Competition Chicken Thighs

Competition Chicken Thighs Recipe

Competition Chicken Thighs Recipe

If you’re looking to improve your competition chicken thigh scores in KCBS, then you’ll want to check out this video. I brought in Eric Lee from Fire Dancer BBQ to show us his technique for producing a proven, “180” winning chicken entry. Eric has 19 first places calls for KCBS Chicken – and right now is ranked 18th in world in Chicken…. so of course I wanted to learn his method… Eric cooks fresh, air-chilled chicken thighs (16 total) for a typical KCBS contest. He looks for thighs that are the same uniform size so they’ll cook at the same rate. Brands like Bell & Evans, Smart Chicken, and Springer Mountain Farms are a few that he’s had success with in KCBS. He buys them by the case to ensure freshness and sorts through them individually by weight. Competition Chicken Thighs Once he has the 16 individual pieces, it’s time to trim. Here most people (me included) spend a couple hours on the chicken trim, but Eric has found that less is more when it comes to trimming chicken. “You want the chicken to look like chicken”, says Eric. Trimming it down too much or taking too much meat off the bone takes away from the entry. Eric squares each thigh by removing the “oyster meat” and a little off the sides where there’s always a little fat pocket. He also locates any vein or tendon that may be protruding on the meat side and gets rid of it along with the cartridge pocket at the end of the bone. It only takes a minute per thigh and he makes it look too easy. Competition Chicken Thighs The thighs are then ready for the contest. He repackaging the thighs in trays, wraps in plastic wrap, and keeps them on ice until he’s ready to work them at the contest. Competition Chicken Thighs At 4:00am on Saturday at a typical contest he lights his Jambo Pit and gets the chicken out of the cooler. Each piece is placed skin down in a half size aluminum pan and seasoned on the back (meat) side with Fire Dance Chicken Rub. The pans go back on ice for 4 hours while he cooks the big meats. Competition Chicken Thighs At 8:00am the thighs come out of the cooler, and each is injected with Butcher’s Original Bird Booster then place skin side up in the pan. The tops are seasoned with more Fire Dance Chicken Rub – and the pans sit on the counter until time to go on the pit. Competition Chicken Thighs His Jambo is running about 310 degrees at this point and he places a piece of wood on the hot coals. In comps he runs Peach but at my house we used Hickory. The chicken pans go on the far left side of the Jambo (closest to the exhaust) and are left alone for 30 minutes. Eric stresses this part of his process is crucial. He doesn’t want anyone opening the pit while the chicken is cooking. After 30 minutes he tops each thigh with a pat of margarine and places a lid over the pan. The chicken cooks for another 90 minutes and it’s time to glaze. There’s no checking internal temp or messing with the pit. It’s all time and temperature. Competition Chicken Thighs The chicken is fully cooked at this point (I’m guessing somewhere around 200 degrees internal), and all it needs is a glaze. Eric didn’t share his exact sauce recipe but he hinted that everyone should know what it is. I’m fairly confident it was a mixture of Blues Hog Original and Blues Hog Tennessee Red. He did say that it wasn’t 50/50, but I don’t think you could go wrong with any sweet sauce cut with a vinegar sauce. Competition Chicken Thighs The sauce is heated just a few minutes and each thigh is dunked and placed on a wire cooling rack over on the hotter side of the pit. He lets them glaze for 10 minutes and then it’s time to put the chicken in the turn-in container. Competition Chicken Thighs I asked Eric if he ever tastes the chicken before he turns it in and he said never. “If you stick to this method, it’ll turn out great every time”. He gets away with not scrapping the skin because he’s cooking the chicken at a higher temp and he covers it for 90 minutes. This process renders the fat and produces bite-through skin every time. I’m going to have to adopt his technique and see if I can beat him at a contest soon! The thighs were tender and packed with moisture. The flavor was balanced, and you could pick up on the savory and sweet notes without it being too much of one flavor. I think the Hickory added the right amount of smoke flavor but I will be trying Peach just as soon as I can source some. Competition Chicken Thighs Thanks to Eric Lee from Fire Dancer BBQ! Malcom Reed Connect on Facebook Follow me on Twitter Subscribe to my YouTube Channel Follow me on Instagram Buy Killer Hogs Products Here Competition Chicken Thighs

Have a Question About This Recipe?

