Buffalo Thighs

What’s the only thing better than buffalo wings? Buffalo thighs, of course.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love a nice big pile of wings and a refreshing adult beverage, but if I’m looking for a more substantial and less messy dining experience (think supper time, not happy hour), thighs it is.

8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
1-2 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue rub (I used Dizzy Pig’s Swamp Venom)
1/2 cup Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Suck Creek Wings WFR Sauce (or any good ‘hotter’ hot sauce)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Lay the thighs out in a single layer on a sheet pan and dust them on both sides with the rub. Move them to the fridge and let them sit uncovered for at least 2 hours, overnight is best. Doing this not only to seasons the thighs but also dries the skin out a bit to keep it crispy.

Set your grill up for an indirect cook over medium-high  (400°F) heat. On the Big Green Egg I used the plate setter to diffuse the heat.

Combine the butter, hot sauces, Worcestershire, and garlic powder in a flame-proof melting pot and warm it on the grate just long enough to melt the butter. Set aside and keep warm (I set mine right up against the BGE).

Put the thighs on the grill skin side up. Close the lid and let them cook for 20 minutes. Flip them skin side down and let them go another 20 minutes.

Baste both sides with the hot sauce mixture, and cook for 10 minutes skin side down. Baste both sides one last time and cook for another 10 minutes skin side up.

Start checking the thighs for doneness. Chicken is safe when done to an internal temperature of 160°F, but the thighs will still be chewy at this point. I like to let them go to at least 180 to 200°F, depending on how crispy the skin is getting.

When the thighs are done, remove to a plate and let them rest for 10 minutes. Serve with bleu cheese sauce just like you would buffalo wings.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Between the Swamp Venom rub, the Frank’s, and the WFR sauce these babies had some nice heat, making the cooling dip more of a necessity than an option. Thighs are small and have lots of nooks and crannies, so the sauce really permeates the meat.

The skin was almost potato-chip crispy – lovely. I’ve heard different opinions on whether you should start chicken skin side down or skin side up to keep the skin crisp. The skin-side-down camp says that the fat runs down and collects next to the impermeable skin and fries it. The skin-side-up camp says that the moisture drains away from the skin, keeping it crisp.

Me? I don’t think that there is much difference either way. I believe the key is to let the chicken air-dry in the fridge for a bit first and then cook it at higher temps. 400°F seems to be perfect for indirect cooks. I still flip them over from time to time, but that’s mostly to make sure that they cook evenly.

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