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Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:02 am
by bruno994
I don't know that we have exhausted our brisket round table yet, but we might as well get started on the next meat...chicken.
What size chickens are you buying? And what brand or type are you looking for? Last year I used birds under 5#'s, between 4 3/4 to 5, but now I try to find birds just above 5#'s (maybe 5 to 5 .20 or so), they still fit in the box good and seem to stay a bit juicier. As far as brand, I like both HEB and Sanderson Farms, they both advertise all natural with no preservatives or enhancers.

Re: Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:55 am
by Cannonball Express
Subscribed! I haven't had any success with my chickens. I have been cooking birds between 4.5 - 5 lbs...

Re: Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:57 am
by RLTXBBQ
I'm right there with all you said Bruno, seem to do better cooking the chicken low and slow, just come out juicier, same results both smoked and grilled. Everybody talks about that crispy skin baloney but I have not found that to be a big deal in Texas comps. a good brine is all you need.

Re: Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:26 am
by BigDave
I prefer birds about 4 pounds. Either Sanderson farms or natural non-antibiotic birds without the flavoring brine most brands are injected with during processing. I cook hot & fast, usually about an hour for halves but this can vary dependin on wind and weather. I don't brine. I inject with my own injection & use 3 to 4 oz of injection per half. Inject 4 to 5 hours before turn-in. Use Big Country Barbecue "Simply Unique" rub. Cook until center of thigh is 170 degrees. Breast is usually around 160-162 degrees. Birds are super juicy and tasty!

We do well with yardbirds! :D

Re: Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:09 pm
by atcNick
4.5-5lbs Sanderson farm, 325-350°

Re: Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:03 pm
by bruno994
I'm with you TC, chicken cost me quite a few $'s last year. I brine, tried injecting and just don't like it as much. I smoke mine for 2 hours on my upper grate, which runs about 275 to 280, then set the sauce for another 15 minutes or so.
In your opinion, what matters most, flavor, moisture or tenderness, or do all 3 have to be spot on for success? I have spent the last 3 weekends practicing my birds and think I finally found the sweet spot I have been looking for. Tender, flavorful and moist, not over juicy, but a good, moist product.

Re: Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:37 pm
by Mr. Orange
Brine in a zip-lock over night. Take the bird out and inject the brine along the bones for the legs, thighs, and wing drumettes and inject the breast in three or four spots.

After injection, dry rub an throw on the pit. When the skin looks like its drying out, I baste with a watered down mix of the finishing sauce and butter. With an hour let I go with the straight sauce.

The sauce is a little citrus-y, sweet with a little heat.

Re: Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:19 pm
by Big Ed
I've been using 3.5lb birds and cooking them about 350*, takes about an hour! I think the moist and flavorful is much more important than appearance, I have seen some UGLY birds do well!!! :dont:

Re: Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:29 pm
by jtilk
Usually Sanderson Farm but not too particular as long as they are all natural and not frozen in a solution. Most birds I cook are in the 4.5-5 range... I've found that I can check with my local butcher and order all natural, never frozen birds, and because they have never had steroids or growth hormones they are in the 3.5 range as Big Ed mentioned.

Re: Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 7:50 pm
by buzz
Imo... I look for the flavor of the bird, too much sauce is not for me. :dont:

Re: Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:12 pm
by js-tx
I look for an all natural chicken 4.5 -5lb range. I'm a briner too. I shoot for a savory slightly salty flavor that is hopefully really juicy. It seems to work well for me. Sauce is just for looks IMO, I think most judges just go for the meat. Appearance is a little bit over rated when it comes to chicken IMO. In a non-sanctioned contest, I turned in a dark crispy lookin bird and got 1st.. that wasn't what I was trying to do though! That was my 1st time cooking chicken on a UDS and misjudged things. I'm now cooking on a 22 kettle @325-350*.

This one made it to the 3rd round in the WW series in Gruene.
Image

Re: Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 10:57 am
by BigDave
Moistness and flavor will get the best results. Chicken is not a tough meat usually so should be tender. Biggest thing on flavor is to enhance not mask. Chicken should still taste like chicken! :D

Most folks do better with brining because they do not know how to inject correctly. They Use large needles and thick commercial injection full of xamthum gum. So they get pockets of bleahhhh. Taste OK buy is not a good eye appeal to a judge.

Need to Use medical needles 14 to 16 gauge that cut into the flesh instead of pushin a big hole. Can get em at any feed store, vet supply, even tractor supply sells em. Injection should be like broth or consumee, slowly injected little bit at a time. Only 4 entry points into breast. Almost withdraw needle move over and re-inject doing this in a circular pattern. Then let rest so injection can osmosis throughout the flesh. If injection is pouring out of flesh you put in too much.

Brining works well for many and is most likely more popular. but I will go with a correctly injected yardbird anyday over brining for flavor. Most important thing is to do what you have the most confidence in and you will get the best results for you.

Re: Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:23 pm
by mallroy
buzz wrote:Imo... I look for the flavor of the bird, too much sauce is not for me. :dont:


I agree. Don't particularly like all the sauce!

Re: Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:57 pm
by Brandon87
4.3lbs organic air chilled. Brine. Cook at 325-350..

Re: Competition Chicken Roundtable...

Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 4:56 pm
by Brandon87
And for the sauce vs no sauce discussion... I noticed when judging that over half the judges would take their piece from the breast without any skin at all. I don't think sauce plays as huge a factor as most cooks think. A moist and tender breast with just the right amount of seasoning from the brine / injection will win competitions IMO.

And while I believe this, I still use turkey lacers to pin the skin, wrap the ends of the legs and wing tips with foil, etc. I know it probably doesn't matter but I just can't help myself...