Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

June 18, 2012

BBQ: Grilled chicken thighs


CNHI

— This week's installment is another dish which can be prepared on both charcoal and gas. (You are

welcome gas grillers. I am losing some serious BBQ street cred by talking gas.) It is delicious, classy,

easy...oh yeah...and affordable.

On the competitive BBQ circuit, there are four categories. Pulled pork, brisket, ribs and chicken. In

the early days of the circuit the cut of choice for chicken was the breast, which most people consider the premium piece of the versatile yard bird. But, competitive BBQ combatants became frustrated with the breast. The window of grilling perfection was slim. Either it ended up undercooked and dangerous, or dry and leathery.

They have since moved onto the thigh, which in my humble opinion is the best yard bird cut. It is dark meat, very moist and has great depth of flavor. Just as important, it is typically more affordably priced than the overrated chicken breast.

This stuffed chicken thigh is complimented with a delicious tomato vinaigrette. The timing of this recipe is perfect, as locally grown summer tomatoes are starting to show up at the local farm markets.

This recipe works well for 7 or 8 chicken thighs.

Tomato Vinaigrette

• 1 ½ lbs tomatoes – cut into bit sized pieces

• 1/3 cup olive oil

• handful of fresh chives

• juice and finely grated rind of 1 lime

• salt and pepper to taste

In your food processor, process the oil and chives until smooth and bright green. Pour into a nonmetal

bowl and add the tomatoes, lime, salt and pepper to taste. Lightly stir and place in the fridge.

Pesto ricotta stuffing

• ½ cup ricotta cheese

• 2 to 3 Tbs pesto (make your own pesto or buy it in the store)

Spread the thighs out on a cutting board so they are flat. Since they are deboned, they should lay out like a canvass. If you want the chicken thinner and more consistent, place wax paper over them and beat them thinner with a rolling pin. Sounds barbaric, but it works.

Place a tablespoon or so of the ricotta stuffing in the middle of the thigh. Roll up the thigh and use toothpicks to secure the middle and the two ends. Do not try to use the cheap toothpicks, as they will snap like balsa wood. To see how to properly use the toothpicks to fasten everything up, go to

YouTube.com/BBQMyWay and search for “thighs.”

Lightly coat the thighs with olive oil, salt and coarsely cracked pepper. Grill on indirect heat for 15 minutes. Finish over direct heat to add texture and color. The internal temperature of the thighs should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Serve the thighs over a bed of fresh spinach and smother with the tomato vinaigrette. Oh, and don't forget to remove the toothpicks.

I like a crisp white wine with this dish, or a pilsner beer. Iced tea and colas work well too. Thanks for stopping by!

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Dave Lobeck is a barbecue chef from Sellersburg, Ind., who writes a column for CNHI News Service. Visit his website at www.BBQMyWay.com.