece of chicken sauce side down and when I picked it up it was covered in parsley, so appearance score stunk!

Ribs-We got destroyed on ribs, bad bad bad. We gotta add some spice to our rub and get better product.

Pork-We turn in MM, chunk and pulled. Next year gonna try just MM and chunk, PP turns mushy and cold and gross. Had some real good products turned in this year for pork, just need to refine it a little.

Brisket-Which was once a nemesis meat has now become a money meat, we don't get a super great bark cooking on our WSM's but by the time it gets to the box we can't really tell either way. Turned in burnt ends in comp 2 and 3 and that's probably what got us paid because the slices weren't great. Had a foreign object on one of our slices this year so that wasn't a great feeling. One issue we have to resolve is that the bottom of our briskets get crisp and than we can't cut all the way through with our big slicer in one cut, so we end up with "saw" marks.

Lake Dogs
09-04-2013, 01:16 PM
Summary first: A picture is worth a thousand words. Refer to bbqcritic.com for lots and lots of turn-in box pics. Also, if you can, judge a few contests. The experience will pretty much answer all your questions above.

Chicken: I think it's a bad idea to present food that doesn't look necessarily like food, especially when it draws images of something disgusting (when MM's look like turds). That said, uniformity does tend to add to the appeal factor in most anything, but I think it can be over-done. Also, I think the little balls of luv are largely played out...

Ribs: Nail tenderness and most everything else will fall in line. Know that they firm up quite a bit from the time you slice them to the time the judge opens that box. Watch your tenderness scores; when you hit 9's see if your overall performance here does put you in the top 10% or so...

Pork: Refer to bbqcritic.com for pics and discussions on this. Know that some of it is regional. For example, if it's sliced here, it **** sure better be MM. Otherwise it will get trounced. If chopped, trounced. Pulled into chunks is the most part, showing tubes and nice bark. But then, bbqcritic.com will show this to you...

Brisket: I've only cooked on my Lang (RF offset) and it gets a wonderful bark and smoke ring naturally... I can't speak for other smokers. Judges aren't supposed to judge appearance on bark and smoke ring, but if it doesn't taste awesome to them, the taste score will reflect it....

Ford
09-04-2013, 01:38 PM
Hey All!

Here are a few things that are running through my mind and I just thought I would get everyone's opinion.

Chicken - Maybe just for judges, but how come I here sooooo many bad opinions about cupcake or muffin tin chicken? I understand that it looks like chicken meatballs, but they are uniform. I used to cook them, but I switched to a muffin loaf pan. Now I get pretty little rectangles. ignore the negatives on chicken posted here. Learn to trim knuckles, trim fat and scrape skin. I use the mini loaf pan.

Ribs - Gives me a damn headache. Either over cooked or undercooked for me. I have teams put them on so early, and they finish just on time. So do mine, and they taste good, but just not quite there. Do you error on the of sweet or spicy? In one contest, my ribs were SPICY!, but it was my best finish this year. I toned down the spice, thinking that is why I didn't crack the top 10, and I finished 26th in recently. WTF? I know I can cook them, but I haven't found the finish line yet.
over, as already stated they will firm up in the time they sit waiting for judging. Put some cut ribs off to the side and don't eat until 12:45. Spicy sweet. Our cooking for one bite. I use a heavy coating or rub, and when wrapping try at least a half lb. of brown sugar with lots of butter per slab. Don't be afraid o use extra. If you can eat more than 2 ribs its probably not enough.

Pork - Finally! I have done good the past 2 comps. What do teams put in the boxes? Pulled? MM? Chunks? you put in as many choices s you can. MM, sliced pork, chunks, pulled or tubes. Only put it in if you think it's real good. It's often a turnin time decision.

Brisket - Is bark on brisket a big deal to the judges? I can never seem to get a good bark. Up until the last comp, haven't got a good smoke ring either. Do different cookers produce better smoke rings? or even good bark?bark. When wrapping it tends to decrease bark texture. It's a trade off for tenderness. You can always put back on for an hour before turnin. Cooker can impact bark when it's real dry in the cooker. Amount of meat in cooker has major impact on moisture in pit. Smoke ring is not judged. A few chemicals can add great smoke ring in the oven.

I look forward to all your opinions!
Hope this helps.

bbq.tom
09-04-2013, 01:50 PM
I'm a judge who cooks occasionally, but I'll answer this as a judge who has spoken with and listened to MANY judges, so this ISN'T MY personal opinion, but what I've heard over the years that I've judged.

Chicken - it seems that the "newess" of cupcake or muffin tin chicken has worn off. More and more judges are looking at these meatballs as not exactly appetizing anymore. We are to judge "as presented", but if it doesn't look very appetizing it will suffer in Appearance score.

Ribs - If you "have" to either over-cook them or under-cook them I would highly suggest that you over-cook them! Comments that I've heard from judges are that they will score down slightly for overcooked, but significantly for undercooked. EASY on the spice - the judges are writing down the scores as the last thing on the taste buds remain from each entry. If it is too spicy it will hurt. Judges must cleanse their pallet before tasting the next rib and it gets difficult with too much spice from the previous rib.

