The weather last week was absolutely incredible for mid-February in Northeast Indiana. Mid-upper 60s all week and I took advantage of it in a big way! I cleaned my Weber Performer Deluxe, got a couple bags of charcoal, some propane canisters, and grilled out pretty much every night of the week....it was GLORIOUS!! Saturday I ended up smoking a rack of spare ribs for the first time in shorts and a t-shirt while sippin' on a Yeungling...IN FEBRUARY!! The spare ribs turned out alright, but I wasn't quite happy with them enough to share them quite yet....so I am going to continue working on the recipe and hopefully will have that to you soon. Of course, now we are back to normal February weather...blah! So, my smoking experiments may have to wait, unless I am feeling bold.
But, one thing that I was VERY happy with were these Cajun BBQ Chicken thighs. The one reason I absolutely love chicken thighs is because they are soooo much cheaper than chicken breasts. For typically half the price I can get 4 chicken thighs, but they don't seem to be all that popular. I believe the reason why is because they are a little intimidating to the average home cook. But, I promise you, there isn't anything to be scared of! Two things you want to make sure of is 1) Getting the skin nice and crispy and 2) Obtaining a temperature of 175F. The reason why we want a higher temperature compared to chicken breast (165F) is because chicken thighs contain a lot more connective tissue so they can withstand a lot higher heat than the breast. But, if you don't cook them to a higher temperature you typically get a chewy mess because that connective tissue hasn't broken down. You know what the best way to achieve this temperature? Get your butt over to Thermoworks and pick yourself up an Thermapen MK4. You want to talk about a useful piece of cooking equipment, they are totally worth the money and would make a perfect gift for a cook in your family. Easy to use, accurate, durable; you can't beat them! Now onto the recipe!
Cajun BBQ Chicken Thighs
Prep time: 10m | Cook time: 30min | Total time: 40min | Yield: 4 servings
- 6 Tbsp paprika
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp ground white pepper
- 2 Tbsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp onion powder
- 1 Tbsp dried thyme
- 1 Tbsp cayenne
- 4 chicken thighs
- Barbeque Sauce, as needed
- Mix the first 8 ingredients together and store in an container. This is a standard cajun seasoning that can be used on a number of different things.
- Season the tops and bottoms of the chicken thighs generously with the cajun seasoning. I prefer to let them sit overnight in this seasoning, but you can use them immediately if you don't have the time.
- Heat grill, either charcoal or gas, so that there is a direct heat side and an indirect side. Whenever the grill is hot, place the chicken thighs, skin side down, on the direct heat side. Grill for 4 minutes and then rotate 90 degress and grill for another 4 minutes until skin is crispy. Watch for flare ups during this period and make sure the skin doesn't burn.
- Once skin is crispy transfer the chicken to the indirect side, skin side up, cover and continue cooking. Once you reach an internal temperature of about 160F, go ahead and apply some barbeque sauce on the tops. Cover and continue to cook until you reach an internal temperature of 170F.
- Remove from grill and let rest for 5 min, the cooking processing should continue during this rest period and get you to exactly 175F. Grab some napkins and dig in!
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I tell you what, I think I have settled on my most favorite way to cook a cheeseburger. I've tried it all, grilled, sous vide, fried, forming patties by press, forming patties by hand...But, the one that I feel trumps it all, is the smash burger. Why?
- I get a fantastic crust (maillard reaction) on the outside of the burger. Grilling, while not a bad cooking method, tends to flare up and sometimes you get overcooked/burnt spots if you aren't extremely careful. "But, Eric, I want to cook my burgers on my grill!" Look at my picture! I used my Baking Steel as a griddle on my grill (Baking Steel even has a griddle version), added a few chunks of cherry wood to give it a smokey flavor, and I got a fantastic grill flavor. What a lot of people don't realize about grilling is the reason why you get the char flavor from grilling is because fat drips onto the hot coals or flavorizer bars, burns and smokes. That's where that grilled flavor comes from. So how do we get that flavor if the food isn't on the grill grates? Just spray some fat onto the coals or flavorizer bars and BOOM you get smokey goodness. In this case I used some wood, worked great and I got a smoke flavor.
- My burgers don't turn into giant, awkward, meatballs. I know, you're supposed to add a dimple to your burger patty to counteract the meatball effect. My problem adding the dimple is, what does that do your doneness? You have even thickness everywhere else, except for the center, wouldn't you imagine that the center would overcook? Smash burgers I start out as basically meatballs, get a crust on both sides and smash it down. Ever since I started doing this, I have never had a burger meatball back up. They stay in patty form!
- You don't over work the meat. People tend to add a bunch of stuff to their ground beef, mix it up, portion out the patties, form the patties. By the end, the strains of ground beef are compressed, and can lead to a dense burger. The smash burger, yes you roll into a ball, but the inside stays nice and lose, leaving to a very juicy and flavorful burger. Then, on top of that, since we get a beautiful crust on the burger from the griddle, we get a burger that doesn't fall apart. You bite into the crust and get a very juicy and flavorful burger, rather than one that may be dense, dry, and falling apart.
Gently form portioned ground beef into balls. Don't over work them, just press them enough to form them. These are 1/2 Lbs burgers, you can use this technique with whatever size burger you want, I made sliders this way as well! Season with salt and pepper on the tops.
After preheating your Baking Steel, Griddle, or Saute pan over medium high heat. Put the season side down on to the grill. Then season the other side with salt and pepper. Let it sear for a minute or two. (I also put a couple slices of onion onto the griddle, caramelized onions are the Bee's Knees!
Using a pair of tongs, flip meatballs over and sear the other side for a few minutes until crust is formed.
With a metal spatula, smash burger down into a patty. Once one side is fully seared, flip and completely sear the other side. Cook to your desired doneness and make sure to check the temp with a Thermapen Mk4. Top with cheese (if you wish) and serve!
One of my favorite kitchen tools and an essential tool in the kitchen is a Thermapen. If you are looking for a highly accurate, fast, and sturdy thermometer for the kitchen. This is the one you want!
Other recipes you may enjoy...
Settler Beans, Calico Beans, Cowboy Beans, Hobo Beans, Bean Beans the magical fruit the more you eat the more you....You get the idea...As much as I want to take credit for this recipe, I can't, it is one that my Mother gave to me that I imagine she acquired over the years. Who's Wilma? no idea...but boy can she make a mean batch of beans!
Now if you are looking for a healthy side dish, please just hit the back arrow in the top left corner (if you are using Chrome) because you have definitely made a wrong turn. This is one of the comfort foods that you make a huge batch of for a family get together, then everybody raves about them afterwards and ask for the recipe. My idea of the perfect venue for these beans is 4th of July, Memorial Day, or Tailgates.
Of course I wasn't doing any of those things, we had a baptism! Which is pretty much on the complete opposite side of the party spectrum for those events. But, hey, it was a family get together, the weather was beautiful, and we had a great little barbecue with family to celebrate the occasion. It's also worth noting that this recipe is EXTREMELY simple, makes a ton, and is just perfect for a party!
Wilmas Old Settler Beans
Prep time: 30m | Cook time: 3hrs+ | Total time: 3.5hrs+ | Yield: 8-12 servings
- 1 lbs ground beef
- 1 lbs chopped bacon
- 2 small onion, diced
- 2 cans dark kidney beans, drained
- 2 cans pork and beans
- 2 cans butter beans, drained
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1/4 cup molasses
- Add the diced bacon to a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon, reserve bacon fat for another use. In the same pan, brown the ground beef and diced onion.
- Add all the ingredients to a slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook on low for at least 3 hours, stirring on oaccasion. Serve immediately or keep on warm.