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The vein/tendon!

scooter

Moderator
I've been researching comp chicken trimming for months and have heard several competitors mention they either remove or cut the vein in a chicken thigh and I've seen one perform surgery on a thigh to completely remove a tendon. At first I thought this was crazy. As a judge I expect thighs to contain veins and tendons and never paid them any attention what so ever until I started cooking thighs in competition. I decided that I wouldn't remove/cut any veins or tendons from my chicken thighs.
3 weeks ago Chris and I attended a backyard warmup event with CBJs to test out our new chicken recipe and process. The box went around and all judges took their sample. As I stood there waiting for them to taste and score I noticed one of the judges was sort of tearing his thigh apart. I don't recall if he'd taken a bite yet. It turns out he was looking for the vein and when each of the judges was giving me feedback and it was his turn he pointed to the vein on his judging plate that he removed from his thigh and told me I should remove it. He gave me a 9 in tenderness so there was no scoring down but I thought it odd that he'd go through the trouble of removing it and pointing it out to me if he wasn't going to dock me a point for not removing it myself. None of the other CBJs said anything about the vein. I figured that if he was under the anonymity of the real judges tent, he would probably ding me a point for not removing it so I decided to address the vein in my trimming process going forward.
So fast forward to last weekend at Santa Anita. When I trimmed the thighs up I tried making a small surgical cut with a knife where I thought the vein was and cut it in all the thighs. Well, when the scoring was done, I received five 8's and a 9 in tenderness. I know for a fact that our process produces perfect tender bite through skin in all our pieces so I'm sure the 8's were not from skin. The only 2 things I can think of was lack of moisture (but I had good moisture in all the pieces we sampled) and the other is either the vein and/or the tendon not being cut/removed.
If you guys don't mind sharing, what are your thoughts about removing/cutting the vein and/or tendon in your comp chicken thighs?
 
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Big Poppa

Administrator
scooter please save yourself anguish....It is the randomness of comp bbq and if you fixate on one comps result you will be in a straight jacket. first off when you trim the flap on the bottom of the thigh you can easily see the vein...the judge you saw do that should be shot there is also a master cbj up north that I wont name except it is a she anx she deconstructs all chicken before biting it
 

scooter

Moderator
I know the MCBJ you're referring to. I've judged next to her at the same table often in the past. She doesn't deconstruct. She uses her thumb and two fore fingers as teeth to "take a bite" in order to test for tenderness then takes a bite with her teeth. I know it's an unorthodox approach to check for tenderness but after comparing scores with her afterwards I can tell you she gets the job done. We're rarely more than a point apart and quite often we've given the exact same score. She also has an exquisite palate for flavors. I wish I could pick out and identify flavors like she can.
She can be outspoken and I feel she's misunderstood by many, it is what it is but I rate her abilities to judge BBQ very high.
I appreciate your chicken feedback BP. Thank you.




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Big Poppa

Administrator
i wish rick hadnt deleted his post..but the good thing is now you are figuring out why some contests the judging didnt match the cook
 

jimsbarbecue

Moderator
We do remove the vein when we cook thighs for regular eating. I also trim all the fat,tendon don't worry about. The only reason I take the vein out is that it could color the meat or look like it isn't cook well enough. I take it out with a paper towel. When prepared like this we have converted a lot of folks who thought they didn't like thighs to fans. I think the fat pocket turns a lot of people off. I don't know if it would help on comp chicken.
 

scooter

Moderator
Rick, in the same way that pitmasters have devised many different ways to cook chicken thighs for comps that result in juicy tender chicken, there are judges that have devised more than one way to judge tenderness. The MCBJ in question has found a way that works for her with chicken and I can vouch that it does indeed work.
Why can cooks come up with many different methods to cook BBQ but judges seem to be expected to all use the same method to judge it? As long as the results are consistent the method is irrelevant.


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scooter

Moderator
Thanks for your feedback Jim. I remove most of the fat from the pocket but leave some behind for moisture and flavor. I agree that it can turn folks off the get a big ball of chicken fat in the mouth, especially some judges


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scooter

Moderator
Yes BP, as a cook now I have a different perspective. It has changed the way I judge when I'm in the tent. I give even more benefit of the doubt to the cook now than I did before knowing now what cooks go through. However, it swings both ways. I know now what attention to detail it takes to win contests and now when I see an entry where there was no attention paid to the details I figure the cook was either ignorant or lazy, neither of which I reward.


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TentHunter

Moderator
We do remove the vein when we cook thighs for regular eating. I take it out with a paper towel.

Jim, that would be some good info to post. Do you have any pics showing how you remove it with a paper towel? If not, can you take some next time you get a chance and post?

P.S. I know it's tough getting camera shots like that while your hands are already busy (not to mention messy)! ;)
 

Big Poppa

Administrator
Yeah scooter sloppy stuff and clueless stuff I agree with but I can say that I have been cooking long enough with enough success that my bad cooks are not horrible....WE are pretty consistent so when we get hit with a left field score it hurts.

Scooter there are people who I also respect that dont have the same confidence in her judging techniques. I cook for teeth not thumbs.

Judging is why I never ever go to northern california....there are teams that do pretty well though and get killed in so cal...
 

scooter

Moderator
Cliff, you're in luck. I dissected a few thighs last night with an X-acto knife and googled my findings. The vein/tendon combo I was looking for was actually an artery and a nerve and a vein. About a quarter inch under the oyster running parallel to the bone.

Here they are after a small incision with the knife to expose them. The first 2 thighs did not fare so well as this one having been torn apart to find the artery, nerve, and vein. By the third thigh I was practicing how to surgically remove them with the least amount of damage to the thigh. The artery is the one on the left closest to the bone. They're both situated right where a judge would take a bite.


The nerve


The artery


Use a pair of hemostats (or needlenose pliers), clamp on and gently tug one direction until it releases then tug the other way until it releases. The artery is at the bottom of the pic. They are quite long and run approx the length of the thigh although not in a straight line.


Here's a different thigh completely opened up to expose all three. There are other veins in there but they're pretty small. The artery and nerve are the main offenders due to their size and toughness so they will get my attention going forward. I've not seen that vein in all thighs I've worked on.
 
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TentHunter

Moderator
Great pics and easy to understand.

Thanks a bunch for taking the time to get the pics & post this, J̶i̶m̶ ... scooter!
 
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jimsbarbecue

Moderator
I guess I hacked into Scooter's account and post photos. I must be so good at this that even I didn't know or it is a April Fools prank. The best part is the "Scooter" photos are great.
 

TentHunter

Moderator
Can you say, DUH!!!! Apparently I can... very well!

Scooter I did see you were the one who posted them, & don't know why I typed, "Jim." I was pretty tired (just got back from an extended weekend trip to Chicago with a bus load of band kids).
rolleyes.gif


Corrected above (sorry scooter).

OK, I'm going back to sit in my corner now!
 
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