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Is the skin supposed to pull off in one bite?


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#1 Grumman

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 04:40 PM

Hi All
Yesterday I thought I would fire up the ECB (electric) for the first time this year and smoke a few thighs. I used a rub on the thighs and let them sit for 3-4 hours before smoking. I preheated the ECB for an hour or so and filled the water pan about 3/4 of the way with boiling water. I layed the thighs skin side up on the grill and let it go for an hour at about 260F before basting them with apple juice. I waited another 15-20 minutes before removing the water pan to crisp up the skin. I basted them with BBQ sauce flipped the thighs over skin side down and let them cook for another 20 minutes or so. The thighs were right at 160F when I pulled them off.
My first bite pulled the skin right off, and it was chewey. My teeth couldn't bite through it. The meat was juicy & tender but I was dissappointed that I couldn't enjoy the rub coated skin.

I've come away thinking that I am not a fan of using the water pan. The trouble is the ECB will hover right around 360F without it. As you know, thats not smoking, thats baking. My question to the group is this "Should the skin on the thigh come off in one piece or should I be able to bite through it while leaving some on the thigh?" Signed Chewey Chicken Louie

#2 Ryan Chester

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 04:49 PM

View PostGrumman, on 01 February 2010 - 04:40 PM, said:

Hi All
Yesterday I thought I would fire up the ECB (electric) for the first time this year and smoke a few thighs. I used a rub on the thighs and let them sit for 3-4 hours before smoking. I preheated the ECB for an hour or so and filled the water pan about 3/4 of the way with boiling water. I layed the thighs skin side up on the grill and let it go for an hour at about 260F before basting them with apple juice. I waited another 15-20 minutes before removing the water pan to crisp up the skin. I basted them with BBQ sauce flipped the thighs over skin side down and let them cook for another 20 minutes or so. The thighs were right at 160F when I pulled them off.
My first bite pulled the skin right off, and it was chewey. My teeth couldn't bite through it. The meat was juicy & tender but I was dissappointed that I couldn't enjoy the rub coated skin.

I've come away thinking that I am not a fan of using the water pan. The trouble is the ECB will hover right around 360F without it. As you know, thats not smoking, thats baking. My question to the group is this "Should the skin on the thigh come off in one piece or should I be able to bite through it while leaving some on the thigh?" Signed Chewey Chicken Louie

The water pan isn't the problem, you need to cook chicken at higher temps to avoid the rubbery skin. Give it a shot at 300+ and you should be ok.

Good luck!

#3 matt brailey

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 09:22 PM

Bite through skin is tricky. There are many techniques you can try to improve your results

Here are a few:

Skin Surgery:

Peel the skin off the thighs and using a filet knife, remove as much fat as possible from the back side of the skin. This is laborious and generally is something that teams do in competition.

Butter bath:

Put your thighs in a foil pan with melted butter or margarine that comes up about halfway on the thighs. Cook at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes. Then cook skin side down until finished. The butter seems to collect under the skin and kind of fry the skin from the inside out.

Baking powder:

The day prior to cooking put a 1:1 mixture of baking powder and salt together and rub thoroughly on the skin (not the flesh) of the thighs. Store, uncovered, in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. 24 hours is optimal. Just before cooking, add rub a bit lighter than you would normally because the skin is already salted. Then hot smoke at 300 degrees to your desired degree of doneness (I prefer cooking to 175 and pulling to carry over to 180 for thighs and drums). The baking powder acts on the skin while the refridgerator dries the skin. The combination of the chemical reaction and the dessicated skin will result in a product that is very easy to bite through. You will need to experiment with this from a flavor standpoint as baking powder is not delicious and the additional salt may be a bit much in conjunction with the rub.

Smoke and grill:

Simply cook the thighs to 160 internal and then transfer to a grill and finish them off, skin side down to render any remaining sub-cutaneous fat.


These are all pretty solid methods for improving skin. A little mixing and matching and you will likely find the combination that best suits your taste.

Good luck!

Matt

#4 Vance Salvador

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 09:53 PM

Matt, with a 3rd place chicken in one of the Fairfield cooks this last year, what did the 155 South Bar-B-Q Team do?

#5 matt brailey

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 10:19 PM

I always do skin surgery. Always, always, always. It is labor intensive and is by far the worst part of prepping any meat, but is an absolute guarantee that I can get bite through skin. When used in combination with the other techniques described, you can produce an even more delicate skin that will more or less disintegrate in your mouth.

