T Nation

Chicken Thighs

I compete in BBQ contests on the professional level, so I have an idea or two about cooking to make things taste better. The majority of foods I cook in contests will make a person fat. BBQing is synonymous with high fat content and not very healthy. But, if you tweek a few things, and use different cuts of meat, then you can make BBQ a small part of your diet. I?m not touting a new-fad BBQ diet, but everyone, including myself, gets stuck in a dieting rut and certain foods tend to start tasting bland. Here?s another look at cooking and eating chicken for those of us wanting to drop fat. Chicken thighs, when prepared correctly, will have just a few grams more fat than chicken breasts. Every one, at one time or another, will be tired of chicken breasts when dieting and are always looking for a way to make chicken taste better and not so boring ! Well, here are my thoughts on preparing Chicken thighs. First off, you need an outdoor grill or smoker. Also, a big package of thighs at Sam?s cost about $5-6. Buy as much as what can fit on your cooker if your confident you?ll not screw up the first go-round. You will also need a sugarless ?Rub? from the store. If you can?t find one, PM me and I?ll send you a recipe. You may want to trim off a little excess skin from the thighs. After you?ve trimmed, take your fingers and work the skin loose from the meat. Apply the rub ?underneath? the skin, and on the bottom of the thigh. Keep the skin on!!! On an outdoor grill you?ll have to cook your thighs indirectly (meaning that the heat source is on one side of the grill and the meat on the other.) Hopefully you can maintain a low temp on your grill/smoker of around 220-250. Slow cook your thighs for about 4 hours until the meat reaches 180. You may want to add a handful or two of ?DRY? hickory chips onto your fire. If you use a gas grill, put these chips in a bag with a little water, and let it pre-heat a bit on the grill before you add the meat. Chicken can over-smoke easily, so be easy on the chips. Contrary to popular belief, you need not have your grill/smoker look like a freight train to obtain a smoky flavor. After the thighs reach 180, take them out of the cooker. You may take the skin off then. let them rest for about 20 minutes. You may then pull the meat from the bones once it?s cool enough to mess with. Bag this meat up and freeze it or do whatever. For those of you wondering about the fattening skin, don?t worry about it too much. This long cooking process renders out most of the fat from the skin and this fat helps to keep the meat moist during cooking. If you?re wondering why your meat looks a little pink on the outside, it?s from the smoke penetration. Nothing to worry about. Just make sure the thighs reach doneness temp. at the thickest part. I know, I know? It sounds like a lot of work. But if you have a lazy Sunday, might as well try something different. This same technique works well for bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and whole turkey breasts. I wouldn?t recommend trying white-meat for the first time, because there is not much room for error with white meat. You may have good success your first time trying this and you?ll have some tasty chicken !!

Great idea! I love thighs :wink:


Are the Hickory chips necessary? All in all this chicken thigh cooking sounds like a good idea. Sometimes, eating dry chicken breasts gets old fast. I’m going to try this out this weekend. Also, any ideas for a good beef marinade? The marinades I buy at the store, are just awful!! Thanks for the tips.

hickory chips or any other wood is not really necessary. Just think of it as an ingredient.

As far as beef marinades go, I know a bunch for brisket, but that’s because it’s an awful piece of meat, and that’s what I have to compete with. Most great tasting beef cuts are the ones that are marbled. I personally love these good cuts of meat with just a little salt and pepper and grill them to medium rare. I like my beef to taste like beef.

I have a good marinade for whole tenderloin at home that i use, and I don’t remember right now. But it does have equal parts of red wine and red wine vinegar, and sprigs of fresh rosmary and garlic.

What I like to do in a crunch and don’t want to put much effort into is buy a London Broil, which is usually pretty cheap and hardly marbled. If it’s a thick peice, like 1", then I cut it in half to make it thinner. Then i slice it into 1/4" strips, PERPENDICULAR to the grain. Add a little Black pepper, dash or two of Chipolte powder, and some good quality chili powder. Cook in the skittlet, easy fajita meat ! Cheaper, leaner cuts of meat can be tender, if cut and prepared properly.

Here is another secret to great chicken thighs: marinade them in Paul Newman’s Olive Oil and vinegar salad dressing for 12 hours before you put rub on and cook them. I don’t think this way is healthy, :slight_smile: but it sure makes awesome tasting chicken !!.. it doesn’t add flavor very much, but it does change the texture and juciness. Eat these on the off season, and anyone with a good appetite will not stop until they’re gone !!..

For this salad dressing there are no substitutes !

Just realize too, that cooking low-n-slow is not an exact science. BBQ is not as easy as a box of cake mix. It takes practice. If you already know your way around the kitchen, then you should have success in the beginning. Chicken thighs are the easiest to start with.

Remember too, that keeping things clean, work area, tools, etc. is paramount ! especially with chicken !!