The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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CNHI News Service Originals

October 5, 2012

Versatile and cheap, thighs are a chicken's best feature

If you read my column frequently, you know how much I love chicken thighs. They can be smoked, grilled or broiled. They can be made to taste like oversized Buffalo wings for a football game, or they can be dressed up to carry their weight as a fine dining main course.

And they are reasonably priced. This past week I bought four pounds of bone-in chicken thighs for $3.56. Yes, you read that correctly. You'll spend almost as much for a hot dog and chips at your local gas station.

So to say there is real value in chicken thighs in these tough economic times is like saying it hurts to fill up your gas tank.

Plus, chicken thighs are difficult to mess up.

Long considered the premium cut of the chicken, the breast can be temperamental, especially on the grill. In Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned competitions, the breast was the meat used for years in the chicken category. (The official categories are chicken, ribs, pulled pork and beef brisket.) Now, the cut of choice is the thigh.

Not only does the thigh have a richer flavor, it is a moister cut with a larger margin of error. With the breast, there is about a two-minute window between perfectly done and dry and leathery.

Today's recipe is simple. And while I prefer it on a real charcoal grill, it is easily made on a gas grill, as well.

If you are using a kettle grill, set up the grill with indirect heat, which means piling 30 or so lit briquettes on one side of the grill. For a smoky flavor, sprinkle the coals with wood chips; any type will work. If you are doing gas, preheat the grill be lighting two or three of your burners, leaving an area of the grill without direct heat. We want the grill temperature to be 325 to 350 degrees.

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