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Grilled Chicken Thighs: Kansas City BBQ Style!

Updated on August 8, 2010

BARBECUE CHICKEN THIGHS IN KANSAS CITY!

Kansas City is a treasure trove for the Barbecue or grilling fanatic; and this bbq grilled chicken recipe is guaranteed to deliver!

I know other cities "claim" to be the low and slow capital of the U.S. but the best Barbecue in America is safely tucked into the heartland of the plains: Kansas City, Missouri. -- (Casey MO for us locals)

But enough of my chamber of commerce ranting.

This is a really simple way to prepare and enjoy one of the most flavorful cuts of chicken: THE THIGH.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT DOESN'T LAST LONG!
THE FINISHED PRODUCT DOESN'T LAST LONG!

WHY THE THIGH?

 

WHY NOT?

When you think of bbq grilled chicken recipes, I'm sure the thigh isn't your first cut of choice. Am I right?

More often than not, the chicken is represented on most barbecue menus with breasts, wings, or drumettes. The thigh is often an afterthought.

This is why I like them. After all, without the thigh, how would the breast attach to the leg?

STEP ONE: APPLYING THE OLIVE OIL
STEP ONE: APPLYING THE OLIVE OIL
THE LINEUP. YOURS CAN BE DIFFERENT IF YOU LIKE.
THE LINEUP. YOURS CAN BE DIFFERENT IF YOU LIKE.
AFTER THE SPICES, YOU'RE READY TO GRILL!
AFTER THE SPICES, YOU'RE READY TO GRILL!

PREPARING THE THIGHS

After the meat has properly thawed, coat it with a generous amount of olive oil. I use the extra light variety (for baking or sauteeing) since the flavor is still there but not overly dominant.

Olive oil is a primary player in our thigh grilling adventure and has two roles.

After coating the chicken with oil, it's time for the spices. I have a distinct combination but this doesn't mean you can't come up with your own. My list includes:

* Cavender's Greek Seasoning (An American favorite). Far right in the photo. Notice my mother's special packaging.

* Garlic Powder.

* Pepper (or lemon pepper).

* Your favorite BBQ dryrub of choice (Memphis' own Corky's is pictured).

I usually add them separately. But you can combine all at once if you'd like.

Either way is fine.

ARRANGE THE CHARCOAL IN THE CENTER OF THE GRILL
ARRANGE THE CHARCOAL IN THE CENTER OF THE GRILL
JUST ABOUT READY! :)
JUST ABOUT READY! :)

OILING THE GRILL

THE INITIAL OLIVE OIL BASTING
THE INITIAL OLIVE OIL BASTING
THE SECOND COAT OF OIL
THE SECOND COAT OF OIL

THE FIRE

I know. Some people swear by charcoal. Some gas. I've always used charcoal so if it ain't broke... I leave it alone.

To me the brand doesn't matter. As long as it lights, glows, and produces heat it's all good!

Very important! Allow the coals to be glowing white before putting any meat on the grill. If you allow the meat to warm up with the coals, some of the intial sear is lost.

Here's another important point! Only put the coals in the center of your firebox, pit, or kettle. They are merely a heat source. The actual cooking will be slightly indirect. Remember, the key to any good barbeque is the temperature. If cooking temps go too high, the meat will cook too quickly and lose many of its valuable moisture and subsequent flavor. As many of my "smokin" friends tell me: "Don't spoil a good bbq grilled chicken recipe by cooking it too fast/hot." That is good advice!

THE GRILL

 

Here's where our olive oil begins act two of its journey.

Coat the grill with a generous slathering of olive oil prior to cooking. To do so, you'll have to take it off the cooker and keep it aside. Fairly simple.

After the fire is good and hot, place the grill in place and give it another solid basting. Then let it warm for about 3-5-minutes. By allowing the oil to heat up, the chicken will partially sear; sealing in valuable juices and flavor. Yummy!

THIGHS PLACED AROUND THE GRILL'S PERIMETER. TIME ELAPSED ABOUT 10 MINUTES
THIGHS PLACED AROUND THE GRILL'S PERIMETER. TIME ELAPSED ABOUT 10 MINUTES

THE PLACEMENT OF THE THIGHS

 

This is extemely important. DO NOT PLACE THE MEAT OVER THE CENTER OF THE GRILL! Place the thighs around the grill's perimeter away from the direct heat. You want the indirect heat to do most of the work. Cooking the chicken slow, along with the oil, will seal in the juices!

