Secrets to Grilling Perfect Chicken Thighs

Hey everybody, today we’re making chicken thighs on a kettle grill. This simple dish can feed a crowd, and it packs a big old punch of tasty. So follow me, and let’s turn up the heat. (heavy rock music) Chicken thighs are perfect for backyard barbecues, because they’re relatively inexpensive. I can find these for about 99 cents a pound. And they’re a great alternative to hamburgers. Now you can use boneless or bone-in thighs for this recipe, but either way I recommend you remove the skin. It’s really fatty, it will cause a lot of flare-ups, and it’s just really difficult to get crispy, unless you’re flipping a lot, or using some kind of indirect heat. So I just removed it, and I use it for chicken stock. So again, while you could cook them bone-in or boneless, I really prefer boneless, because it promotes a quicker cooking, and more evenly cooked product. Just one other quick note, there’s a smooth side, and a rough side to the chicken thigh.

So I like to cook these, when I put them down, I’ll put the smooth side down. This is going to be the nice presentation side. But let’s talk about seasoning these. You can really season them however you want. As a matter of fact, marinades are really great for this, because there’s a lot of nooks and crannies on the not smooth side where the flavor can hide. Marinating is great, but sometimes it can take a lot of time, and I just want to get these on the grill, and in my belly as fast as possible. So today I’m just going to season them with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, and some Jojo Rub.

It’s a combination of spices that are commonly found in most household kitchens. And it’s a great accoutrement for cooking chicken or pork. You want to get them thoroughly coated so that we don’t see anymore white on the chicken. (heavy rock music) Okay, now that this is thoroughly coated with seasoning, let’s head outside, and put them on the grill. (whoosh) Okay, so now we have our fire going. This is jumbo lump charcoal, all natural, in a kettle grill. So when you’re cooking chicken thighs over an open fire like this there’s a ton of variables. How hot is the fire? How close is the fire to the food? You know, look, this really more of an art than it is a science.


So you’ll have to practice. But we’re just gonna feel what’s the hottest part of the grill? It’s right down here, down the middle. So we’re gonna put the chicken down. And we’re gonna put the smooth side down first. Remember, that’s our presentation side, so that’s where we want to get those nice sear marks. My best tip to you is develop a system for putting these down. So I always start at the top. I work my way down over the hottest part of the grill, and then I fill in around the exterior. Now we don’t want burned chicken. So if you start to get a lot of flare-ups, go ahead and put that dome on, and cool the fire down just a little bit.

Now that I have those down the middle I’m gonna go around the outside. And we’re just gonna let these cook for about two minutes before we flip them. Quick note on flipping, unlike steak or hamburgers, where we only want you to flip it once maybe twice, go ahead and feel free to flip these about three or four times. That’s gonna promote caramelization, and really help kick up the flavor profile on these tasty birds. Okay these have been on for two minutes, so I’m gonna go ahead and flip them now.

I don’t want them to burn. And look at that, we’re already getting some nice color. Again, I remember the way that I put them down, and I’m just gonna flip them in that same exact order. Look at that awesome color, that awesome char. That’s exactly what we’re looking for. Because I always put down the chicken thighs down the same way. I know that I put this one down, then this. Now we’re gonna come over here. Get this flipped, now this is a real thin part. And this is the cool part of the fire. So I want to keep this thick part over the fire. That’s gonna take the longest to cook. Just a little tip to think about as you’re cooking these. As you can see we’re getting some flare-ups right here. So I’m gonna go ahead and throw the dome down, come back in about another two minutes.

Okay so these have been on here for another two minutes. As you can see this is clearly the hottest part of the fire. This bird is getting a little bit more color, while this one is getting a little bit less so this is clearly the cooler part of the fire. So I’m gonna go ahead and rotate these off. Whoa! Look at that flame, here we go. We’re gonna come back over here , flip that side down, let that get some color. You can see this another very hot part of the grill, based upon the color this is getting. We’re just gonna go ahead and move this to the outside, to a little bit cooler part. As I mentioned earlier, that thick part of the thigh is still over the flame.

So think about that as you rotate these out. Here’s another one, we’re gonna go ahead and get that one on the inside right there. You can see it didn’t get nearly as hot as some of the other ones did. (heavy rock music) Okay they’ve been down for about another two minutes. I was getting a lot of flare-ups. So I had the lid down, but as you can see it’s still really hot. What I don’t want to do is I don’t want to burn these. And I’d rather flip them too much than serve my guests bunt chicken. So again, this still continues to be the hottest part of the grill. I’m actually gonna rotate this out. Let this bottom piece right here get some color on that smooth side right there. And these are grilling up perfectly as you can see. (heavy rock music) Okay so we just flipped these for the fourth time, and they got about another four or five minutes of cooking.

I just want to take a moment to talk about proper internal temperature. USDA recommends an internal temperature minimum of 165 degrees. I don’t like these when they’re cooked to 165 degrees. It’s a very soft texture. So I like to really cook them at a higher temperature. 180, 185 degrees, really firms up the texture. And makes for a much more tasty chicken in my opinion. Okay, so these have been cooking now for about 13 minutes, and they’re done. How do I know that they’re done? Well I can feel, and I can also tell that they are completely white all the way throughout.

That’s how you can tell, but if you’re unsure I’ll tell you this, you can never go wrong instant read thermometer. Go ahead and use that, you’d rather be safe than sorry with chicken. So we’re gonna pull these off. As I pull these off, I just want to mention on other note on food safety. You’ll see that these are not the same tongs I used to put down the raw chicken. I switched them out halfway through the video. Because they touched raw chicken, and this is fully cooked chicken. I don’t want to cross contaminate. So again these are new tongs, and I recommend you do the same, better safe than sorry. (whoosh) Hey everybody, we’re back inside now. I’m thanking this because it is incredibly hot outside, about 100 degrees. But we’re ready to check out this chicken. So let’s take a look. And as you can see, right here, it’s basically fork tender. White and tasty all the way throughout. Those grill marks give it a lot of good flavor.


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