Connect with us in our HowToBBQRight Facebook group for recipe help, to share your pictures, giveaways, and more!

23 responses to “Competition Chicken Thighs Recipe”

  1. Geoff says:

    I can’t wait to try these, they look great. I’ll post them on my IG @voulez_vouz_bbq.

    Also wanted to let you know I recently purchased your AP and BBQ rubs, and they were a great improvement over the ones I had been making at home by myself. Nothing but respect for you Malcolm, keep those recipes coming

  2. Doug says:

    Curious, 200 degrees seems a little high. Is this correct?

  3. Chris Chandler says:


    I don’t have a Jambo, so what do you think the actual cooking temp is where he is placing the chicken on the pit?

  4. Clay L Colvin says:

    Got my Fire Dancer Chicken Rub today!! Going with the 50-50 Killer Hogs BBQ and Vinegar Sauce. Throwing in some Hickory and Cherry wood. Dang can’t wait for this!! Thanks Malcolm

  5. Michael Stilwell says:

    Love this stuff, Malcom seems like a hell of a guy and a awesome cook! I watch a lot and I have learned way more than I thought I knew.

  6. Belinda says:

    Is this the same for boneless skinless chicken?

  7. Chas says:

    I am doing this recipe on a Green Mountain a chicken in the going to follow hope it turns out good

  8. Allen Willits says:

    Wife thinks ketchup is a hot sauce, can you recommend what to use to tame the heat?
    Not for competition btw 🙂

  9. Judd says:

    Did y’all do anything to make sure the skin does turn out rubbery? Looks like it was untouched and just let the cooking method render that fat… no scraping or perforating?

  10. Terry Chism says:

    We made this last night, using my Big Green Egg. I used Roasted chicken “Better Than Bullion” and butter For the injection. I also used your AP Seasoning, BBQ Rub, and “The BBQ Sauce”. I followed the time and temp exactly, thinking that cooking this a total of 2 hours at 300+ degrees would be way too long. I was wrong!! The thighs were juicy and delicious. They nearly fell off the bone!! My wife said it was the best she’s ever had.

  11. Rob Edgar says:

    Thanks for making me look like a genius! Last weekend I made your Monterey Jack BBQ chicken and this weekend the competition thighs.
    I have never had so many compliments and very satisfied friends and family.

  12. Trevor says:

    Hey Malcolm,

    Thanks for all the great videos! I enjoy watching and have learned a ton.. looking forward to trying some of your rubs and sauces.

    Good luck at your next comp!

  13. Jeff Stambaugh says:

    How much should you adjust the time for bringing the thighs to room temperature when you are a competition in July with temps near 90 ?

  14. Scott says:

    Is there a recommended glaze from anyone with the understanding I don’t expect the one used in this video? I’m going to use AP seasoning vs fire dancer if that makes a difference with the glaze. I have so many sauces in the fridge – just don’t know which to use.

  15. Larry Cockerel says:

    Malcolm..First time trying the thigh procedure… when you process the meat and put it in the
    fridge you have the skin side down…then you bring the meat out inject and rub applied and put in the frig again then out and on the grill…what makes the skin crispy…

  16. Jake Crary says:

    I’ve tried this a few times and it works excellent. Granted, I’m not doing it for competition reasons – only because it’s delicious! I use the rack for the first 30min portion because I have found the chicken absorbs more smoke flavor that way. Then, when I apply the glaze I use a whiskey sauce that I make a bit spicy. The results are amazing. Thanks for sharing, Malcom!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.