"Vortex" Experiment Take 3: Chicken Thighs

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by kettlemetal, Oct 21, 2015.

  1. kettlemetal

    kettlemetal Fire Starter

    Hello all,

    Last time, I tried using a steel mixing bowl with the bottom removed, though the hole is too small to be practical. I got evenly cooked split breasts, but the skin wasn't as crispy as I wanted.

    For the 3rd go at this, I went with chicken thighs and opted for some expanded prep. The day before, I did some minor trimming of excess skin and fat, and refrigerated uncovered with a light coating of baking powder, salt, pepper, garlic, and chili powder.

    I need to start counting briquettes when experimenting like this, but I started with a decently full basket of KBB instead of the bowl. Hit the middle and 4 spots around the edge for about 30 seconds each with a torch and let it go from there. When the coals were mostly lit, I added the cooking grate, a chunk of apple wood, and closed it up with all vents 100% open.

    Here are my thighs out of the fridge:

    Temps went much higher this time due to the larger volume of coal and open vents. The dome thermo went to 600+, so it's hard to say where things really were. I expected a lot of heat, but this level surprised me:

    Smoke thinned out, thighs on at 6:06 pm:

    I initially planned for 40-45 minutes, but with the dome temp sitting around 550, I decided I'd check temps and crispiness at the 30 min mark. The dome was rotated 1/4 turn every 8 minutes for even venting. Throughout this time, I took peeks through the dome vent with a flashlight to make sure that nothing was charring.

    I removed the lid and found PERFECTLY crispy skin. However, internal temps were in the 209-215 range! I quickly removed them, and set about fixing some sides.

    Off the grill:

    Plated with grilled eggplant, sauteed spinach, and a mushroom/potato/green bean mix from Trader Joe's. You can see the bottom of TJ's "Green Dragon" hot sauce bottle, which I highly recommend:

    While I can't tell you that this was the moistest chicken I've cooked, it was surprisingly moist given the high temps reached. That's one of the reasons I love thighs so much. Flavor was great, and the skin was exactly what I'm after. Things to consider next time:

    -Less coals and/or reduced intake for lower temps (425-475).


    -Brine to go high temp and stay moist.

    I'll probably opt for lower temps to cut prep. I've tried the baking powder thing with oven wings in the past and wasn't sold on the results, but it seemed to make a difference here.

    Ultimately, this still might be a meal better suited for the oven, but it's sure fun to try. You do get the benefit of smoke flavor, though you're missing out on drippings into the coals. There's a bit of that going on actually since the kettle bowl is pretty hot, but nothing like direct heat.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2015
  2. kettlemetal

    kettlemetal Fire Starter

    Forgot to mention this...

    The hook on the inside of the dome was so hot that it actually melted a bit of one of the side handles when I hung it to add the chicken! Never considered that even as a remote possibility.
  3. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Get that CI grate you will have better control,on the charcoal used.Looks good 


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