In terms of specifics, we did boneless thighs that were aggressively trimmed down to roughly 2"x2" and wrapped back up in the defatted skin. We were able to fit nine pieces in a turn-in box. That particular entry was also done without any garnish. For our rub, we use The Rub Company products across the board for all meats. Chicken is no exception. Our sauce is more of a glaze and is very heavy on vinegar, cayenne and pineapple flavors. We are not even close to settled on an approach for this season, so I can't make any representation that this is how we will cook in the future.

Bottom line, you should bear in mind that there are many other better chicken cooks out there and I'd much rather hear what the dozen or more CBBQA chicken cooks who finished ahead me have to say about competition chicken. Given that the thread was started by someone cooking on an electric smoker, I figured I could offer some good advice about how to tackle the skin problem at home.

Take care,

Matt

#6 Vance Salvador

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 10:31 PM

Thanks Matt, I expected the standard "If I told you, I'd have to kill you" line that most usually say when asked about chicken skin.

And Grumman, with what Matt said in his last post about the skin surgery, here's a good link with pictures from The Pickled Pig.

#7 Grumman

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 01:46 PM

Gents-
I had no idea of the skill, time and effort that goes into BBQing chicken. I didn't realize one of the steps included removing the skin, nor had I heard of "performing surgery" on chicken before. I doubt I will go through all of these steps for a typical BBQ, but I I will try it once for me and the Mrs. I'll probably follow the advice of smoking the thighs on my ECB and then transfer them to the grill to crisp up the skin. Thank you for all of your insights into the world of Competition Chicken! What a great forum!
Louie

#8 Brian Chambers

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 09:53 PM

View PostGrumman, on 09 February 2010 - 01:46 PM, said:

Gents-
I had no idea of the skill, time and effort that goes into BBQing chicken. I didn't realize one of the steps included removing the skin, nor had I heard of "performing surgery" on chicken before. I doubt I will go through all of these steps for a typical BBQ, but I I will try it once for me and the Mrs. I'll probably follow the advice of smoking the thighs on my ECB and then transfer them to the grill to crisp up the skin. Thank you for all of your insights into the world of Competition Chicken! What a great forum!
Louie


I have been grilling chicken for 30 years and I have found that if I cook chicken over an open flame grill (not covered as in a traditional style backyard grill) I get crispy skin that doesn't fall of on the first bite. However, if I cook with my grill top down I get a rubbery skin that falls off. Ok! given that, I am new to smokin chicken and I have just smoked 8 legs and 8 thighs on my smoker for about 2 hours at 235 degrees +/- 15 degrees over the 2 hours. The skin was not crispy (but slightly black barky parks and maybe slightly burnt but flavorful) but easily bite through and not rubbery.

This is my style but this leads me to a question for the Pro's. Does competiton BBQ chicken skin need to be crispy while giving the bite through skin?

#9 Robert Diaz

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 08:19 AM

View Postbctravels, on 09 February 2010 - 09:53 PM, said:

...this leads me to a question for the Pro's. Does competiton BBQ chicken skin need to be crispy while giving the bite through skin?

Regardless of the way you cooked your chicken "Bite Through" chicken skin is exactly that, bite through. Wherever you take your bite of the chicken, that's the part that should come off. Not the rest of the skin or extra/less meat. It doesn't matter whether it's crispy or not. Just make sure it's cooked. :thumbsup:

I have seen the "Surgery" method used by a good competition friend, whom I won't mention, but that's a freaking headach! Of course, if you have the skills to just do 6-10 pieces, it may not be as back breaking as the 20+ pieces I saw them doing. :shok:

I see a lot more competitors out there finishing on a hot grill to crisp up the skin. I have also heard of the butter bath. All are benefitial, but you need to tackle the tasks and see what works best for you. Test it and compete with it. Good luck!

Edited by Robert Diaz, 10 February 2010 - 08:20 AM.


#10 Kevin Barteaux

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 02:18 PM

View Postbctravels, on 09 February 2010 - 09:53 PM, said:

This is my style but this leads me to a question for the Pro's. Does competiton BBQ chicken skin need to be crispy while giving the bite through skin?

Not really, because once you add the sauce and enclose the chicken in a Styrofoam box, any crispiness you had in the skin is pretty much gone.

#11 Derrick Galiste

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 12:28 PM

That was a great write up on the chicken...I enjoyed it. :yahoo:

#12 mark evenson

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 11:02 AM

View Postmatt brailey, on 01 February 2010 - 10:19 PM, said:

I always do skin surgery. Always, always, always. It is labor intensive and is by far the worst part of prepping any meat, but is an absolute guarantee that I can get bite through skin. When used in combination with the other techniques described, you can produce an even more delicate skin that will more or less disintegrate in your mouth.

