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View Full Version : Prepping turn-in chicken questions


TERCH
02-13-2014, 04:14 PM
I am curios how you guys go about prepping your chicken thighs. All comments suggestions insights are welcomed.

My current method is not up to snuff (consistency is mu main issue).
Brining-
Do you brine before or after de-boning? I have done both ways and get varied results. Need to fine tune the time. It is usually too salty when I de-bone first. May need to lower the salt quantity as well.
Do you brine with the skin on? Once again I have done both with varied results.

Trimming - How much meat do you remove to get the shape you desire? Do you remove and thin the skin? Again, Have done both and results varied.

I am trying to narrow down the variable to find out which parts I like best.

Thanks.

K-Train
02-13-2014, 04:19 PM
Are you rinsing the brine off when done?

hogzillas
02-13-2014, 04:33 PM
I don't debone thighs only breasts if I happen to try them in a combo box but I do brine sometimes but mostly use Italian dressing as a marinade & had better results (washed off after several hrs) that way. As to saltiness look also at the chicken you buy - is it enhanced (salt brine) or not & if so how high a concentrate is it? Trimming I just square it up get rid of some of the extraneous fat on the meat but I do try to leave more skin to fold under but also look for thinner skinned chicken (more whitish than yellowish color to it).

Being from Fl is this FBA perhaps?

MikeJ65
02-13-2014, 04:39 PM
When I use a standard salt/sugar brine, I will brine thighs for no more than two hours. If they are deboned, 1 1/2 is probably about right.

Trim for uniformity. Don't worry about how much you are taking off. Also, any meat is going to take a shape when it is cooked, so form them when you put them on. This is especially important if you debone.

cpw
02-13-2014, 04:43 PM
I don't debone, I take skins off and scrape fat and trim off any weird pieces of skin. When I trim the chicken I more or less make it rectangular, and depending on my "baseline" I'll end up taking a lot of meat off of some or very little on some to make sure they all end up close to the same size.

I brine without the skins, for a few hours with a light salt solution.

Brew-B-Q
02-13-2014, 05:36 PM
I don't take the bones out of thighs. I've brined with skin on and skins off. Skin is supposed to absorb moisture during brining, which is bad, but I've not seen it to be a problem. But it's messy with the skin on so usually just leave it off if brining.

As for saltiness, just cook up a handful of pieces in a 350 degree oven with no rub. Brine in your standard brine for different lengths of time and see which you like best. Best to tackle one variable at a time.

Remove enough meat so the skin can adhere back to the thigh if you pull it off.

Cayman1
02-13-2014, 07:29 PM
Last contest we did I brined with the skin and we were 1st place, just don't brine too long. 1 1/2 to 2 hours at most. Rinse then let dry before applying rub.

peterz
02-13-2014, 10:09 PM
Thighs are old and tired..............try something different =)

Jack Daniels
02-14-2014, 12:07 AM
Do you brine before or after de-boning?
We don't debone thighs so before. :-P

Do you brine with the skin on?
No, we brine with skins off.

Trimming - How much meat do you remove to get the shape you desire?
We trim to similar shape so how much we take off varies by piece but it is however much is needed to get that piece to look they way we want.

Do you remove and thin the skin?
Yup.

One way to resolve your brining time would be to mix up a batch of brine that you want/like and throw 10 thighs trimmed to the same size in there to brine. After 30 minutes take one thigh out, rinse it off (like you should do with brine), and set aside as #1. Then every 30 minutes after that do the same thing for #2, 3, etc. Keep them in order. In five hours you will have 10 thighs that have brined in the same bath for 30 min to five hours.

Now, do NOT add any other seasoning and do not wrap them in skins. We are trying to eliminate all the variables.

Put them in the oven (you don't want smoke - another variable/flavor) and cook at your normal temp until they are done. Now, keeping them in order 1-10 start with #1 take a bite take your notes, #2, etc. Find the two or three that you like the best and then start adding back variables slowly brining next time only for those times.

IMHO

chickenchoker
02-14-2014, 09:37 AM
I brine without skin and one knuckle removed and trimmed minimally. rinse very well then skins on and rest til morning. Morning gets injected rubbed and cooked.... has worked for me

Indybbq
02-14-2014, 10:14 AM
We don't debone thighs so before. :-P


No, we brine with skins off.


We trim to similar shape so how much we take off varies by piece but it is however much is needed to get that piece to look they way we want.


Yup.

One way to resolve your brining time would be to mix up a batch of brine that you want/like and throw 10 thighs trimmed to the same size in there to brine. After 30 minutes take one thigh out, rinse it off (like you should do with brine), and set aside as #1. Then every 30 minutes after that do the same thing for #2, 3, etc. Keep them in order. In five hours you will have 10 thighs that have brined in the same bath for 30 min to five hours.

Now, do NOT add any other seasoning and do not wrap them in skins. We are trying to eliminate all the variables.

Put them in the oven (you don't want smoke - another variable/flavor) and cook at your normal temp until they are done. Now, keeping them in order 1-10 start with #1 take a bite take your notes, #2, etc. Find the two or three that you like the best and then start adding back variables slowly brining next time only for those times.

IMHO

Great advice on figuring out the right amount of time to brine by taking one out every 30 min. Since people use different solutions and recipes it's not something you can base on a recommendation. It's so simple, not sure how I had never thought of that before! Thanks for sharing.

MikeJ65
02-14-2014, 11:32 AM
I would recommend doing your normal rubs and cooking technique with the different brine times. These things will make a difference on whether or not your chicken is 'too salty'. If you are very sweet on rubs and sauce, there can be more underlying saltiness than if you have a salty rub and less sweet sauce.

