I was shopping at The Pig recently and found a fantastic deal on chicken thighs. Not only were they priced right but they were huge. Monster thighs, in fact! My biggest beef with thighs is they are usually small and you have to cook several per person. That was not an issue with these babies!
I was searching for something different to do with the chicken instead of my usual summer bbq. I wanted to cook outside since it was hot, but really did want a complex palate. I found a recipe for a Korean basting sauce for slow roasted chicken and tweaked it to fit our tastes using what I had on hand.
It could turn out one of three ways: we would try it and it would be horrible, mediocre but nothing I wanted to try again especially with the amount of sesame oil I used, or something really good that we would throw into the chicken rotation. I was more than pleasantly surprised that this exceeded any expectations I had about being just good. This was some of the best grilled chicken I have ever made!
Korean-ish Grilled Chicken
8 chicken thighs (skin on or off, personal preference)*
1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
3 cloves garlic minced ( substitute 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder if preferred)
1 quarter size slice of fresh ginger, minced ( substitute 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger if preferred)
1/4 cup agave (or honey)
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup minced green onion
Put the chicken thighs in a non reactive dish. Mix all the marinade ingredients together. Save about 1/3 of the mixture for basting and pour the remaining over the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Heat the grill to a medium heat ( I have a gas grill so this is pretty easy. Supposedly using a charcoal grill you should be able to hold your hand about 3 inches from the surface of the grill for 3-4 seconds without it burning your skin to measure for medium heat. Personally I would rather guess than use the almost burning flesh test.) Take the container you are marinating your chicken out to the grill. Using tongs place the chicken pieces on the grill and get rid of the marinade in that dish.
(I generally cook chicken over indirect heat, so it can cook through without the outside burning. Again this is easy on a gas grill. I only use the burners on the left side of the grill and cook on the right. On a charcoal grill it means keeping your coals to one side and cooking on the other)
Cook the chicken on the grill, covered for about 5 minutes. Take the mix you put aside and brush it on the top of the chicken. Let it set for about a minute then turn the chicken pieces and brush the tops with the marinade. Continue cooking until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. They are ready to serve straight from the grill.
They were the bomb. Only TheHub and I were eating so all we had was a small salad and 2 thighs each. They were so big we both just ate one apiece. They were not only big thighs but they were huge with flavor. They were a little sweet, a little hot, a little salty, with the dense earthy sesame flavor and the bright flavor of the 5 spice. It honestly did a little flavor dance in my mouth. It was one of those meals that I had to write down what I did immediately so I would know how to do it next time.
A day or so later, it was lunch time and I took one out of the fridge to eat__cold. Bad idea! This is not an eat it cold food. It needs to be rewarmed to be eaten as leftovers, though ideally just cook enough to consume at the meal. It was so much better that way. I liked it so much I made several more batches of the marinade and used the food saver to vacuum seal the thighs and marinade together. I am not sure how long it will keep frozen, but I am guessing I will cook all the packs I made within 3 months.
I am sure it would be great with rice and possibly noodles of some type. Or you could be like us and just stick to a salad side. Whatever your tastes, try this. It was so worth it.
*If you like your chicken crispy leave the skin on. Grill it for a few minutes over direct heat and then turn and move it to an indirect cooking spot. I always skin mine, because that is how I grew up eating chicken. It truly is personal preference, so do it your way.