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Competition BBQ *On Topic Only* Discussion regarding all aspects of Competition BBQ. Experiences competing or visiting, questions, getting started, Equipment, announcements of events, Results, Reviews, Planning, etc. Questions here will be responded to with competition BBQ in mind.


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Unread 04-06-2011, 07:43 AM   #1
roksmith
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Default Sous-vide chicken

I hate to even throw this out there because I think I know what most will think of the cooking method, but I've asked my local KCBS rep and it appears to be a legal cooking method so long as the water is not being kept to temperature via electric or gas.
I've played with the method and the end result is some pretty amazing chicken.
Anybody used the method either in competition or not?
What did you think?
And who would get upset if you were beat in a comp by them?
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Unread 04-06-2011, 09:33 AM   #2
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I love Sous-vide....Really unbelievable...but for comp I don tbe lieve that you can render the skin properly...if its legal now it wouldnt be after awhile
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Unread 04-06-2011, 09:57 AM   #3
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Without electricity or gas how are you maintaining the constant low temperature required. With Sous-vide being able to maintain that temp is critical.
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Unread 04-06-2011, 10:06 AM   #4
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It would be interesting to give it a try. Who knows, you may start a chicken breast revolution.

Next thing you know people will be using the cryo-rendering technique on their thighs.
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Unread 04-06-2011, 10:07 AM   #5
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just so that we're all on the same page, i have a couple questions. Now by sous-vide I can assume you're going to shoot for a 160 degree bath of water, in a 225 degree+ smoker. So you'll be vacuum sealing your thighs, breast, legs, whatever cut you're trying to cook, than place in a bath of water. How do you plan on regulating the temps of the water, and keeping it consistent, ice?
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Unread 04-06-2011, 10:09 AM   #6
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The heating element couldn't be electric. For sous vide, if you can maintain that temp in a smoker for a long period of time he'd be good to go from what I know of the rules. I don't believe that there is a rule against putting your meat in a bag, vacuuming it and dropping it into circulating water around 140 for a long time. Technically, it's so far removed from bbq. I think since it's cooked submerged underwater in a bag that all of us know how the ruling would come down on this one.

Ah here we go. I looked at the rules KCBS 2011:

8. Parboiling and/or deep‐frying competition meat is not
allowed.

I really think that rule, while a lawyer may argue it, would cover sous vide.
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Unread 04-06-2011, 10:14 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZScott View Post
Technically, it's so far removed from bbq.
And therein lies the rub. While gains may be made on tenderness, how will sous vide chicken approximate smoked chicken in the other attributes?

Never underestimate the power of a judge who knows perfectly well when "that ain't BBQ".
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Unread 04-06-2011, 10:22 AM   #8
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The experiments we did with legal methods used a cambro drink cooler to hold the water.
Fill with 160 degree water, drop in the chicken in vacuum sealed bags. The temp drops to about 155 degrees when the chix drops in. Then the cambro only allows the temp to drop about a degree an hour or so. Chicken thighs are done at about 2 hours.. but can sit in there for 3 or 4 no problem. Then finish on high heat for about 15 minutes to dry it out a bit then sauce for another 15 min or so. Thighs end up almost the same size cooked as they were raw and juicy as can be. Breasts would need to be cooked at a lower temp I believe. Probably in the 145 degree range.

There are interesting articles out there using beer coolers to hold the water.. I tried that once, but of course igloo coolers don't hold quite as well as cambro coolers, so I had to add a little hot water part way thru.

The skin is bite thru.. so tender it's almost non-existent.

We're actually experimenting with it more for possible catering gigs.. thoughts are if we can bag chicken for a hundred and cook them in a big coffin cooler hours in advance, then a few minutes on a grill to finish them off, it really makes cooking chicken for a big group easy and the product is awesome.
That's what got us thinking about using it for comps.
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Unread 04-06-2011, 10:28 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DivaHerself View Post
And therein lies the rub. While gains may be made on tenderness, how will sous vide chicken approximate smoked chicken in the other attributes?

