BBQ Contest Foods: Chicken
We finally reach the story of the KCBS sanctioned BBQ contest at the Hudson Valley Ribfest. Yup, it's a month has almost passed since the contest and I'm still talking about it.
In a KCBS event there are four foods that must be cooked. Chicken, Pork Ribs, Pork Shoulder and Beef Brisket. There may be other foods that the contest organizer wants you to cook, but these are the four that count for the prize.
What you see in the picture are 9 skinless chicken thighs that we presented to the judges for scoring. Chicken thighs are the prevalent choice among barbeque cooks in the Northeast. I think they're the most popular choice for barbeque cooks throughout the country, but I've only been to events up here, so I'm not going to make that claim.
Thighs have a high fat percentage compared to the rest of the chicken which makes them take to the smoke and heat of the barbecue better than the other parts of the bird. They're also more forgiving to a cook's mistakes. The fat helps keep the meat moist so you can over cook them and get away with it.
We did surprisingly well with this chicken. We came in 24th. I can hear you ask - "You came in 24th place and you think you did surprising well?" Yup. I was really surprised. I screwed up this chicken royally.
Oh chicken, how I screwed you. Let me count the ways.
- I asked John, who had never been to BBQ contest before, and as far as I know doesn't cook chicken to trim the thighs. He asked me what I meant and I said to just trim off the obvious fat. He said that was a "dirty job" and I said OK, let's wait till I get back from my shower; but John, ever the trooper, said no he'd take care of it. Unfortunately he interpreted trimming the fat to mean - skin them. Looking back on it now, there was time to go out and buy more chicken, but the thought didn't occur.
- I didn't brine the chicken. I've never cooked skinless chicken before, so I wasn't really sure if they could stand up to a brine so I decided not to. Thinking about that now, that was a completely stupid idea. Brining adds moisture, which would have been provided by the fat from the skin. Damn I wasn't thinking.
- I never tasted the chicken. I took the best looking 12 pieces of chicken from the 24 pieces we cooked, sauced them, and then took the best looking 9 and put them in the box.
- I did a lousy job of presentation. Most judges gave us a 7 on presentation, but one kind soul gave us a 9 (the top score). Bless you whomever you are.