 

 

COOKING TIME ABOUT 15 MINUTES
COOKING TIME ABOUT 15 MINUTES
COOKING TIME AROUND 20 MINUTES: TIME TO TURN
COOKING TIME AROUND 20 MINUTES: TIME TO TURN

COOKIN' TIME

Depending on the size of the thighs, cooking time is usually around 25-35 minutes.

I monitor the chicken about every 10 minutes to see how fast they're cooking. Usually after about 15 minutes I'll turn them; but only if the underside is firm to the touch.

IMPORTANT TIP: DO NOT POKE INTO THE MEAT TO CHECK FOR JUICES. THIS WILL ONLY ALLOW SOME OF THE FLAVOR TO LEAVE.

I can tell how well cooked the meat is by simply applying a little pressure without penetrating it. This is learned through practice. You'll learn it too.

I can only explain so much about cooking time in this hub. Experience is the best way to learn. Just cook, cook, and cook some more. You'll get it quick!

THE UNDERSIDE SAUCED!
THE UNDERSIDE SAUCED!
THE THIGHS THE LIMIT!
THE THIGHS THE LIMIT!
ONE OF MY FAVORITE'S WITH RICE VINEGAR TO BOOT
ONE OF MY FAVORITE'S WITH RICE VINEGAR TO BOOT

BBQ GRILLED CHICKEN: THE FINISHING TOUCHES!

After both sides have thoroughly cooked, it's time for the sauce.

BE CHOOSY

Choosing a barbecue sauce can be a very personal thing. I really don't have an end-all favorite. And I've tried a lot. For a generous sampling you can check out the links in this hub.

What I have found is that most people have a preference in 3 categories:

Spiciness, Sweetness, and Acidity.

Do your own sampling. That's most of the fun anyway.

I drift toward the milder and acidic sauces. This is why I add small amounts of rice vinegar to my sauce of the day.

Add a little. Taste. Add a little. Taste...

FINAL IMPORTANT TIP: ADD YOUR SAUCE DURING THE FINAL 1-3 MINUTES OF COOKING!

Do the underside first and allow to warm for about 1 minute. Then do the top side and allow to warm for another minute or two.

And that's about it!

Take the thighs off the grill and serve!

Unless you're not fogging the mirror in the morning, I guarantee you're going back for seconds, if not thirds!

ENJOY!

Comments

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    • Valene profile image

      Valene 3 years ago from Missouri

      I live in KCMO as well and LOVE our BBQ. I agree that the chicken thigh is a much overlooked choice cut of meat...so flavorful!

    • profile image

      MilesB 6 years ago

      Gonna try this tomorrow, I got online looking for a how-to for thighs and this looks like the ticket. Will let you know.

    • philipandrews188 profile image

      philipandrews188 6 years ago

      Amazing hub! I love the recipe! Very good hub!

    • profile image

      T.G. 6 years ago

      Hey! I know this was posted up a long time ago, but I just have to say- your advice on recipe and technique is still helping people :)

      I'm mostly a newbie on the grill, I've done a few burgers and other bbqs as most people have but never really had a technique or knew what I was doing. I found your post here though just before a family BBQ for my son's 1st birthday, and I thought I'd give it a shot. This was my first time ever trying indirect heat and going for a slower cook..I figured it would turn out ok at best and be a learning experience for next time.

      But everything went perfectly and the thighs turned out GREAT! Everyone in my family was commenting on how good they were and that I need to BBQ for the family more often! I was definitely a success, especially for my first time :)

      I did a 3/4 cup kosher salt, 3/4 cup brown sugar brine and put them in there for about an hour in the morning. Also tried using some applewood chips. For everything else I just followed these directions. Used a stubbs bbq rub and sweet baby ray's honey bbq for the sauce.

      I think I'm hooked! Summer up here in WA has been terrible with very few sunny days. I'm hoping for more soon so I can keep practicing. Thanks!

    • jamesmspacey profile image

      jamesmspacey 7 years ago from Hobart, Australia

      OH yeah. I know what's for dinner tonight!

    • profile image

      basmatikid 7 years ago

      oops just saw that you already answered if you cook uncovered or not. very nice description of the cooking process. i have tried using the indirect method but with the charcoal on one side of the grill and a drop pan on the other. i'm gonna try piling them in the center next time to see of there's a diff. thanks again!

    • profile image

      basmatikid 7 years ago

      you don't mention if you covered your grill. do you cover or leave uncovered during cooking?

