Chicken thighs are one of my favorite things to grill in the summertime. Any piece can be used for this recipe, but the thigh is my preference. Of course since it’s chicken, it has to be brined. I used a cajun inspired version of my brine recipe for this. If you’ve never brined poultry, I can’t stress enough what a difference it makes. Don’t think about it too much, just do it and let me know what you think.
As always, I use only charcoal and my trusty chimney starter on my Weber Kettle. The mesquite chips add just the right amount of sweet wood smoked flavor. I use a combination indirect/ direct cooking method in order to give it that smokey taste along with some charred up flavor as well.
I’ve tried many sauce recipes over the years, but never found one that I really liked. I went with prepared sauce for a long time, but last year I finally threw together a simple, fresh sauce that we like quite a bit. It has fresh ingredients so it’s only good for a week or two in the fridge.
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- FOR THE SAUCE:
- 1 cup Hunts all natural (no high fructose corn syrup) ketchup
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 small shallot, grated (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
- 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- FOR THE BRINE:
- 1 quart hot water
- 1 quart cold water
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 tablespoon dry white wine
- 1 whole clove
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
- ½ tablespoon granulated garlic
- ½ tablespoon onion powder
- 3 shakes Volcanic Peppers Chocolate Lightening hot sauce
- FOR THE CHICKEN:
- 8 chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and skin
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 2 cups mesquite wood chips (soaked in water for 30 minutes)
- Combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Heat 1 quart water in a large non-reactive pot until hot enough to dissolve the salt and brown sugar. Add the peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, clove, bay leaf, granulated garlic, onion powder, and molasses and mix until molasses is dissolved. Add 1 quart of cold water and refrigerate until brine is cold (below 40 degrees).
- Add white wine, worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce to to brine. Place chicken in brine and refrigerate for 90 minutes.
- Remove chicken and discard the brine. Rinse chicken under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place chicken on large plate lined with paper towels and let stand in refrigerator for at least an hour. Pat chicken dry and coat with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic.
- Prepare your grill for indirect cooking. For example, put coals on just one side of the grill. Add wood chips to hot coals. Once they begin smoldering, place chicken on side of grill without coals. Arrange your chicken so the larger pieces are closer to the coals. Cover until wood chips stop producing smoke (about 15 minutes). Flip chicken, baste with warm sauce on both sides, and cook for about 15 minutes or until internal temperature has reached 165 degrees. A few pieces at a time, transfer chicken to hot side of grill and cook on each side until desired level of “char” is reached. It doesn’t take long, so be very careful not to burn the chicken. Remove chicken and repeat.