In terms of specifics, we did boneless thighs that were aggressively trimmed down to roughly 2"x2" and wrapped back up in the defatted skin. We were able to fit nine pieces in a turn-in box. That particular entry was also done without any garnish. For our rub, we use The Rub Company products across the board for all meats. Chicken is no exception. Our sauce is more of a glaze and is very heavy on vinegar, cayenne and pineapple flavors. We are not even close to settled on an approach for this season, so I can't make any representation that this is how we will cook in the future.

Bottom line, you should bear in mind that there are many other better chicken cooks out there and I'd much rather hear what the dozen or more CBBQA chicken cooks who finished ahead me have to say about competition chicken. Given that the thread was started by someone cooking on an electric smoker, I figured I could offer some good advice about how to tackle the skin problem at home.

Take care,

Matt

Matt, Having never done skin surgery, but I am practicing for a Sept chicken comp. Whether you remove the skin or not, even with extensive trimming of the thigh I find it hard to keep the cooked skin formed around the meat and in some cases there doesn't seem to be enough skin to stretch fully around the sides. The end result is a thigh that may not be fully covered with skin after cooking and hence not very attractive to the eye. Could you please comment of this issue.

Mark

#13 Robert Diaz

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 05:58 AM

View Postmark evenson, on 22 July 2010 - 11:02 AM, said:

Matt, Having never done skin surgery, but I am practicing for a Sept chicken comp. Whether you remove the skin or not, even with extensive trimming of the thigh I find it hard to keep the cooked skin formed around the meat and in some cases there doesn't seem to be enough skin to stretch fully around the sides. The end result is a thigh that may not be fully covered with skin after cooking and hence not very attractive to the eye. Could you please comment of this issue.

Mark

Mark - Are you also trimming the skin? You need to trim the meat down, but do not trim the extra skin. The chicken skin should almost wrap all the around. Any skin that overlaps should be trimmed is all. The sking will retract some once cooked, but you should be good to go.

#14 mark evenson

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 08:45 AM

Robert, thanks for the reply. Yes I did trim the skin a bit. I also trimmed the meat trying to make the pieces the same size. The cooked thighs are a bit dark. here are the steps.
This was my first practice at trimming and box prep. Well not really a box but the concept was the same.

Mark

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

#15 Robert Diaz

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 09:00 AM

Mark - That's typical skin pull back. You're okay with that. You might want to square off the meat at the tips a little more, rather than have a point. But other than the darkness, you did a good job.

#16 mark evenson

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Posted 23 July 2010 - 09:30 AM

View PostRobert Diaz, on 23 July 2010 - 09:00 AM, said:

Mark - That's typical skin pull back. You're okay with that. You might want to square off the meat at the tips a little more, rather than have a point. But other than the darkness, you did a good job.

Thanks, I'll have a go this weekend, maybe 2. Workin on crispy! and trim. Might thro in a little flavor profile, who knows.

Mark

#17 Derrick Galiste

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 11:55 AM

View PostVance Salvador, on 01 February 2010 - 10:31 PM, said:

Thanks Matt, I expected the standard "If I told you, I'd have to kill you" line that most usually say when asked about chicken skin.

And Grumman, with what Matt said in his last post about the skin surgery, here's a good link with pictures from The Pickled Pig.

I do like this write up...but it looks like he doesn't use the bone at all. All of the chicken that has come through my table, thighs that is, always has had the bone.
What are your thoughts on this.

#18 Bill Bain

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 03:20 PM

It is a waste of time to try to get crispy skin for competition. Once sauce is applied and it is put in a box, if it was crispy at the beginning it isn't when the judges get it. I have judged a lot and I have never had crispy skin at any of my tables so save your efforts and work on trimming and the skin. The most points come from flavor so that needs to be #1 priority.

#19 Donna Fong

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 03:39 PM

I agree with Bill that the flavor is important but so is texture and appearance. He's right. In 19 contests, I've never gotten cripsy skin. I think I'd mistake it for fried chicken if I did. The sauce and box would probably soften it. That being said, if you are striving for a 9 in texture, then you pretty much have to have bite through skin.

Also, the thing about bone in or boneless...I've gotten both types in contests. Either can score very high. You just have to know your stuff if you choose to go boneless since it cooks much faster, maybe difficult to probe temperature because of the desconstruction and the gaps if air created in the chicken and worry about the few judges out there who don't like deconstructed chicken. I think there are only a few of those around. That being said, if you remove the bone, you're more likely to get the skin to wrap/seal all of the way around the thigh and have it look better.

Hope the contest went well.




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