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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.

. 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
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Now I'll try to answer a couple questions that were posted,or PM ed to me.

I don't ,personally,dry the marinade off the thighs,before I apply the rub.

Jim cooks his large,selfcut thighs at a measured grate temp of 200 º,and you can preheat the cooker-if you wish.

Remember there will be some variation in time/temp,but he is cooking to a contest schedule that he has worked out.

If they are a little undercooked,the "wollerin'" in the 200º[barely simmer] sauce,in the loosely covered Al pan for an hour,will continue to barely cook the chicken.

The hour is to give the thighs a chance to take in some sauce and plump back up.

The sauce will be pretty thin,as some chicken juices are cooking out of the thighs and into the sauce.

When you go to the grill/house oven to finish,this will be merely a glaze.

You could go back into your Cookshack,at 235º,to set the glaze-if that is your only option.

I personally ,at home,like fruit wood on chicken.

Apple suits me,although hickory gets used a lot.

Cherry can give some nice color,if you don't oversmoke and make it too dark.

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