Never underestimate the power of a judge who knows perfectly well when "that ain't BBQ".
It's definitely a balancing act.. and to be sure, something is surely lost by only seeing smoke for part of the cooking process.. but it is similar in that regard to folks braising in foil or pans. The question is can you make it up in seasoning? I guess the judges would have to answer that if/when it hit's their table.
I do like the fact that the smoke flavor that is lost is replaced by the flavor of chicken since little to no juices are lost in the cooking precess.
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Unread 04-06-2011, 10:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZScott View Post

Ah here we go. I looked at the rules KCBS 2011:

8. Parboiling and/or deep‐frying competition meat is not
allowed.

I really think that rule, while a lawyer may argue it, would cover sous vide.
Yea.. and I don't want to really get into an argument over semantics... but boiling can't occur at 160 degrees.. at least on this planet.
But that's the reason I asked my local KCBS rep prior to even considering the cooking method. He did tell me it's a legal method.
I also agree it's certainly not traditional bbq, but neither is building franken-chickens and braising in butter.
What got me looking at it was a conversation on this forum where someone was questioning the butter braise method and it was compared to sous vide cooking. so I thought I'd give it a shot.

If I were to try it in competition I may want to clear the method with the reps for every event I intend on entering. No method is worth a DQ.
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Unread 04-06-2011, 10:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZScott View Post
The heating element couldn't be electric. For sous vide, if you can maintain that temp in a smoker for a long period of time he'd be good to go from what I know of the rules. I don't believe that there is a rule against putting your meat in a bag, vacuuming it and dropping it into circulating water around 140 for a long time. Technically, it's so far removed from bbq. I think since it's cooked submerged underwater in a bag that all of us know how the ruling would come down on this one.

Ah here we go. I looked at the rules KCBS 2011:

8. Parboiling and/or deep‐frying competition meat is not
allowed.

I really think that rule, while a lawyer may argue it, would cover sous vide.
People are poaching chicken in oil and poaching their briskets in juice now. Competitors routinely braise their ribs and butts. It's not parboiling since you never hit 212 and the meat isn't exposed to the water.

Sounds like it's legal (until someone complains)
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Unread 04-06-2011, 10:53 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roksmith View Post
The experiments we did with legal methods used a cambro drink cooler to hold the water.
Fill with 160 degree water, drop in the chicken in vacuum sealed bags. The temp drops to about 155 degrees when the chix drops in. Then the cambro only allows the temp to drop about a degree an hour or so. Chicken thighs are done at about 2 hours.. but can sit in there for 3 or 4 no problem. Then finish on high heat for about 15 minutes to dry it out a bit then sauce for another 15 min or so. Thighs end up almost the same size cooked as they were raw and juicy as can be. Breasts would need to be cooked at a lower temp I believe. Probably in the 145 degree range.

There are interesting articles out there using beer coolers to hold the water.. I tried that once, but of course igloo coolers don't hold quite as well as cambro coolers, so I had to add a little hot water part way thru.

The skin is bite thru.. so tender it's almost non-existent.

We're actually experimenting with it more for possible catering gigs.. thoughts are if we can bag chicken for a hundred and cook them in a big coffin cooler hours in advance, then a few minutes on a grill to finish them off, it really makes cooking chicken for a big group easy and the product is awesome.
That's what got us thinking about using it for comps.
It would probably work as well to put vac bags in water pan in cooker with a stoker or guru probe dunked in the water, no?
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Unread 04-06-2011, 10:58 AM   #13
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yea.. actually that would work just fine as well if you've got a cooker that you can dedicate to it and run it at 150 degrees.
We just use a cooler because we have several of those laying around and cooler holds long enough at temp for chicken.
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Unread 04-06-2011, 10:59 AM   #14
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...good luck with that!
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Unread 04-06-2011, 12:35 PM   #15
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I love the sous vide method of cooking; my favorite is tri-tip cooked for 2 hours at 135 degrees and then reverse seared over a rockin hot grill of pecan wood. I do chicken the same way and it always comes out awesome. As far as using it in a competition if you could maintain the water temperature using wood based fuel there should not be a problem since you are not parboiling (i.e. water never touches the meat and the h2O is not at 212 anyway). The biggest hurdle is the smoke flavor and the bite though of the skin which really should not be too hard to overcome.
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