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View Full Version : Please give me feedback on these boxes


chambersuac
10-17-2010, 03:51 PM
Brethren,
I already know a couple of things I'd do differently, but please tell me what you like/dislike/would change/etc. on these turn in boxes from the Thrill of the Grill comp last weekend. Thanks in advance.

ModelMaker
10-17-2010, 05:10 PM
Chicken
Postage stamp , toupee looking skin. Mighty red looking.
Size and placement look pretty good. Little more greens around edges. 7

Ribs
Pretty nice color, box filled well (not a fan of sideways placement).
The killer in apperance is the ragged edges and uneven cuts( rib all the way to one side). Also, slops of sauce spilled along sides of rib and in greenery. Again needs a little more green around edges. 6.5....alright a 6.
Ed

Rich Parker
10-17-2010, 05:23 PM
Make sure the skin is covering the whole piece of chicken. If you are competing at a KCBS contest - Don't submit more than 6 pieces unless you are sure the additional pieces are just as good as the others. An example would be your rib box where that top bone should have been left out.

chambersuac
10-17-2010, 06:08 PM
Thanks guys. I'm VERRRRYYYY new at this, as you can tell. How do you keep the skin covering the chicken? BBS suggested using toothpicks.

Also, I'm not sure what's wrong with the cut of the ribs...or really, how to fix it...how do you NOT get ragged edges? Any help is much appreciated!

Fyrman_Mike
10-17-2010, 06:23 PM
Dan, we used an electric knife on ours. That was the reason we pulled our SUV in at the end. It was a Hybrid and had a built in inverter!:wink:

Course I don't know that MINE don't look raged? Yours look really good. (Oh, tasted good as well!)

gjdad
10-17-2010, 06:26 PM
Chicken
Postage stamp , toupee looking skin. Mighty red looking.
Size and placement look pretty good. Little more greens around edges. 7

Ribs
Pretty nice color, box filled well (not a fan of sideways placement).
The killer in apperance is the ragged edges and uneven cuts( rib all the way to one side). Also, slops of sauce spilled along sides of rib and in greenery. Again needs a little more green around edges. 6.5....alright a 6.
Ed
Wow I had no idea apperance was graded that closely. I was also curious about the red color on the chicken, was that a modified Open Pit sauce?

On the ribs should each piece be centered around the bone?

luckyduk
10-17-2010, 06:31 PM
That middle piece of chicken looks awesome, try and duplicate that. Try and trim your chicken a little more to get more uniform sizes. Pinning the chicken with toothpicks works very well, it holds the skin around the meat, just make sure and count your toothpicks and get them all out, or that will guarantee you DAL or DQ
Personally the ribs don't look that bad except for the top one, try and cut your ribs either in the center of the meat or nearest the next bone to balance the bone and meat, as for cutting ribs I personally use a really sharp filet knife, when I cut I stand the ribs on end and cut on the backstroke.

chambersuac
10-17-2010, 06:32 PM
Wow I had no idea apperance was graded that closely. I was also curious about the red color on the chicken, was that a modified Open Pit sauce?

On the ribs should each piece be centered around the bone?

No, the sauce was a super secret special sauce sent to me by a Brethren that shall not be named unless he wants to be :becky: It may be on the red side, but it tastes AWESOME.

landarc
10-17-2010, 10:43 PM
Dan, although I do not compete, I will put in my two cents from what I have seen when hanging around. Chicken seems to score best when the piece are presented in two rows of three and are all the same shape. I find this odd, but, apparently competition chickens are all shaped identically. One of the benefits of the pickled pig process is that scraping the skin stretches it a bit, so that once you pin it in place, you cannot see the edge of the skin from the top. I do have to say that piece in the middle looks great.

As for the ribs, I prefer a long thin sharp slicing blade, whether it be a slicing knife like you see at buffets, or a filet knife, they work because the blade is very thin and can be razor sharp. I am a top down cutter, I figure I can dress the ribs up with a little thinned sauce and a silicone brush once arranged. It takes patience, but, as long as you make long slices, it can be done. I also like to cook more than one rack, so that all the pieces are just about the same length, although your taper is very nicely worked out.

billm
10-18-2010, 07:34 AM
Thanks guys. I'm VERRRRYYYY new at this, as you can tell. How do you keep the skin covering the chicken? BBS suggested using toothpicks.

