This is “Part 1” of a three part post for folks about grilling chicken thighs with Weber grills. This technique is extremely easy, very forgiving and highly reproducible. I am not claiming it is “the world’s best chicken” but I will tell you that it is pretty danged good!
The technique in this post uses “High Indirect Heat” with a Weber kettle grill. In the “Part 2” post I will show you how to use “Low Indirect Heat” with a Weber kettle. In both posts I am using a Weber 22.5 inch kettle grill. The “Part 3” post will use “Direct Medium Heat” on a Weber Genesis.
Start by placing some chicken thighs into a brine (1 quart water, 1/4 cup kosher salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar) and let it soak in the refrigerator for at least four hours.
Take the thighs out of the brine and dry them off with paper towels. Place the thighs skin side down on a cutting board and trim off the extra skin and fat.
Season both sides of the thighs with salt and pepper. Don’t worry about exotic dry rubs. This is going to turn out just fine by going simple.
Now that the thighs are brined, trimmed and seasoned it is time to get your grill ready. I leave the chicken on the counter and let it warm while I perform this step. Place two sheets of crumpled newspaper under a charcoal chimney, load the chimney with Kingsford charcoal and light the newspaper. The newspaper will make a lot of smoke.
I light the chimney on top of my Weber 18 inch One Touch Silver; it’s the only use this grill ever sees anymore. If you don’t have an extra grill to use then perform this step with the chimney sitting on the charcoal grate of your grill. Do not light the chimney on the cooking grate of the grill you will be using. When I have flames coming out the top of the chimney (about 15 minutes) I dump the charcoal into a pile in the middle of the charcoal grate. I do not spread the coals around.
Put the cooking grate on the kettle and arrange the thighs in a circle around the outside of the charcoal. None of the thighs are directly over any charcoal. Put the lid on the kettle and let the temperature settle in between 350F and 425F. You are now grilling chicken thighs on your kettle! FYI…keep all of the vents on the kettle fully open.
After 10 minutes I do something that most people say not to do; I peek. I open the lid and use a pair of tongs to grab the cooking grate and rotate it about 180 degrees. I do this just in case there is a hot spot in the grill and one side of the grill is cooking faster than the other. This isn’t really necessary; it just gives me an excuse to open the lid!After another 10 minutes I turn the grilled chicken thighs over and baste the bottom with Italian dressing. I like to use Wishbone because it tastes great and does not burn. Feel free to use a different brand if you like but check out the ingredients first. Never use a dressing that lists corn syrup as one of the first couple of ingredients; it burns too easy.
Here is what the bottom of the grilled chicken thighs look like before and after being brushed with the Italian dressing.
Close the lid and let the chicken cook another ten minutes. Baste the meat side of the thighs one more time, flip it over and then brush the skin side.
Let the chicken thighs grill for another 5 minutes and start checking the internal temperature with a digital thermometer. You are done when the thighs hit 170F. Don’t worry if you over cook these guys and your temp hits 190F; the brining step was an insurance policy against turning these into hockey pucks.
Take a close look at the next picture; notice how the surface of the meat is pink? That is a little smoke ring and it is a good thing. A lot of folks will freak when served pink chicken as they think it is undercooked. If your guest is nervous calmly point out that you measured the internal temperature and yes, the chicken is done. Also point out that if the chicken wasn’t cooked that it would be pink on the inside, not the outside.
The total grilling time for these chicken thighs was just under an hour and they turned out great. Next up is a more traditional “Low and Slow” technique. Try both of these techniques a few times and I promise you will be turning out some awesome yardbird with your Weber 22.5 inch kettle.