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 trust you all had a safe and wonderful 4th of July! I know we certainly did, especially since Indiana is extremely liberal when it comes to firework laws. You could literally spin around in circles in my backyard and see one of the most spectacular fireworks displays ever. All of my neighbors are crazy pyros and I absolutely love it! The only problem is now next year I am going to have to go out and buy a crap ton of fireworks to keep up with the neighborhood.
We also had an awesome Friday night (3rd of July). My wife ended up looking at the Ft. Wayne events calendar to discover that the Ft. Wayne Philharmonic was performing their annual Patriotic Pops concert at Parkview Field (Our Minor league baseball stadium). The weather was absolutely perfect for an outdoor concert and watch some fireworks. We are definitely planning on making that a tradition that we will go to every year!
I finally got to break in my new Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill. I didn't do anything off the wall crazy since I am still trying to learn my way around my first charcoal grill, so we just ended up making some good ole burgers and dogs! But, of course the chef inside of me had do something a little fun. So I ended up making this absolutely delicious Caramelized Onion and Sausage Chili sauce to put on the hot dogs. Man-O-man was it a tasty chili sauce...had a little bit of sweetness from the honey and the perfect amount of heat from the hot sausage and jalapenos. Not only did it taste really good on hot dogs, but it also tasted really good on the burgers! So far my grill is performing fantastic, not really surprised since Weber is probably the leader in the grill market. What I love about this charcoal grill though is that it has an propane ignition system to get the charcoal burning. So, you don't have to use any toxic lighter fluid that can leave a funky taste on food and you don't have to buy a separate chimney to get your coals started. The chimneys are nice, but it's also a little intimidating handling a tin canister full of ripping hot coals and dumping them into a grill. Be sure to give this chili sauce a try, I know for sure this will be a staple for now on for my barbecues!
Caramelized Onion and Sausage Chili Sauce
Prep time: 30 min | Cook time: 30 min | Total time: 1 hr | Yield: Serves 10
- 1 lb. hot sausage, out of casing
- 3 large onions, sliced
- 2 12 oz. bottles of Chili sauce
- 1 large red pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Heat a dutch oven over direct heat on a charcoal grill. Once heated, add about a tablespoon of neutral cooking oil. When the oil is shimmering, add in the sliced onion. Stir onions to evenly coat in oil. Cook onions, stirring regularly, until golden brown. About 5 min
- Deglaze the pan with some sort of liquid (I used the beer I was drinking). Then add in the sausage and cook, stirring occasional until browned. About 5 more min
- After the sausage has browned, add in the red pepper and jalapeno. Cook, stirring occasionally, until both peppers are slightly softened.
- Add in the chili sauce, honey, hot sauce, and black pepper. Stir to incorporate and let cook for another 15 min or until sauce has reduced and thickened. Spoon sauce over your favorite hot dog or anything else you feel it would be good on.