Also, I'm not sure what's wrong with the cut of the ribs...or really, how to fix it...how do you NOT get ragged edges? Any help is much appreciated!
a good sharp knife will take care of that or an electric as others have suggested

RedPig
10-18-2010, 08:52 AM
Great comments. Definitely use electric knife or very sharp filet type knife. Appearance counts the least but why leave money on the table.

Just my 2 cents.

jman1972
10-18-2010, 10:41 AM
unless you had to have 7 ribs in the box, I would stick with 6 it looks better and doesnt make the boy look overfilled. With chicken I use a pair of scissors to trim all the pieces about the same shape before i cook them, if you are using thighs there is a lot of extra fat and skin around the outside that can be trimmed off I have just found that scissors work the best. Keep up the good work and continue to practice.

Divemaster
10-18-2010, 10:55 AM
With just allowing myself no more than 5 seconds to look at each box, I'd give both the the chicken and the ribs an 8.

Now after looking at them here are my reasons...

Chicken:
In general, I would have liked to see a darker color on the chicken (this could be the photo). Counting from Left to Right, Top to Bottom, Thighs 2, 3, and 7, looks like the skin got shoved around a bit leaving the meat exposed. I liked the use of lettuce but would have like to have seen more consistent use of the parsley. (It looks like you only got some in the upper corners of the box.

Ribs:
Overall, great color on the meat. The center section of the box looks good but I would have liked the ribs to be tighter against each other. Also, when you are slicing make sure you are using a VERY sharp knife and you wipe it between each slice. This would clean up the edges. The top and bottom ribs bother me because they are cut so close to the bone on one side. To be honest, I think you are asking for a downed score in tenderness because you have very little to hold the meat to the bone (bite test).

All in all, you did really good!

Divemaster
10-18-2010, 11:02 AM
unless you had to have 7 ribs in the box, I would stick with 6 it looks better and doesnt make the boy look overfilled. With chicken I use a pair of scissors to trim all the pieces about the same shape before i cook them, if you are using thighs there is a lot of extra fat and skin around the outside that can be trimmed off I have just found that scissors work the best. Keep up the good work and continue to practice.
I disagree, I think the fuller the box the better it looks. We normally try to put in 11 to 12 ribs in two rows with the front row over lapping the back. The key is to make sure that your front row has your very best ribs and that there are 6 of them. That way the odds of a single judge getting a sub-standard rib (at least not your best) decreases.

Again, you did a great job Dan!

LGHT
10-18-2010, 11:03 AM
You might get a more even coating of sauce if it was dipped on. Also I prefer to have the ribs stacked to show off the nice smoke ring. 7 on both boxes.

Stoke&Smoke
10-18-2010, 11:05 AM
Dan, the advice already given is great. Sharper knife to trim your ribs, I would also try and take from the middle of the slab. Those look like closer to an end, so the one on the right is a lot smaller than the one on the left. Also, I'd try to keep them closer together, and try not to have sauce splattered on the box and the greens. Trouble I always had with ribs is staying evenly between the bones. Finally started standing them up to slice and have much better results

They certainly look tasty though! They must have been...you won!

Three porks
10-18-2010, 11:16 AM
Dan-

Chicken- I personally like the color of the chicken. Reminds me of Peking Duck which I love! I would just work on the trimming/skin coverage some and try using a solider row type placement . (3 down 2 across) Otherwise nice work.

Ribs- When I buy ribs I always buy spares that look like the ribs are as straight as possible....this is definitely easier said then done. I usually buy about 5 racks and trim at home. Definitely evaluate its potential at home before the comp you don't want to use up your valuable real estate on the smoker. Like everybody else said before, invest in an electric knife. You'll be amazed how clean the cuts are. Sometimes after I cut, you can't even tell the ribs are separated. I think this is key for moisture retention in the box....keep those ribs close in the box....plus makes for a nice presentation.

