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Competition Chicken help

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

So I am competing in my first KCBS competition next weekend and my chicken is struggling. I had a few questions for those who do chicken well. Do you just use thighs? I was thinking about trimming the thighs small and also include wings and sliced breast meat. I did a practice run yesterday and they turned out ok. Brined them for 4 hours in salt/sugar mixture. Rubbed with Jeffs rub and yard bird. Smoked at 285* for 1 1/2 hours. Skin was bite through and they were juicy but didnt have a whole lot of flavor. Anything you suggest changing? Are you allowed to have grill marks on meat for KCBS? I was thinking about grilling the wings

post #2 of 14

You are playing at a much higher level than me, but I have some suggestions.  Brine longer for whole chicken.  I go 12 hours. Add seasonings to the cavity and surface of the chicken after rinsing the brine solution off.  You will get a more savory result.  Most people agree smoke absorption best occurs when the meat is below some magic temperature, but skin crisping is important for the bite-through.  To do achieve optimal results, I smoke at 225 until the breast meat measures 115 F, then I smoke at 350 F, until the chicken breast reaches 165 F to help crisp the skin. The longer low-temp smoke gives more smoke absorption into the meat.  Some people suggest a higher temperature for crisping.   It makes for about a 3 hour total cook time with a 5.5 to 6.0 pound whole bird (vertical beer can style).  I did a bird by this method a couple days ago, the results were phenomenal.


post #3 of 14

I personally just do thighs because the meat quality is consistent. Dark meat just tastes more like chicken and tastes better/juicier etc etc.


Cutting them down can help make them look pretty. Depends on your cooking method and how you want to present them. I find that I leave them whole and tuck the 'flaps' underneath. Make it look really big, plump and juicy.


All of this being said, doing 3 different "cuts" can make or break you, because let's say the thigh is dead on but the breast is dry, your whole box suffers.  Stick with what is your best part of the bird and go from there. I believe thighs win competitions for a reason.


Personally, I feel that brining gives them a 'gummy' texture. I marinate in zesty italian salad dressing for 2-3 hours instead. Pat them dry with paper towel and then sprinkle with rub and smoke in a pan with butter and some chicken broth. Keeps them super moist and juicy without giving the meat an 'off' texture. That's just me though.


f you are dead-set on doing wings, make sure the flavour profile you are shooting for gets straight to the bone. Injecting them helps a lot with moisture, texture and getting flavour deep in the meat.


All the best next weekend, hope you can find something that works best for you.

post #4 of 14

Me I just do thighs in a comp. I trim them to all look the same. And I want them to shine in the box.

I also do them at 325 deg to get a bite through skin. 

post #5 of 14
I'm having a problem keeping the skin from shriveling up and coming off, I take the skin of and cut it semetrical and trim the fat under the skin but still no luck, any ideas out there
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Spot on,

I have been practicing chicken a lot lately. One thing I found is cooking skin down submersed in liquid most of the cook. With about 30 min left ill flip over rub and sauce. I havent had skin shrinking yet with this. I usually do cupcake with this method but have done others as well. I was talking with Myron and a guy that does IBA contests and is required to do quarters. The guy said his skin kept shrinking. Myron suggested he wrap skin as tight as he could around meat then tooth pick it close to bottom where it restson the table.
post #7 of 14
Sounds like a great tip on the tooth picks. I will have to try that.

Trimmed thighs only for me. I brine/marinade mine. Then cook at 325 or higher for a shorter time, until IT of 165 is reached. I will use the ones that don't match and pull them for the bottom of the box and place 9 thighs on top.

I will make a light glaze out of my favorite bbq sauce, butter and a bit of reduced beer, brush on when IT is 150.
post #8 of 14
OK thanks golf pro I'll try the toothpicks next time it's what I was thinking actually
post #9 of 14

went to a smoking class, and they taught me to pull the skin back on a thigh. the use the side of a spoon to scrape all the fat off of the skin. then trim the thigh, and tuck the skin around the thigh,put into pan with chicken broth. and put on rub, then smoke 225 degrees until internal temp reaches 165 degrees, with very good success with bite threw skin.and very good taste. the brining would be up to you, what ever taste you are tring to get out of the meat. i have never tried to raise the temp to 325 degrees. interesting..

post #10 of 14
Dannylang so you didn't use tooth picks and it stayed tucked
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

Spot On,


If you scrape the fat off the skin the skin actually stretches out a little bit. Because of this you are able to tuck the skin under the thighs which prevents it from shrinking during the cook. If you dont want to mess with removing the fat toothpick it to make sure it stays in place.

post #12 of 14

you do not have to use toothpicks for this. you scrape the under skin, until you can almost see threw it. then you tuck it under, or you can trim it back a little, but it will stay tucked and stretch a little around the thigh, and give you good bit threw skin. you may have to pratice on it a little to get them the way you want them.maybe change temps or whatever you need, but this scrapping works very good for me.th_INGardenbbq7.gif

post #13 of 14
Thank you dannylang
post #14 of 14

you bet, any thing to help a fellow smoking friend.Thumbs Up

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