Competition Chicken Thighs

Competition Chicken Thighs Recipe

Chef Tom breaks down our method of preparing competition chicken thighs. This is the recipe we use in KCBS competitions and incorporates tips, techniques and methods we have learned from competition barbecue pitmasters like Andy Groneman of Smoke on Wheels Competition BBQ (Kansas City) and “BBQ Brian” Misko of House of Q (British Columbia, Canada).

Competition BBQ Chicken Thighs Recipe



Remove the skin from the thigh. Place the skin on a cutting board with the outside of the skin touching the board, fat side up. Using a sharp boning knife slice the fat from the skin, taking care to not puncture the skin. The skin should be very thin when finished.

Looking at the backside of the thigh, you'll notice that one end of the thighbone has a rounded end that sticks out further than the other. Using poultry shears, cut the end of the bone off. You may need to slice around the end of the bone to get your shears in there. This should allow the flesh to cover the end of the bone, and keep the bone from protruding from the end, negatively affecting the shape of the finished product. Trim any excess fat from the meat of the thighs. Continue to trim any pieces of the flesh that will stick out or cause an uneven shaped thigh. You may need to go back and do more trimming as you assess the group of thighs as a whole. You want them all to be shaped and sized as evenly and similarly as possible.

Combine the Butcher BBQ Bird Booster Chipotle Chicken Injection with water (according to the directions on the bag) and mix well to dissolve. Using a marinade injector, inject the flesh of the thigh in several places. Place your thighs in a zip top bag with the remaining injection and soak for one hour. You do not need to soak the skins. Just wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator.

Preheat your Yoder Smokers YS640 Pellet Grill to 275°F.

Remove the thighs from the bag and pat mostly dry with paper towels. Season all meat surfaces with Plowboys BBQ Yardbird Rub. Lay out your skins and lightly season the side that will make contact with the flesh. Carefully place the thigh on the skin and wrap the skin around the thigh, covering as much flesh as possible. Excess skin can be trimmed and/or tucked under the thigh. A little excess is good, as the skin will tighten as it cooks. Too much excess will negatively affect the bite.

Apply a layer of Butcher BBQ Grilling Oil Chipotle to the bottom of a foil pan. Carefully transfer the thighs to the pan, shaped and arranged as identically as possible with the skins precisely in place. Transfer the pan to the second shelf of the cooker and smoke for 30 minutes.

After the initial 30 minutes, cover the pan with foil, and continue cooking. At this point you can mix your sauce. Combine 2 parts Plowboys Sweet 180 BBQ Sauce, 2 parts Firebug Grilling Sauce Hot BBQ Sauce and 1 part Reida Honey Farm Wildflower Honey in a sauce pan. Stir to combine. Warm the sauce by placing the pan in the cooker.

Using an instant read thermometer, like the Maverick PT-75, to monitor the internal temperature. When the thighs reach an internal temperature of 150°F, remove the pan from the cooker. Place a wire glazing/cooling rack on the second shelf of the cooker. Carefully dip one thigh at a time in the sauce. Mind the skin, doing your best not to smudge the sauce as you remove it from the sauce. Transfer the thighs to the wire rack after dipping. Continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. Just before removing the thighs from the grill, lightly sprinkle the tops of the thighs with JP Custom Smoke Chicken Scratch Finishing Spice.

Remove from the cooker and store in a cooler or cambro until ready to box.


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