Pork - ONLY put in the box what is GOOD! Take time with the box so that it looks like the cook cared how it went in. I.e., if you put in a pile of pulled, kind of align the strands all one way. Have the bark either throughout or on the ends, but not just wherever in the box. Just suggestions as heard from other judges. More and more we see pulled, chunks, AND MM in the boxes. Just make sure one of them won't hurt you. They are not all required and better be pretty good if they are all in the pool.

Brisket - bark is big for Appearance for most judges. It just looks better with a good bark on it usually. Smoke ring is NOT judged. Does it look good, yes, but judges are to disregard a smoke ring - no extra credit for having one nor deduction for not having one.

peterz
09-05-2013, 08:09 AM
Me, as a KCBS CBJ can tell u one thing- If u can make good brisket burnt ends then put them in for sure. Judges love good burnt ends !

CivilWarBBQ
09-05-2013, 04:39 PM
Me, as a KCBS CBJ can tell u one thing- If u can make good brisket burnt ends then put them in for sure. Judges love good burnt ends !

Caution!

What most hardcore BBQ people think of as a "burnt end" is NOT what KCBS judges are looking for. If you turn in anything that has a crunch or chew to it, the judges will hammer you on texture.

When the average KCBS judge says "burnt end", what they really mean is "soft cube of brisket, not necessarily cut from the point".

bigzthamoose
09-05-2013, 04:49 PM
that comment right there, is where im struggling... i do make good burnt ends,,,, real burnt ends, but the fact that im not the only one who realizes that judges are looking for soft cubes of brisket, makes me not want to turn them in... dilemmas...

Big Mike
09-05-2013, 06:50 PM
That is why I don't turn in burnt ends.

bbq.tom
09-05-2013, 07:17 PM
I'm a Master Judge as well as a cook and I can tell you that I KNOW what a BE is! I have a real problem with the characterization that "KCBS judges" don't know what a BE is, or the "average KCBS judge" etc., etc., etc.

The problem that I see is that there are MANY cook teams out there that DON'T have a clue about a BE, and just put in cubed flat.

There may be an occasional judge that doesn't know, but I honestly believe that MOST of the CBJs know a BE from a cube of flat.

Hawg Father of Seoul
09-05-2013, 09:56 PM
I'm a Master Judge as well as a cook and I can tell you that I KNOW what a BE is! I have a real problem with the characterization that "KCBS judges" don't know what a BE is, or the "average KCBS judge" etc., etc., etc.

The problem that I see is that there are MANY cook teams out there that DON'T have a clue about a BE, and just put in cubed flat.

There may be an occasional judge that doesn't know, but I honestly believe that MOST of the CBJs know a BE from a cube of flat.

Burnt ends aren't supposed to be soft on the outside either.

Let me say that I have never turned in flat for burnt ends, but so what? There is a lot of thin flat that actually SHOULD be burnt end. I just trim that off before the cook, but that would be a burnt end in the truest sense of the term.

CivilWarBBQ
09-05-2013, 10:39 PM
I'm a Master Judge as well as a cook and I can tell you that I KNOW what a BE is! I have a real problem with the characterization that "KCBS judges" don't know what a BE is, or the "average KCBS judge" etc., etc., etc.

The problem that I see is that there are MANY cook teams out there that DON'T have a clue about a BE, and just put in cubed flat.

There may be an occasional judge that doesn't know, but I honestly believe that MOST of the CBJs know a BE from a cube of flat.

As am I.

I did not say that all KCBS judges "don't know what a BE is", I simply explained what the expectation is when you say "burnt end" in the context of a KCBS contest. I'd also go so far to say as it is less that cook teams "don't have a clue" than they are simply doing what scores well. Along with sticky sweet chicken pillows and sliced money muscle, cooks and judges together have evolved the defacto standards for what is winning BBQ on the KCBS circuit.

No use in getting mad or pointing fingers - I am simply passing along the State of the Contest facts to somebody new, nothing more.

CBQ
09-05-2013, 11:57 PM
I'd also go so far to say as it is less that cook teams "don't have a clue" than they are simply doing what scores well.

Absolutely true. Cubes do better than real burnt ends, and cooks turn in what gets rewarded.

bbq.tom
09-06-2013, 09:44 AM
Absolutely true. Cubes do better than real burnt ends, and cooks turn in what gets rewarded.


Then stop calling them burnt ends.
Simply call them what they are = cubes.

Rookie'48
09-06-2013, 10:16 AM
. . . Judges aren't supposed to judge appearance on bark and smoke ring ....

At least for a KCBS contest you're not supposed to judge the smoke ring.

Judging the bark for appearance, taste & tenderness is quite all right when you go by the standard of "as presented by the cook". If not, then how do we judge a MM that is presented straight-up sliced (not laying down or "shingled") that has bark all over it? :-P

Pappy Q
09-07-2013, 04:37 AM
I guess certain judges have an expectation of what a BE should be and if they don't get that they will score you down regardless of the appearance, taste and tenderness of the product.