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3rd Christmas and 1st attempt at "competition" style chicken thighs

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  • pmorse36
    Former Member
    • Jun 2018
    • 107
    • Atlanta, GA

    3rd Christmas and 1st attempt at "competition" style chicken thighs

    One of the most interesting parts of being married is getting integrated into a sometime fractured second family dynamic. My wife's family would be the poster child for this. A nasty divorce for her parents and quick follow up second marriages and second families yields some interesting negotiations at the holidays! On the silver lining side, it gives me yet another excuse to cook for a fun, hungry crowd This particular crew is pretty light on formality, so I decided to just keep it simple and try out some new recipes as I knew they'd be happy with this plan. After a trip to the butcher, my plan got trimmed down to 3 meat courses: 1) cracked fennel and garlic rubbed pork shoulder with a Kentucky black bbq sauce, spice rubbed whole chicken wings with an Alabama style celery seed white sauce and finally my "competition" style chicken thighs.

    It was an ambitious menu, but the wings and pulled pork were easy, I was only nervous about the thighs. After a lot of research, I decided to try a chicken brine of salt, sugar, celery, carrot, parsley, bay leaf and peppercorns over night for the thighs. I let them go for 24 hours, took them out, patted dry and let set up on a wire rack in the fridge for a few hours to completely dry out (please note: this was not for an actual comp, so I didn't get crazy with trimming the thighs to size and uniformity.).

    Once dry, I placed the thighs in a disposable aluminum pan and tucked extra skin underneath to make them as uniform as possible. Once pretty'd up, I sprinkled with my house bbq dry rub and pats of butter and let them set up for an hour at room temp while I pre-heated the smoker to 375. I chose a combo of south Georgia white oak and pecan as my wood, both from our land.
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    Once the smoker got to temp, I placed the pans on the heated side of the grill and cooked for 60 minutes. Every 20 minutes I gave the thighs a quick spray of apple juice to moisten. At the 60 minute mark, I flipped all the thighs, sprayed, and sprinkled with a light dusting of the rub and cooked for an additional 20 minutes. At the end of the 20, I flipped, dusted again and cooked for ~30 minutes until the thighs hit 180 internal temp. When they hit 180, I dipped them in my sauce and put back on the grill for 10 minutes to set the sauce.

    I can honestly say this was the first time I'd done a dedicated cook for thighs alone, but they were fall off the bone tender with bite through skin! I'd definitely recommend this process with your own tweaks for flavors as a good starting point for comp chicken. Good luck!


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ID:	621074 The fennel-garlic rubbed pork didn't suck either

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    Happy family spread!

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  • RonB
    Club Member
    • Apr 2016
    • 12315
    • Near Richmond VA
    • Weber Performer Deluxe
      Pizza insert
      Smokenator 1000
      Cookshack Smokette Elite
      2 Thermapens
      lots of probes.

    That sounds like a great meal. The thighs look very tasty.


    • Troutman
      Club Member
      • Aug 2017
      • 7190
      • Republic of Texallence

        22" Weber Kettle - Red Premium Limited Edition
        6 Burner Weber Summit Gasser
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        Pitts & Spitts Pellet Pro 2436
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        SNS for the 22" Weber kettle
        A-MAZE-N Smoker 12" Tube & Tray
        Weber stainless veggie basket
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        Weber stainless rib rack
        Phat Mat cooking mats
        Barbestar BBQ Cooking Gloves
        For Beef (brisket, beef ribs, large clods/roasts) = 100% mesquite, oak or hickory
        For Chicken & other fowl = competition blend, cherry/oak/hickory
        For Turkey = 100% hickory or competition blend
        For Pork Shoulder = mesquite, oak or hickory
        For Pork Chops or Ribs = 100% applewood
        SOUS VIDE
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        JA Henckels 15 piece Stainless Knife Set
        Victorinox 12" Fibrox Pro Slicing Knive
        Victorinox 6" Curved Boning Knife
        Set of Dalstrong Japanese Steak Knives

      Nice color on your cue, great lookin’ fare. Well done, you’re on a roll my friend !!


      • grantgallagher
        Club Member
        • Feb 2018
        • 974
        • NJ

        That looks awesome! I gotta ask though, 180 seems high for thighs compared to what i usually see here. You obviously know what you are doing so what is the rationale?


        • tdimond
          tdimond commented
          Editing a comment
          From what I've seen/read, the dark meat should be between 175-180 to keep it from being slimy. It's certainly done at 165. I've started pulling poultry when the white meat hits 160, since carryover heating and time at temp will kill enough of the bad stuff.

        • IowaGirl
          IowaGirl commented
          Editing a comment
          Thighs cooked to around 165 F is fine -- the meat is properly cooked and juicy, but maybe a little too soft to the bite. IMO, thighs pulled at 175-180 F are a big notch better -- they can still be juicy, but they'll have a firmer texture with nice crispy bits. The grill/smoker temp needs to be hot enough so the thighs don't dry out before they get to that higher pull temp. To pull thighs at 175-180, a grill/smoker temp of 350-375 F seems to be the winner -- 250-300 F isn't hot enough, IMO.

        • grantgallagher
          grantgallagher commented
          Editing a comment
          Good to know. Ill def go a little higher and check out the difference. Thanks.
      • Mr. Bones
        Birthday Hat Master
        • Sep 2016
        • 8884
        • Kansas Territory
        • Grills / Smokers

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          Probably a ton of cast iron, mostly very old...still cookin'
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        Great lookin food, nice write up, excellent pics, Fine Job!

        I'd love to hear more bout th sauces, an rubs, if yer willin to share with us...

