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Competition BBQ *On Topic Only* Discussion regarding all aspects of Competition BBQ. Experiences competing or visiting, questions, getting started, Equipment, announcements of events, Results, Reviews, Planning, etc. Questions here will be responded to with competition BBQ in mind.


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Unread 08-29-2005, 08:09 PM   #1
Jeff_in_KC
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Default Chicken Thighs

OK my first attempt at thighs to practice for contest (edited for relevance in this forum) didn't go as well as I would have liked. I had my fire on the WSM at 250* or so and then dropped it down a bit. Left the thighs on for three hours. Came out and the farkin skin was BLACK. I had brined them, then injected with a couple of kinds of marinade and finally put Jay's Hen n Hog Dust under the skin and on top of the skin.

The flavor of the meat was pretty good (although I was involved in my fantasy football league draft and the internal temp got up to 186* and dried them just a slight bit. I tried to crisp the skin up skin side down on the grill but it left nasty grill marks. The skin also had pulled away so it didn't evenly cover the thighs any longer. It was difficult to glaze them on the grill because the skin kept pulling off.

Can some of you give me some pointers on thighs... things to try, to do differently and not do at all?

Thanks!
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Unread 08-29-2005, 09:09 PM   #2
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Default RE: Chicken Thighs

I never do well when cooking chiken pieces, I feel your pain. If i have to cook chicken and can not convince the wife to do it, on the grill, or pull out the little deep fryer.

How long till you have to perfect your technique?
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Unread 08-29-2005, 09:11 PM   #3
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Default RE: Chicken Thighs

Jeff
I cook thighs at 250 or slightly higher, they stay on till I get the color I want, the internal normally will range from 170 to 175. At that point they go into a pan of sauce skink down for about one hour. During this part of the cook the skin tenderizes (not crispy). They come out of the pan of sauce and go back onto the grates to set the glaze.
The sauce is a mixture of sauce, some hot sauce, honey, cayenne, pineapple juice and a couple of pats of butter.
You end up with great looking skin that is nice and shinny. The skin you can get a clean bite without having to crisp it up.
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Unread 08-29-2005, 09:24 PM   #4
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Default RE: Chicken Thighs

Thanks, Jim... GREAT ideas! Can't wait to give it another shot using that method. I assume that pan of sauce needs to be over charcoal at contests, huh?
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Unread 08-29-2005, 09:41 PM   #5
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Default Re: RE: Chicken Thighs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_in_KC
Thanks, Jim... GREAT ideas! Can't wait to give it another shot using that method. I assume that pan of sauce needs to be over charcoal at contests, huh?
Jim is real busy and has left the Forum for tonight.
On his behalf--"YES--in the smoker still" during the pan/sauce phase.

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Unread 08-29-2005, 10:47 PM   #6
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Jeff,
Jim's recipie is very similar to what Chad and I do now.
It will score well if done correctly.
But, Jim has done this for years and we have for over a year.
This type of cooking technique has many variables.
Easy to get unreliable results till you "work up to it" and develop your own version and reliability. You will die in Comp if you are not consistant

May I suggest you establish a "base-line" of taste and texture, then move forward in complexity as you learn?
Thighs are cheap, cook times are short, and they are predictable. Easy to practice, even after "work"!

Try this to start:
Marinade some thighs in Italian Dressing for 3 hours.
Put the WSM at 240-260 degrees using KingsFord and some small wood chunks. Pecan, Oak, Cherry, Apple, and other small chunks all work fine.

Put the Chickie Thighs on the grate, skin side up, and cook for 3 hours at 240-260. Or use 275-300 for 2.5 hours. It don't matter.

Leave the darn lid closed--do not peek--do not spray--do not mop--do not go off and do other things and ignore the temp

At 3 hours (or 2.5 hours)--remove the thighs carefully (do not mess up the skin--use the sides to lift).
Apply a light coat of your favorite sauce and let sit for 15 minutes.

Sample and enjoy

We have placed well in highly competetive fields doing nothing more that this!
Now, we are doing the more complex panning technique and using advanced flavors.
But, this is to "move up" a point or two--not to get a basic product started
And, as it gets more complex, it gets easier to screw up--believe me

Do it simple--get a base line taste and texture--then modify one item at a time till you get where you want to go
FWIW.

TIM
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Unread 08-29-2005, 11:38 PM   #7
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Tim
I've cooked thighs and breast that way for a number of years, the reason for the switch to the pan tecnique is to be sure to get the skin tender. Like any cooking technique the more you practice the more you can build on the overall recipe. Great advice.
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Unread 08-30-2005, 06:45 AM   #8
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Jeff;

Jim and Tim are giving you the kind of information that is actually discussed around the cookers and cook offs. We're ALL looking for the "secret" to chicken skin. The chicken meat is pretty forgiving - the skin is the problem.

You have to treat the pieces gently - we never use tongs during a cookoff.

And, you have to watch the color of the chicken - Jim, again, mentioned something that is "different" from the backyard cook - we check the color and take action - we KNOW we can finish the meat on time - but the color may develope differently from cooker to cooker (slightly different convection, different humidity, outside temps causing the cooker to fluctuate) - we KNOW our chicken will be done in 2.5 - 3 hours. We kNOW what our cooker temp is (and we check the chicken internal with a instant read) and so we shoot for the skin color and adjust everything else around that!!
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Unread 08-30-2005, 08:03 AM   #9
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Jeff,

You better get practicing if you're still planning on winning the American Royal!!
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Unread 08-30-2005, 08:14 AM   #10
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Good advice here. We cook our chicken on a weber (kettle) for the first hour or so - until we get the color we are looking for. Then we do as Jim mentioned and put itin a covered 1/2 pan with sauce. We do ours skin up but get the same results - soft tender skin you can bite through. Too many people try to get crisp skin - you don't need it and usually end up making it too dark.
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Unread 08-30-2005, 08:17 AM   #11
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That's all good advice and exactly what I was looking for with this thread. More input is always welcome in my situation! :) I plan on doing thighs at least 5-6 more times before the Royal, maybe more. I'm thinking maybe the skin got too dark quickly because of the sugar content of the rub I used. (It's all Jay's fault! )

Question... if you don't use tongs, what do you do to move/turn thighs? Gloves? That would be the only option I see that would be more gentle on the meat.

drbbq, don't worry about me practicing... that's not a problem. My wife says our whole house is getting smoked as much as I've been cooking lately! I did change my outlook on the Royal from no illusions of winning to "by God, I'm gonna do it!" I believe in the power of positive thoughts and visualizing goals. I envision myself walking the stage at the Royal every morning when I wake up and each night when I go to bed! It may not carry me past all 400-500 teams entered but if it carries me past 100-200 of them, that's something to build on, right?
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Unread 08-30-2005, 08:24 AM   #12
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I think that's a much more realistic goal. Finishing in the top 100 is a serious accomplishment. But hey, anything can happen. See you there!
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Unread 08-30-2005, 08:26 AM   #13
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dr, looking forward to meeting ya there! You're in the Invitational, aren't you?
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Unread 08-30-2005, 12:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drbbq
I think that's a much more realistic goal. Finishing in the top 100 is a serious accomplishment. But hey, anything can happen. See you there!
I'd go as far as saying the top 150........

U remember me saying that at Charleston, there were 63 teams, with 41 of them being state or grand champions? My guess there will be at least a 100 that were GC, RS, or state champs at the AR.....
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Unread 08-30-2005, 12:48 PM   #15
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The few that I had room for turned out good. I used the 3-2-1 method, no brining at all, just a rub. They were tasty the next day.
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