    • Rob Jundt profile image
      Author

      Rob Jundt 7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks everyone for the nice comments. Now that the weather has once again warmed, it's time for grilling. These are very yummy. Remember, though, these are bone-in thighs. Pass the plate!

    • profile image

      Maria 7 years ago

      Thank you so much for this recipe!!! I'm grilling chicken thighs for the first time ever, and I was a little nervous/worried about how to go about it! You really simplified things, and I love, love, love the pictures! Big help. :-)

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 7 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Love the easy recipe. God Bless You

    • profile image

      Anthony James Barnett - author 8 years ago

      My mouth is watering already. I shall have to try it. I'm a great lover of chicken thighs - I've always maintained they're the tastiest part of the chicken.

    • profile image

      jason 8 years ago

      Are these boneless or bone-in? I have boneless and was wondering about the indirect method for these. I plan to do about 12 of them on a big Weber kettle grill. Thanks.

    • Rob Jundt profile image
      Author

      Rob Jundt 8 years ago from Midwest USA

      Chris: Awesome! I'm glad everything turned out fine. I know from my experience that I've burned a few! You'll be fine. And now that you have the process down, feel free to use other spices. It's all GOOD!

      CaNIGeTaNyMoreloS: Let me know how things (and thighs) go :)

    • CaNiGeTaNyMoReLoS profile image

      CaNiGeTaNyMoReLoS 8 years ago from Largo FL

      Will definitley be giving that another shot for sure :)

    • profile image

      Chris 8 years ago

      Rob, even though I messed up with too much heat they actually turned out pretty awesome. I just had allot of work moving them from the fire until it cooled down some. I was using a small weber grill and I think I had too many coals also. I also wasn't sure on covering or not so I left it uncovered too a little longer to cook through but they were awesome. I learned allot from that experience and want to thank you for encouraging me to even try grilling thighs. I love that piece of chicken and its nice to do something other than baking them. I bet my next attempt will be perfection. Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Rob Jundt profile image
      Author

      Rob Jundt 8 years ago from Midwest USA

      Chris:

      Thanks for stopping by! First, I don't cook them uncovered. That was just to show how to arrange the grill and the chicken. Always cover the grill and vent from the top.

      Second, if you're getting flame up from the oil and fat, then your fire is too hot and/or your chicken is too close to the coals. I would try to use fewer coals and make sure the thighs are near the edge of the grill away from the direct heat. If you try to cook too many, you may find it more difficult. A good number for my small grill is 6-10 thighs. Hope this helps. Please feel free to ask questions at any time. These are a family favorite. Over the holiday, I cooked 22 of them. Yummy!

    • profile image

      Chris 8 years ago

      Well I followed directions but man I had a firey mess the fat from the thighs engulfed the grill in flames. I'm not sure if I had too much charcoal or heat but wow I was constantly moving the thighs out of the fire. I will let you know how they turn out for me.

    • profile image

      Chris 8 years ago

      Hey bud do you cook those uncovered?

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      My family loves BBQ. I'll have to try this one - especially in the spring when we can get near the snow-covered grill :)

    • profile image

      dafla 9 years ago

      Not really crazy about thighs cooked any way but bbq'd. I learned long ago that the longer and slower you cook them, until they are just falling apart, the better they are. They are the one piece of chicken that will not eat any other way.

    • dayzeebee profile image

      dayzeebee 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      i'm learning here...soon i'll make one myself and maybe make a hub about my own specialty...thanks for sharing...

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      This looks yummy. :) Chicken is one of my favorite food. heheh thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • solarshingles profile image

      solarshingles 9 years ago from london

      Rob, you've managed to make me very hungry, even though there is some more time to my next meal. I like your passion for BBQing...

    • Rob Jundt profile image
      Author

      Rob Jundt 9 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks for all the kind words. Trust me when you start cooking the chicken like this, the fried stuff doesn't do them justice. I'll try to post other food hubs as I have time.

    • C.S.Alexis profile image

      C.S.Alexis 9 years ago from NW Indiana

      This kind of writing makes some CHIKS nervous if you know what I mean? SKIN E. is shakin in her shoes. But in truth KC styled barbecue is one of my favorites and I will try your way soon. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 9 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Rob, this looks incredible. I might be giving it a try at my next BBQ. And I agree that the step-by-step photos are a nice touch. Very professional.

    • jonixk profile image

      jonixk 9 years ago from Lisbon

      Great recipe this one! This really make me hungry :)The step by step with photos are very cool, thanks for sharing it with us.