Posted by Jumpin' Jim on January 31, 2001 at 21:04:41:
For contests I only cook thighs and I cook 16 of them. I marinade them in Paul Newman's Own (Olive Oil and Vinegar) 4-8 at a time in a heavy zip lock bag depending on the size of the thighs. I start them marinating at approx. 4 pm on Friday.
I have used various rubs but what I really like these days is Head Country (Ponca City, OK) tweaked for heat which I get by adding a small amount of Cayenne Pepper. The thighs come out of the marinade at 7:30 sat morning and I lightly and evenly dust them with the rub.
I put them on the smoker and cook them to 180 degrees internal temp in exactly three hours. If I am using the Ole Hickory I use pecan and if I am cooking on Traeger or a Fast Eddy Smokebox I use hickory pellets.
At the three hour mark I test each thigh with a toothpick for tenderness. I put my best 8 in one half size alum pan from Sams Club with one bottle of Head Country Original Sauce. I put the second best 8 in the other pan. I loosely tent the pans with foil and let them woller in the sauce for approx. one hour.
Half hour before turn-in I take 8-10 best thighs and put them on Weber Kettle or Cajun Grill indirect with a reasonably cool fire so I won't burn the sauce. I taste one of the worst thighs and make an assessment of how it tastes and if I think that taste can do well. If I need to make adjustments, especially with salt, I do it at this time and then set the seasoning with a light brushing of sauce.
For turn-in I pick my best six thighs and put them in the box. No special arrangement because the thighs usually take up most of the room. Just try to have a decent looking box.
This process doesn't always work but it has been very good to me.
If any of you want more specifics please email me directly. I assume most of you are very good cooks and will be able to take this brief process and make it work for you. By the way Paul Newman's is a very good marinade for other meats, especially lamb when combined with Head Country Rub and Head Country Sauce