Smokin' Aces
10-18-2010, 11:30 AM
i pull all my skins off the thighs, then trim them up and then rap them back up with and skin and toothpick them all up. just remember how many toothpicks you have used casue you dont want a judge bitting down into that

jman1972
10-18-2010, 11:35 AM
I had a certified judge working with me at the Arthur contestn he has already judged 30 contests and was working on Master Judge by cooking with my team. He said at one contest he judged he found 3 staples in a piece of chicken, he actually found the 1st one in his mouth. Now I have heard of cooks using toothpicks for chicken skin...but staples, anyone heard of that?

Smokin' Aces
10-18-2010, 11:54 AM
staples is a little ridiculous, wow hopefully noone has ever injested them from him

landarc
10-18-2010, 12:26 PM
I disagree, I think the fuller the box the better it looks. We normally try to put in 11 to 12 ribs in two rows with the front row over lapping the back. The key is to make sure that your front row has your very best ribs and that there are 6 of them. That way the odds of a single judge getting a sub-standard rib (at least not your best) decreases.

Again, you did a great job Dan!
This is interesting, I have seen the ribs stacked 6 over 6, I assumed it was to present the top ribs at an angle. I can see the logic though that it also means there is less chance of a judge getting a less than ideal rib.

Bentley
10-18-2010, 07:28 PM
Well, having looked for 10 seconds and not reading any other comments, I would give both a 7. It is after all a meat contest, and to me that meat looks a little above average. I thinks your chicken color is very appitizing, you skin is some what messy. Your ribs seem a little over cooked, but that's what taste & tenderness scores are for...Now to read everyone else's comments and scores...

Captain Caveman
10-19-2010, 07:34 AM
Chicken: I like the color. use toothpicks to hold the skin while cooking (don't forget to remove them before turn in).

Ribs: Again I like the color, clean up your cuts (ragged) . It looks as if you cut too close to the bone. maybe go a little lighter on the sauce.

CBQ
10-19-2010, 08:54 AM
Agree with skin comments on the chicken. Also use a small pastry brush to touch up the chicken sauce so it's evenly applied. There are some spots that are not sauced, and as you already gathered from the comments, making all the chicken look the same helps your appearance score.

Everyone has mentioned the cut of the ribs, and I agree. The ribs are also different LENGTHS. A lot of cooks start with a 4.5 pound rack and cut it down to a 3.5 pound rack, squaring the ribs off. Did you start with a big rack, or get it already trimmed from the store?

It looks like the ribs came from one rack, and the ribs taped off in size along the rack. The judge ending up with the shortest ribs may hold that against you, even though they aren't going to eat all of it. Square your racks, and cook more than one (at least 4) and try to select ribs that look the same. (Maybe you can get away with a store trim if you have a lot of racks to pick through.) I also agree with the prior suggestion that you want to slice evenly between the ribs so the bones are centered.

chambersuac
10-19-2010, 03:32 PM
Guys, thanks for all the awesome comments. It's obvious that I didn't win on Appearance scores, but the judges there scored me higher in some cases, lower in some cases than you all did - I think they ended up scoring us higher, so they might not have been CBJs.

As far as I know, the judges that judges us (the backyard guys) were the same CBJs that judged the "big guys" - I'm not sure. Below is how THEY judged our boxes. You can tell Texture was a big plus for us :)

As far as the ribs, I only cooked two racks. I had cooked six the week before and used only one of them, so I thought I'd save some money and trouble. The first rack I pulled off was the larger/longer rack - and they fell off the bone. Obviously, I couldn't serve them. The second, shorter rack felt perfect, so I used only ribs from that - that's why the taper.

Thanks again for all the feedback and advice so far...more is appreciated.

Chicken
Ap Te Ta /Ap Te Ta / Ap Te Ta / Ap Te Ta / Ap Te Ta /Average App Te Ta
9 9 9 / 9 9 9 / 7 6 7 / 8 7 7 /8 6 7 8.2 /7.4 /7.8117

Ribs
Ap Te Ta / Ap Te Ta / Ap Te Ta / Ap Te Ta / Ap Te Ta / Appear Text Taste
8 9 8 / 9 9 8/ 8 9 9 / 8 9 9 / 9 9 9 / 8.4/ 9 /8.6 130

Divemaster
10-19-2010, 04:06 PM
Dan, I'm glad you got some good comments... As for the number of slabs, I normally do 4 slabs (OK, sometimes maybe 6)... I would rather take some back and give them to my office (they have no taste) than not have an extra slab if some thing comes up...

