These smoked chicken thighs are juicy, tender and loaded with flavor. The blood orange glaze adds a sweet and spicy kick that everyone will love.
Since this is just a backyard recipe we don’t need to do anything crazy when it comes to prepping the chicken thighs. When I compete in KCBS competitions it is a painstaking meticulous process involving a number of steps. Just look for any bone fragments or cartilage that may have been missed by the butcher. I also like to take off any big pieces of fat that are hanging over the thighs. Flatten out the thighs and square them up so they cook as evenly as possible.
After the thighs have been trimmed let them sit in the fridge uncovered for at least a few hours to dry out the skin. This will help the skin crisp up when it cooks. About 30 minutes before I am going to cook I will take the thighs out of the fridge and season them generously on both sides with a bbq dry rub of your choosing. I have been using the Yardbird dry rub from plowboys bbq for my chicken both in competition and at home.
Pellet grills are my favorite way to smoke meat at home. You don’t have to tend to a fire or constantly add fuel. I personally have a RT-700 pellet grill from Rectec. It’s not only a great looking grill but it has great temperature control and can be monitored or adjusted from anywhere using the app connected to WiFi.
Chicken thighs absorb smoke quickly and are a much smaller cut than briskets or pork shoulders allowing you to cook at. Higher temperature. This will give you much crispier skin than if you were to smoke at a lower temperature. Another trick to getting crispy skin is to spray the chicken thighs with Avocado oil pan spray every 30 minutes during the cooking process. It's a little more expensive but avocado oil is much cleaner and has a smoke point above 500 degrees F.
Blood oranges have been available in my imperfect foods box lately so I’ve been taking advantage of using the beautiful citrus fruit. Traditionally blood oranges are used in mostly Mediterranean cuisine but I find it also lends itself well to Asian recipes. The flavor of blood oranges has notes of raspberry combined with a sweet & slightly sour finish. The combination of Orange Blossom honey and Blue Agave Sriracha from Yellowbird balances out the tangy bite of the blood orange. It also gives the glaze a glossy Lacquered finish when brushed on the chicken thighs.
Poultry should always be cooked to at least 160 degrees F. to prevent salmonella and other food borne illness. That being said I prefer to cook my dark meat longer to around 185-190 degrees F. Dark meat has a higher fat content and will remain juicy even when cooked to a higher internal temperature. Cooking to 185 degrees F. will also give you that fall off the bone tenderness that I prefer from dark meat. I use the same rules when smoking chicken wings. When preparing chicken breast I only cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. otherwise it drys out very quickly. The probes that come with most pellet grills are ok but I always compare with an instant read thermometer. They're also the best way to check for tenderness when probing larger cuts like brisket.