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Chicken Thighs- my continuing pursuit of perfection

Flashback BobFlashback Bob Posts: 519
edited 3:54PM in EggHead Forum
Did some thighs yesterday- 350 direct, raised grid, flipped every 20 min. They were fine but I was shooting for "best thighs ever cooked by a human". Not as juicy and tender as when I cook at lower temp or indirect, but skin was better and nothing was burnt. After cooking skin side down, the skin really stuck to the grid so it was difficult to flip and keep the skin on. When the skin came off I would try to salvage it, pulling it off the grid and setting it on top of the chicken.[p]Those skin pieces were AWESOME! My daughter said it was really good and "didn't taste so much like smoke the way it usually does". [p]I'm wondering how to get that nice crispy skin on the outside with the moist tender chicken on the inside. My daughter suggested indirect cook and then go direct, skin side down at the end.[p]Another idea was to cook it at a lower temp like 250-275 and then crank it up to crisp the skin at the end.[p]I know this has been discussed extensively in the past, but has anyone had success with crispy/juicy chicken? I think AZRP told me once but I forgot.[p]On a related note- I have heard it mentioned here that if it sticks, it's not ready to turn. Chicken skin comes off so easily, does this adage still apply?[p]


  • Mike-RRMike-RR Posts: 181
    I usually cook the thighs indirectly, then pull th e plate setter off at the end and put the chicken skin-side down so that they get nice and crispy.

    Just keep an eye on them, though, because the pit temp goes up in a hurry after the plate setter is removed. I've seen the temp jump from 350 to 400 shortly after pulling out the p/s and ended up just moving the chicken around while the lid remained open.
  • SmokeySmokey Posts: 2,468
    Flashback Bob,[p]Whey you find the right technique, please pass it on. I have made some good thighs, but I (like you ) am searching for perfection. [p]Smokey
  • DarnocDarnoc Posts: 2,661
    Try this and I think you will like it.
    Take a fork and prick the skin all over.This will let some fat come out while cooking.
    Mix one part corn starch to two parts rub.
    Sprinkle and pat the mix all over.
    Cook indirect at 350 on a raised grid for about 45 min.
    Flip over and cook till 180.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    Flashback Bob,
    i tend to repeat the "if it sticks, it ain't ready to turn" mantra over and over here.[p]have you tried the cornstarch thing? light dusting? it's a bit of insurance. i find that it's easier to mix all the spices in a bag with a tablespoon or so of cornstarch and toss it all. if you put the cornstarch on, it will dry the surface of the skin so much that spices won't stick.[p]i did it once or twice and it worked, but it doesn't add any flavor, just texture.[p]a little oil on the skin helps. i think the best skin comes from high heat, for me. i do max's version of jaques pepin's chicken roast. 500 degrees or so, indirect.[p]our mutual buddy Rami does whole chickens indirect at 250 for literally 5 or 6 hours. he swears by the crispiness. i'm too impatient for 5 hour chicken, but it's just allowing the time for it. if i can do ribs for 6/7/8 hours, no reason i couldn't adopt a new regimen for chicken.[p]spatchcocked chicken, at about 400, raised, direct, skin up gives me decent skin too. loosen it (on a whole bird) and add herbs and/or spices under the skin with a bit of oil or butter. fries the skin, essentially.

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 23,017
    i like them best 250/275 raaised grill direct cooking with a minimal amount of lump, less lump means more distance between the fire and the meat and you have less problems with the fat dripping in the fire this way. i cook til the skin gets crispy, the meat gets a little over done but its still good. one thing i did learn this year was lifting the skin up before cooking and adding a sage leaf between the skin and thigh and back in the refridge for a few hours. really made the skin much crunchier to have it lifted off the meat and dried a little before cooking.
  • Jefe,[p]Next time I do chicken parts I'll try not to turn 'em if they sticks. My problem is that the longer the chicken skin is on the grid, the more it seems to bond to the grid, but maybe that's just my expectation.[p]I have used cornstarch and the results were nothing to write home about. I always used to separate the skin on my chickens but stopped bothering because the skin was never good enough to eat.[p]I've done the 6 hour chicken and while the meat was great, the skin wasn't crispy. (are you sure Rami goes indirect on those? I did direct) On the other hand, my 6 hour duck had FANTASTIC skin! I think the difference was that I ramped up the heat for the last half-hour of the duck. You're right though, I don't always have the time for a long-cooking chicken. Especially when you know you can cook it quicker. It means that I basically have to start supper at breakfast- before taking the girls to skating, basketball, softball and getting anything else done. On the other hand it can be good- just set it and forget it![p]Thanks![p]BTW - I never did make it to the Meat Store and I am thoroughly enjoying the Balsamic you brought over before Christmas! I probably used it every day for the first week, now it's every day or two. I love that stuff!!
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    Flashback Bob,
    ...not sure whether the Ramster goes direct or indirect. assuming indirect, since it's 6 hours, but i dunno for sure.[p]glad you like the balsamic. good stuff. had a cuppla porterhouses last night over greens with the parmesan and some of the same balsamic. good stuff. hadn't had a steak i n a while. i cooked very little over the vacation, for some reason. was good to have that steak.[p]beyond my suggestions about the skin, i dunno what else to tell you. you seem to have tried a bunch of things. it's probably another case of "Bob-itis". viz: "Hey stike, do you think it has something to do with the fact that i laid an oven mitt on the chicken during the whole cook? i was trying to keep the skin warm on top. or maybe it was the grape jelly i coated it with worked against the skin crisping up." mmmmm K, bob. heh heh[p]the bob always leaves out some peculiar detail![p]check the New Forum. you have more responses over there, all more intelligent than mine

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • RRPRRP Posts: 22,052
    I've found the secret to corn starch is the need to be light and evenly dusted. I use this tea strainer do-hickie that seems to do the trick.
    L, M, S, &  Mini
    And oh yes...also a 17" BlackStone gas fired griddle! 
    Dunlap, IL
    Re- gasketing AMERICA one yard at a time!
  • Ron-
    Thanks- I did have trouble with controlling the application of cornstarch. I'm thinking of trying to mix it 1/3 - 2/3 with rub before application.
  • This sounds good, but I'm wondering if you're cooking indirect, do you still need to flip it?
  • AZRPAZRP Posts: 10,116

    I do them indirect on a raised grid, 350 dome, and pull them at 195 internal. Crispy skin and very juicy. -RP
  • icemncmthicemncmth Posts: 1,160
    Flashback Bob,[p]I like to make small slices in the skin ...then I drizzle them with some garlic infused grape seed oil..then salt and pepper..[p]
  • AZRPAZRP Posts: 10,116
    I used to do the cornstarch thing, but don't need it to get really crunchy skin. I set them on the grid skin side up and don't open the dome for 45 minutes. Then check them with the Thermopen and switch the cooler ones with the hotter ones and close it up again. Never had any sticking as there is just too much fat. That's why I leave them skin side up. -RP
  • Thanks for all the help!

  • When you fry chicken the way to get a crisp skin is to fry at high heat until skin is crisp and brown, then slow cook until about done, then turn heat back up to finish. I think this technique would work for a smoker if you baste as you go.
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