LGHT
10-19-2010, 04:21 PM
Very interesting scores. I'm really surprised that you got 2 9's for appearence in chicken.

chambersuac
10-19-2010, 04:24 PM
Very interesting scores. I'm really surprised that you got 2 9's for appearence in chicken.


Yeah, well, there IS a chance they had a couple of beers that day :heh:
Maybe it just goes to show how subjective judging is - or they really wrote down 3's and when the cards got totaled, the top of the threes looked curled and they thought they were 9's. I don't know. But...I'm glad I asked you guys for advice/comments. I've learned a lot.

Dale P
10-19-2010, 05:17 PM
If you cook the chicken well, you dont need any staples, or tooth pics..

BigOlBoysBarBQ
10-19-2010, 05:21 PM
They look nice I would say Dan, the only thing I see and most have already said it. A little more parsley in the box and no ragged edges on the ribs.

I am guessing that you got a trailer smoker set-up? I am still in the process of building my next one and saving up for a spicewine.

Ford
10-20-2010, 09:55 AM
I disagree, I think the fuller the box the better it looks. We normally try to put in 11 to 12 ribs in two rows with the front row over lapping the back. The key is to make sure that your front row has your very best ribs and that there are 6 of them. That way the odds of a single judge getting a sub-standard rib (at least not your best) decreases.

Again, you did a great job Dan!
Jeff

Don't assume that the judges will all take from the top row. Some will intentionally grab from the second row just to see if you have 12 you are proud of or 6 plus 6 box fillers. Same with brisket. If you have 10-12 slices somebody will pick from the back.

Divemaster
10-20-2010, 10:52 AM
Jeff

Don't assume that the judges will all take from the top row. Some will intentionally grab from the second row just to see if you have 12 you are proud of or 6 plus 6 box fillers. Same with brisket. If you have 10-12 slices somebody will pick from the back.
Ford,

I agree that there are judges that are going to do that, but unless the first judge does it, I'm willing to bet that most are going to pull from the front row.

I think we need to break this down into two parts. The first of which is appearance. I still believe that a full box looks better than one with only six bones. I also believe that the front row needs to be not only the best tasting but the most beautiful bones you've ever seen.

I'm not saying that the back row should just be some filler bones. They should be held to the same quality level for both taste and tenderness as the front row. The only difference is that the bottom half of the back row bones don't need to be as perfect in appearance as the the front row.

Please understand, if I don't have enough "Farking-Tastic" ribs for a back row, I won't put them in.

As for the brisket question, I only take slices from one of the two briskets I cook. To me it's a point of pride that when the judges look at my brisket box they can tell that each slice looks like it's in the same order that it was sliced. Now if you want to talk about burnt ends, those can and do come from either of the two points that I cook.

chambersuac
10-20-2010, 11:11 AM
They look nice I would say Dan, the only thing I see and most have already said it. A little more parsley in the box and no ragged edges on the ribs.

I am guessing that you got a trailer smoker set-up? I am still in the process of building my next one and saving up for a spicewine.

Thanks. Actually, the ribs were cooked on a WSM and the chicken on a BSK.
My current trailer smoker is just to big for these contests.

WeekendsAreMine
10-20-2010, 05:00 PM
I compete in chicken a lot and agree with most everything that has been said up to this point. One additional trick you can try is creating a heavy marinade with your rub, start from scratch(oil, vinegar, your rub, etc) and then don't reapply the rub after they thighs come from the marinade. Doing this will cause the skin to cover more evening. Applying the rub to the meat seems to me to cause more inconsistent coverage than using a liquid and nothing else.

Again, a good sharp knife and give judge meat on both sides. I like a full box as long as every bite is as good as another.

Both look very good to me.