I love BBQ to me there is nothing peaceful than staring at a smoker chugging away undisturbed while magical and beautiful things happen under the hood. The entire neighborhood is full of the magical aroma of flavorful wood burning away.
This recipe was one I used a couple years ago in BBQ competitions and actually is still very highly requested when people find out the smoker is getting fired up.
The first thing you want to do is create the brine (say “the brine” in your best superfans impersonation guaranteed to bring a smile to your face) for the chicken thighs.
To you those who like the scientific explanation here is what Wikipedia has to say about brining:
“Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked, via the process of denaturation. The brine surrounding the cells has a higher concentration of salt than the fluid within the cells, but the cell fluid has a higher concentration of other solutes. This leads salt ions to enter the cell via diffusion. The increased salinity of the cell fluid causes the cell to absorb water from the brine via osmosis. The salt introduced into the cell also denatures its proteins. The proteins coagulate, forming a matrix which traps water molecules and holds them during cooking. This prevents the meat from drying out, or dehydrating.”
To those who like the dumb down explanation here is the Jeff reason:
“Brining is basically water with a lot of salt that makes meat very moist and tender.” I also always like to follow this with a Beavis laugh and the word fire in my best Butt-Head impersonation.
At a basic level we could just submerge the chicken thighs in a combination of salt and water but really what is the fun in that? Since the chicken thighs will be sitting in the brine for a good 8-24 hours this would be a great chance to add a lot of amazing flavors and help flavor the meat.
For the brine you will need:
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups orange juice
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
In a medium stockpot bring the vegetable stock, 2 cups of water, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, and bay leaves to a boil. Maintain a boil till all the salt and brown sugar has been dissolved.
Once the brown sugar and salt have been dissolved shut off the heat and add in the remaining ingredients.
Put the mixture in the fridge overnight to let it cool down. For the impatient people than setup an ice bath (an ice bath is basically taking a bowl larger than your stockpot and filling it with ice and putting the stockpot in that bowl). Once the liquid is cool add in the chicken thighs and let them sit for 8-24 hours.
Now is the perfect time to make the dry rub.
For the dry rub you will need:
- 1 TB Kosher salt
- 1 TB black pepper
- 1 TB dried basil
- 1 TB dried oregano
- 1 TB dried thyme
- 1 TB dried bay leaf
- 1 TB dried rosemary
- 1 TB dried marjoram
- 1 TB dried savory
- 1 TB garlic powder
Throw everything in a container (I like to use a clean cottage cheese container or a mason jar) and shake to combine.
Remove the chicken from the brine and discard the brine. Wash the chicken off and pat them dry (this will take a lot more paper towels than you ever could imagine). Once they are dry toss them with the dry rub to coat.
For those who have a smoker get it to 225 (if you don’t have a smoker just use your oven pre-heated to 225 degrees or very low grill heat).
Let this cook till the chicken registers 160 at the thickest part (about 1-1.5 hours). The wonderful thing about slow cooking chicken is that the skin basically turns to rubber so to remedy this bring the chicken under direct heat for a couple of minutes. I like to use my gas grill for this since it is quick and readily available.
I don’t believe good BBQ ever needs some fancy serving presentation. It should be served plainly in a large quantity so people can greedily grab whatever they want.