        Smoke On, Brother!


        • jecucolo
          Club Member
          • Nov 2015
          • 1245
          • Schertz Texas
          • Pit Barrel Cooker
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          Man oh man! That kind of cooking has a way of healing the family fractures. I am sure your cooking brought the family a little closer. Congratulations!


          • klflowers
            Club Member
            • Sep 2015
            • 3034
            • Tennessee

            Nice looking cook you got there


            • HawkerXP
              Club Member
              • Jul 2016
              • 5119
              • Northern Virginia
              • 3 Weber kettles, and a PBC
                Dot w two probes
                Slo n Sear
                Cold beer

              Very nice! Happy Holidays for all!


              • FishTalesNC
                Club Member
                • Dec 2017
                • 1147
                • Durham, NC

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                Oh man I am so hungry all the sudden... looks fabulous! Our family prefers legs and thighs ~180F as well, at least they make it easy on me by all being in agreement on that one!


                • jfmorris
                  Club Member
                  • Nov 2017
                  • 2802
                  • Huntsville, Alabama
                  • Jim Morris

                    • Camp Chef FTG900 Flat Top Grill (2020)
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                    • Whatever I brewed and have on tap!

                  Good looking cook, and all those spices you used in your recipes sound amazing!


                  • Black99vette
                    Club Member
                    • Jun 2016
                    • 378
                    • Aurora, IL

                    • Smokers & Grills
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                      • No name brand
                      • A wireless unit - not sure of the brand

                      • Slow 'N Sear
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                      • Grilling / Smoking & Cooking
                      • Work Working
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                      About Me
                      Real Name: Wayne
                      Location: Aurora, IL

                      • Software Engineer Manager - Home Automation, Security / Access Control & Video Systems

                    Wow - great looking food!


                    • pmorse36
                      Former Member
                      • Jun 2018
                      • 107
                      • Atlanta, GA


                      Thanks guys! Appreciate all the positive feedback! A few folks have asked for recipes noted above. I have really gotten into making my own spices and spice mixes lately. The store bought stuff is too packed with unhealthy preservatives, too much salt and sugar for my tastes. We are blessed to have some amazing spice markets close by here in Atlanta, so I have been buying whole seeds, peppers and fruits, dehydrating them and grinding. This is also a fun way to get creative and expand the scope of flavors for what BBQ can be. With that being said, here's some recipes! Enjoy!

                      Poultry Rub (used on the chicken wings)
                      - 1 cup sea salt
                      - 2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
                      - 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
                      - 2 teaspoons ground cumin seed
                      - 2 teaspoons ground chile de arbol
                      - 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
                      - 2 tablespoons ground sumac
                      - 1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano (whole seed)

                      Fennel Pollen Rub (used on whole chickens and our Thanksgiving turkey)
                      - 1 cup sea salt
                      - 1/2 cup ground white pepper
                      - 1/4 cup rubbed sage
                      - 2 tablespoons fennel pollen (amazing flavor and fragrance!)
                      - 5 tablespoons turbinado sugar
                      - 2 tablespoons aji amarillo (this a Peruvian pepper, similar to an ancho, with a mild spice and smoky flavor)

                      Caraway Rub (used on the stuffed pork loin I posted last week)
                      - 3 tablespoons kosher salt
                      - 1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
                      - 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
                      - 1 tablespoon fresh ground caraway seeds
                      - 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
                      - 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion

                      Fennel Garlic Rub (used on the pork shoulder above)
                      - 1/2 cup sea salt
                      - 1/4 cup cracked black pepper
                      - 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
                      - 1 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
                      - 2 teaspoons fresh cracked fennel seeds

                      Mustard Sauce (used on pork and chicken in the pics above)
                      - 3/4 cup yellow mustard
                      - 1/4 cup whole-grain Creole mustard
                      - 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
                      - 3 tablespoons honey
                      - 1 teaspoon sea salt
                      - 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
                      - 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

                      Celery Seed White Sauce (used on the chicken wings above)
                      - 1 1/2 cups Duke's mayo
                      - 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
                      - 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
                      - 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
                      - 1 1/2 teaspoons whole celery seed
                      - 1 teaspoon cayenne
                      - 2 teaspoon sea salt
                      - 3 teaspoons honey

                      Worcestershire Mop Sauce
                      - 1 quart apple cider vinegar
                      - 1/4 cup sea salt
                      - 1/8 cup fresh ground white pepper
                      - 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
                      - 1/4 cup Valentina hot sauce (or whatever you like)
                      - 8 tablespoons butter

                      Mix all ingredients aside from the butter and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, take off the heat and gradually add in the butter, whisking constantly. Use to baste your pork shoulder every 30 minutes and reserve some for the table.


                      • Santamarina
                        Club Member
                        • Aug 2018
                        • 674
                        • Wildomar, CA

                        I'm sure it all tasted as good as it looks! Thanks for sharing the recipes too!


                        • DeusDingo
                          Founding Member
                          • Jul 2014
                          • 1142
                          • Madison, WI
                          • Weber Q320 grill
                            Masterbuilt Propane Smoker
                            Maverick and thermo Pen thermometers

                          wow. i would be impressed if served that!


                          • Skip
                            Founding Member
                            • Jul 2014
                            • 3109
                            • Blue Earth, Minnesota
                            • MAK Pellet Grill, Large BGE, Weber Kettle with SnS, Weber Gasser, Pit Barrel Cooker, Cast Iron Pans & Griddle, Grill Grates, Mostly Thermoworks Thermometers

                            Great looking Chicken and Pork!




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