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Rack M Nation: Southern Thighs

I smoked up some competition style chicken thighs this week, so lets take a look!

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Competition style?

Yes! If you have been doing your own bbq thing for a while and you are thinking about maybe entering a friendly or not so friendly 'que competition, this is just the kind of chicken you'd be submitting. I took the now famous recipe/style of Myron Mixon (if you've ever watched a bbq show you've seen his smug unrelenting face on it) and turned it up a notch. as always does a great job breaking down competition style chicken here.

Getting started:

The recipe I started off with can be found here. As I said above, I switched things up a bit but we'll get into that in a bit. First thing we need to talk about are the tools you'll need for this. You should have a decent cutting board and sharp knife around somewhere (For smaller cuts like this I use a paring knife as its easier to control and get into small spots), along with an 13x9 baking pan and a baking sheet.You'll also need a pair of poultry shears, basting brush, and a Texsa cupcake pan with holes poked in the bottom of each cup.

Once you've got all your gear ready to go then set it all out together like so:


You've got your shears, your beers and your chicken, you're ready to light this firecracker.

Don't forget to light your smoker while you're at it, you want to be in the 275-300 degree range.

Once the coals are lit, you'll start trimming your thighs but cutting the inner knuckle off the bone:


After you snip that knuckle off you'll want to trim any fat from the bottom of the thigh and any skin that is in excess of 1/4 inch in over hang.

Now that we have a great looking batch of snipped and trimmed thighs, we need to season these suckers. I of course used Beef's Magic Rub.


The ingredients are:

1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt, finely ground
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons mustard powder
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
1/4 cup granulated garlic
2 tablespoons cayenne

Mix all ingredients and store in a tightly covered container. To make it a little more hot and spicy, increase the mustard powder and black pepper to 1/2 cup each

Makes about 2.5 cups

You can use whatever rub you like of course, but I have found that his one is just about the best for poultry.

Once you've got your rub all ready to go, hit them thighs up with it. Don't be stingy as these suckers need some flavor added to em and don't be afraid to get int there and rub it in.


Mmmmmmm, seasoned chicken is a beautiful sight. Now we are all ready to put these suckers in the pan and get to smokin!

You want to get your 13x9 pan out and pour about 3 cups of chicken broth in the bottom of it. I used a tad less but its what ever floats your boat. Make sure you have an older baking pan as stuff will get charred onto this suckers and it pretty much becomes a smoking only pan. once you've got the base pan ready, start putting your thighs into the cupcake cups one at a time skin side down, making sure that the skin comes all the way up and around on each side of the thigh. It should look something like this:


As you can see here, I've already got my cupcake pan inside the baking pan and it should rest comfortable on the lip around the pan, making sure that you aren't drowning your chicken in that broth.


We are now ready to add your thighs to the smoker and start infusing that delicious aroma into the meat.


Now you can just set it and forget it! Well, don't forget it, close your lid and keep it going at your optimal temp for 1 1/2 hours. After an hour and a half you just wanna take some tongs and flip your birds over so that they are skin side up in the cups and cook for another 45 minutes. If you are doing a home made sauce, you'll wanna start whipping that up right about meow, or if you're like me and just love you 1 or 12 brands of over the counter sauce, get a good basting amount and warm it over the stove so that you can thin it out a wee bit.

My sauce of choice this week is "Night of the Living Sauce" from newly renamed Joe's Kansas City:


After 45 minutes skin side up you wanna pull your cupcake pan and baking pan from the smoker. Grab your thighs from the cake cups and put them on your baking sheet. Baste each one with a light smothering of your sauce and return to the smoker for 30 minutes to crystallize your sauce.

Its right about this time that you'll wanna start prepping your presentation if you indeed at a competition, or if you're like me you'll wanna fry up some Ore-Ida Shoestring fries and season them of course with your favorite Fry Seasoning.

When you pull your birds they should be mostly evenly shaped, have a good brownish red hue going on and have that sauce nice and caramelized all around.


I did a pair of thighs in the oven and without a cupcake pan just so you can see the difference between the two and why the cupcake pan is so valuable at a competition style event.


That's all I've got for ya this week folks. What do you have planned for your cookout, watch party or Labor Day party?