Greasy Little Thighs

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This is a variation on Greasy Little Birds using skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs instead of Cornish game hens.  Having the skin on is important since it helps keep the thighs moist.

Here is the recipe and procedure:

 6 lbs. skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

1 qt. apple juice

½ cup sugar

½ cup salt

1 Tbs. dried rosemary leaves

1 Tbs. dried basil

2 gallon ziplock baggies

 The night before, divide the thighs between the two ziplock baggies.  Add to each baggie one half of the dry ingredients and then one half of the apple juice.  Seal the bags pressing out all the air and flip and massage them to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Put the baggies on a pan or tray in case there are drips, and put them in a refrigerator overnight.  From time to time, flip the baggies so that the thighs are evenly brining.

The next day, remove the thighs from the brine, rinse them off, pat them dry with paper towels and put them on a rack in front of a small fan or under a ceiling fan for about 20 minutes until the skin is dry to the touch and a bit tacky.  Having a dry skin helps prevent soot particles from settling on the thighs when they smoke.

Smoke the thighs in an electric box smoker using apple wood at 195 degrees for about 2 hours. 

After the thighs have been smoked, finish them on a grill.   The hot flame will nicely caramelize and crisp up the skin of the thighs, but because there is a lot of sugar in the brine, it is important not to overdo it and burn them.  Then serve and enjoy.

 If there are left overs, the thighs are just as good (maybe even better) eaten cold, and the meat from the  thighs also makes the world’s best Waldorf salad with diced apples, onion, walnuts and mayonnaise on a bed of lettuce.


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