Saturday, April 01, 2006

Contest Chicken; Better BBQ Series - #9

My post yesterday about brining gave me an idea for a competition chicken test tomorrow. I'm going to prepare chicken two ways as a test for the upcoming season.

Here's how I normally cook chicken in contests:

1. Start with Amish chicken thighs

2. Trim excess skin and fat

3. Sprinkle with rub

4. Refrigerate and marinade for 6 - 8 hours in Ziploc bag with Italian Salad Dressing

5. Remove from Ziploc bag and place directly on smoker

6. Cook at 225-235 degrees for 2 hours

7. Check temperature, should be about 150 degrees

8. Sauce with "secret" sauce

9. Continue cooking for another 30-40 minutes

10. Check temperature, should be between 165-175 degrees

11. Remove from smoker

Chicken cooked according to this time-tested and reliable recipe have allowed to win the chicken category at many FBA sanctioned bbq cook-offs, a KCBS event last year, and consistently places near the top of the field in almost every event we've entered.

The drawback to this recipe, however, is that although the chicken is tender, juicy and as near perfect as I can make it; the skin is sometimes "rubbery" and hard to bite through.

Tommorrow I'm going to experiment with a version of Jim Minion's honey chicken brine recipe that includes water, salt, tender quick, honey, bay leaves, ground cloves and pickle spice and complete a direct comparison to our normal contest recipe. During the cooking process I'm going to spritz with a mixture of lemon juice and lime juice in an attempt to "crispen" the skin a little.

I've tried the lemon juice thing a few times and although it did not competely solve the skin issue, it did seem to firm up the skin a lot.

I am not a fan of "hot and fast" chicken cooking because it leaves too much room for error, but I'm going to continue to experiment with alternative ways to achieve a "bite-through" skin on my contest chicken thighs.

Read the previous article in the series.

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