Offthehook
02-14-2014, 02:03 PM
No brine and no injection, got me a perfect score so who knows lol.

rtboswell
02-14-2014, 04:28 PM
I remove the skins and place them in the fridge to stay cold while I'm trimming the chicken into a uniform size/shape. Sometimes trim a little knuckle off, sometimes leave it alone. Vacuum seal my thighs and then scrape the skins and vacuum seal those as well in a separate bag. Once at a comp I'll brine without the skins, rinse very well, and then get a good coat of rub on them and return the skins.

82's BBQ
02-14-2014, 04:37 PM
We scrape the skin, rub, reapply skin and let it rest

Inject and cook. No brine for us

MikeJ65
02-14-2014, 05:03 PM
I remove the skins and place them in the fridge to stay cold while I'm trimming the chicken into a uniform size/shape. Sometimes trim a little knuckle off, sometimes leave it alone. Vacuum seal my thighs and then scrape the skins and vacuum seal those as well in a separate bag. Once at a comp I'll brine without the skins, rinse very well, and then get a good coat of rub on them and return the skins.

Pretty much like I do it. I do put the skins in plastic wrap and fold it after each pair so that I can just unroll it and lay out the skins when I am ready to match them up. Nothing worse than being a little bit behind the timeline and trying to gently separate a mass of chicken skin.

Jack Daniels
02-14-2014, 05:07 PM
Nothing worse than being a little bit behind the timeline and trying to gently separate a mass of chicken skin.
Heh, been there. Though we weren't really behind time so much but pulling apart a blob of chicken skins isn't exactly a night of fun.

buttburnersbbq
02-14-2014, 05:41 PM
No brine, No injections , No de bone and we only trim and scrape fat off back of skin. I hate prepping chicken. It seams to take 10 time longer than any other meat and the biggest pain. Did I say I hate prepping chicken.

Fishin4bass723
02-14-2014, 05:52 PM
I didn't think you could prep your meat before a comp? I thought you had to do all the prep on site?

Offthehook
02-14-2014, 06:06 PM
I didn't think you could prep your meat before a comp? I thought you had to do all the prep on site?
You can take meat off but not add any.

Jack Daniels
02-14-2014, 06:22 PM
I didn't think you could prep your meat before a comp? I thought you had to do all the prep on site?
Yup, at least in KCBS (and I'm guessing most other sanctioning bodies) you can trim all your meats to exactly how you want them within the rules (e.g. in KCBS the pork has to be 4lbs @ inspection time now).

Alexa RnQ
02-14-2014, 06:37 PM
We are the laziest chicken cooks ever. No deboning, no creative trimming, no skinning/scraping, and we cook 8 pieces. It's done well for us, no plans to fix what's working.

Hawg Father of Seoul
02-14-2014, 07:18 PM
We are the laziest chicken cooks ever. No deboning, no creative trimming, no skinning/scraping, and we cook 8 pieces. It's done well for us, no plans to fix what's working.

We never won chicken until we stopped all that stuff. We take a pair of scissors and trim off the ugly stuff and rock on.

Glad to hear it is not just us.

Indybbq
02-14-2014, 09:15 PM
Here's a potentially dumb question but one I've wondered whether I do things different from others.....

How do you guys rinse after a brine? Use a hose/stream of water, Dunk in container of water?

Brew-B-Q
02-15-2014, 09:25 AM
I bring 5 gallons of tap water in a jug and use it for things like rinsing meat, drinking, etc. I wouldn't use a hose. But most people probably use the sink they have.

TERCH
02-15-2014, 01:28 PM
Thanks for all the insight. Going to figure out my brine tomorrow using the 1/2 hour method and the oven. Thanks.

TERCH
02-15-2014, 01:45 PM
Great information - Thanks. Going to work on the brine using the 30 minute interval suggestion with the oven. Will let you know the results soon.

CivilWarBBQ
02-15-2014, 08:00 PM
I never debone thighs or brine them. Here's a story to amuse you...

Once upon a time I did an oven test using different simple brine times as described on thighs, with brine time from 8 hours to no brine as a control. 2 thighs in each batch, cooked in the oven for the same amount of time to 180 internal temp. No smoke, rub or sauce as this was not cooking for food but purely an experiment. I was trying to find the sweet spot for internal moisture vs. saltiness.

Much to my surprise, I could not determine ANY difference in moisture between all the batches. The sodium content varied, but that's all. I've conducted the same experiment with breasts and there is a definite improvement in perceived moisture in the finished product. Given these results, I see no reason to brine chicken thighs, as the amount of internal fat they contain is sufficient to keep them moist.

indianagriller
02-16-2014, 12:39 AM
We are the laziest chicken cooks ever. No deboning, no creative trimming, no skinning/scraping, and we cook 8 pieces. It's done well for us, no plans to fix what's working.

^^^^^
This... took the post I was going to write, we buy 3 packs of 4 trim them very minimally, pick the best 9, the other 3 go into freezer to be used later... Then at the comp we season lightly cook them till done, sauce them turn them in and well it has worked well for us... Don't try to over think your chicken process...

McEvoy AZ
02-16-2014, 04:16 PM
We are the laziest chicken cooks ever. No deboning, no creative trimming, no skinning/scraping, and we cook 8 pieces. It's done well for us, no plans to fix what's working.

Well that kind of wears me out Alexa, I hate prepping chicken and spend about 15 minutes each piece trimming 18 pieces just to get 6 pieces I like. LOL I do need to take a chicken trimming class though, as I fake my way through trimming. I see the shape of others chicken and it does not look like mine, although I usually score well in chicken.

Hawg Father of Seoul
02-16-2014, 04:51 PM
I have a theory that bigger pieces score better. Look through old photos and see if it holds up for you.

Candy Sue
02-17-2014, 10:33 AM
Have you thought about legs?