On the BBQ circuit there are three main types of meat being cooked: brisket, ribs, or chicken thighs. Some events even go as far as challenging teams to cook all three within a 24 hour period. Mark and I have dialed in our brisket, pork butt, and rib recipes for the most part, so for me it was time to take a look at chicken thighs; the last piece of the barbecue trifecta. If you follow us on this blog you already know that Mark and I love a challenge so naturally I picked a nice weather weekend, stocked up on charcoal, picked up some chicken thighs, and got to work…
There’s some tedious work involved in prepping the thighs for cooking. Here’s how I tackled the somewhat annoying task: I started by taking the skin and unfolding it from the meat. Once stretched out on the cutting board, I scraped the inside of the skin with the edge of my knife in an effort to try to thin out the skin, thus allowing it to crisp up better when on the grill. While the skin is stretched out on the cutting board I trimmed it up so that when I fold it back on top of the meat it fits nicely. For competitions, the more uniform the thigh the more points teams will score for appearance. For this cook, I just did my best to make sure there wasn’t a ton of extra skin. Next, I flipped the thigh onto its backside and trimmed off some of the fat. Leave the bone in by the way. I believe it helps the thighs cook evenly and adds a bit of flavor.
I turned to the same rub that we use for our ribs. At the time I wasn’t sure that this was a good call but decided to give it a chance since we hadn’t used it too often on chicken of any sort (more on how it turned out later). After applying the dry rub, I transferred the thighs to gallon sized freezer bags and let them marinate for about 8 hours.
With chicken thighs you want to cook pretty hot. It’s your only chance at crisping the skin. That said, this was definitely a job for my Weber kettle. I went with about a half-chimney of charcoal, lit it, and placed the charcoal in the kettle off to once side. For the first 10 minutes I placed the thighs directly over the heat (5 minutes each side). From there, I moved them to indirect heat for the about 2 hours or so at about 350 degrees. Once the yardbird reached an IT of 165 I slathered them with my homemade barbecue sauce and briefly placed them back onto direct heat to caramelize the sauce. Final IT was around 175. I will say that it is hard to ruin these things because of their fat content. My grill temp fluctuated quite a bit during this cook (chalk that up to me not using my Weber kettle enough. I really should use this thing more often).
I had my in-laws over to enjoy these with us and they absolutely loved them! They are not huge foodies so if they like something that means it was definitely good! Oh, and what about the rub that we use on our pork? How did that turn out on this chicken? Simply amazing. I’m starting to think this rub can do it all! I would say that this chicken thigh cook was a great success and I will be doing these again in the near future.