Chicken, along with pork ribs, pork shoulder and brisket make up the four categories of meats used in Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) competitions. Although chicken is the fastest to cook out of the four meats chicken take the most time to prepare. Competition chicken allows for 6 of the same pieces including drumsticks, breasts, wings, thighs or even whole chicken shredded.I have tried just about all the cuts and found bone in, skin on thighs to be the most consistent and where I have had the best results. The key to success with chicken is to provide a flawless presentation with a bite that delivers juicy intense flavor and provides memorable bite through skin for the judges. Although there are many methods of preparation here is what I like to do and if you are game for a challenge give this a try.
- 12 each Bone in skin on chicken thighs (try and get the sizes to be a close a possible)
- 8 oz Chicken Stock
- ¼ cup Kosmos Q Wood Fired Chicken Injection
- ¼ cup Motley Que Chicken Fixx
- 2 tbsp Big Poppa Smoker’s Happy Endings Finishing Rub
- 1 cup Flavored infused olive oil(olive oil infused with garlic, sage and thyme)
- 4 oz Honey (may substitute agave)
- ¼ cup Apple Juice
- 16 oz House of Q Competition 5 Star Sauce
- Step 1 Scraping the SkinRemove thighs from the fridge and pull off the skin being careful not to tear any holes. Lay the chicken skin on a cutting board with the outside of the skin board side. With a sharp knife ( I like a razor sharp boning or filet knife for this) holding at about a 20 degree angle gently scrape the fat off the skin. You will see the skin start to stretch. It is important to only remove the fat and not tear any holes in the skin.Once all the skins are scraped carefully arrange them on a sheet pan and place them in the fridge uncovered. Now take the thighs and turn them over to expose the thigh bone, using a heavy knife remove the end of the bone on each end. Remove any visible fat and now trim the thigh to a rectangular shape, keeping all the pieces as close in size as possible.Step 2: injecting or Marinating the chickenPrepare the injection by mixing the dry chicken injection mix with chicken stock. Using a syringe inject the thighs evenly, you will see them plump up. Once all thighs are injected place in a marinater or large zip lock bag, add the remaining injection mix and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.After 1 hour remove the skins from the fridge and lay them out skin side on the cutting board. Using a sharp knife trim the skins in a uniform rectangular shape leaving enough skin to be able to wrap back around the thighs. now is a good time to season the inside of the skin with a light coat of rub an set aside.Remove the thighs from the fridge and wipe the excess marinade off the thighs with paper towel. Season both sides of the thigh with rub, now fold the thigh back to original shape and apply the skin. Try and cover the entire thigh with the skin folding the loose skin under the thigh. A tip here is to use a square or rectangle muffin tin to help shape the thigh and keep the skin from falling off.
- Set Smoker to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.I like to use competition blend pellets but apple or hickory work well. Once at temperature place the chicken on the smoker while still in the muffin tin and based with the infused olive oil.Cook for approximately 30 minutes, this will give the chicken smoke and begin the cooking process. You can now prepare the sauce. Add the contents of one bottle of sauce to a pot add the honey and apple juice to the sauce and bring this up to a gentle boil. Keep warm until ready to sauce the chicken.After the thighs have been cooking for 30 minutes, remove from the muffin tin and place skin side down on the grill. Increase the temperature to 350 degrees and cook until you have an internal temperature of at least 150 degrees. Once at temperature remove the thighs from the smoker and prepare to sauce.
- Using a deep pot submerge the chicken in the sauce being careful not to get fingerprints on the top of the thigh and place on a rack, repeat for all the pieces and place the rack back on the smoker. Cook until the sauce sets and you have an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Once at temperature remove from the smoke and arrange on your serving dish. As a final touch evenly shake a light coating of Happy Endings finishing rub to the bottoms of the thighs.
When handling chicken make sure there is no cross contamination. Keep you cutting board and knives clean and make sure the chicken is refrigerated and and only bring out as many pieces as you need.