OK, I know it’s against all the rules….however….it’s 4 degrees outside and I want to try out both a new technique for getting chicken skin done perfectly for the judges AND try out my new Spicy BBQ Chicken Rub….so here it is.

First, I purchased two (2) family packs of Tyson chicken thighs from my local Bag N Save grocery store.  I laid them all out on the counter and trimmed and prepped them as normal, cutting off all the excess skin, fat and weird bones and veins and stuff like that.  Basically, anything I wouldn’t want to eat.

I then marinaded the chicken for 2 hours in my normal chicken marinade in a 1 gallon zipper bag.

It consists of:

  • 1 Cup Buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons of Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 4 tablespoons of the Spicy BBQ Chicken Rub (I always use the rub I plan to use for the chicken for this ingredient)

After the marinade, I preheated the oven to 350 and removed the chicken thighs from the bag, letting all the excess drip back into the bag and placed them skin down in a large foil roaster pan.

I generously coated the meat side of the thighs with the Spicy BBQ Chicken Rub and patted them down.

Then, the thighs were flipped over to skin side up.

Here’s the new technique I’m trying:
Generously coat the skin of each thigh with Real Kraft Mayo, leaving a nice solid Mayo base.  Then coat the tops of the thighs with the rub, pat it in with your hands and wrap the skin around the sides of the thigh (using the bone as the center line) for nice little packages.  Here’s what they looked like in the pan before cooking:

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To try to make up for not cooking in the smoker, I placed a smaller roasting pan in the oven with about 3/4″ of water and 20 or so drops of liquid smoke.

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I cooked the thighs for 30 minutes at this temperature and this is what they looked like after that time.  You can see that the Mayo actually does appear to be doing something WONDERFUL to the skin.  They look great!!!  Oddly enough…they also look “smoked”…..

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After the first 30 minutes, I lowered the temp to 225 and let some of the heat out of the oven to take it down to that temp more quickly, with the intention of cooking them from somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 more hours at this temp.

Here’s the progress after another 60 mintues (90 total):

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Again, I decided to take a quick look at the thighs, to see how progress is going.  They have now been cooking for 2.5 hrs total, the first 30 at 350 degrees and the last 2 hrs at 225.  I stuck a quick read thermo in the biggest thigh and it’s right at 173.  I think I’ll be safe to cook them at 225 for another 30 minutes – then I’m going to drain the juices from the pan and replace it with my favorite BBQ Sauce recipe.  Here’s what they look like now.

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After an additional 30 minutes (3 hrs total, with the first 30 minutes at 350 and the last 2.5 hrs at 225) I pulled half of the thighs out and transferred the rest to a smaller pan and sauced them.

Take a look at the way the unsauced thighs bit!  Only the skin that I bit came with it.  I must say – the skin is about as good as I’ve had and the rub made the chicken taste extrodinary.  Maybe a bit too much thyme – but really good nonetheless.

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Here’s a look at the thighs in the pan w/sauce

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The sauced ones, in my opinion turned out even better.  The bite was the same, but the flavor profile was a bit more tasty.  I think these could be a winner.

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Well….there you have it.  All in all I can say that these are probably the best overall competition quality thighs I have ever cooked.  If I can get the smoker to cook consistently at these temps, the turn out should be even better with real smoke.  I’m glad I did this, because to avoid the mess – I used a pan the entire time.  Had I tried this on the smoker, I would have put them direclty on a grate.  I am 100% convinced that these things stewing in their own juices, rub and the broken down mayo was what made the meat taste so good.

The buttermilk marinade, mayo application and cook temps did something very magical to the skin.  You can see it in the pics above.  Every single piece of chicken turned out exactly the same.  My wife took a piece and with a fork cut off a piece of the thigh to eat…skin and all.  A fork!!!  Cooked low and slow – this is almost unbelievable…but true.

Give it a shot and post your results!

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