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Barbecued Chicken Thighs with Kansas City-style Barbecue Sauce

In my opinion, the thigh and wing are the two most flavorful pieces of a chicken. Dark meat chicken has twice as much fat as white meat, but it also has twice as much flavor. Removing the skin and visible fat significantly reduces a thigh’s fat content. The use of a vinegar spray is an old barbecue tradition that aids in the cooking and adds a subtle tart and fruity flavor to barbecue.

Chicken thighs, skin and visible fat removed

1 cup water

1/2 cup distilled vinegar

Salt and black pepper

Plastic spray bottle

Prepare the finishing sauce (recipe follows). Remove skin and visible fat from the thighs. Pictured are thighs with fat (left) and with fat removed (right).

Prepare the grill for direct cooking over a medium fire. Combine the water and vinegar in the plastic spray bottle. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Grill directly over the fire, turning as required to prevent burning (approximately every 5 minutes). Each time the chicken is turned, spray the pieces with the water-vinegar mixture.

Cook the chicken for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until done. When the chicken is fully cooked, baste with the sauce. Continue cooking until the sauce has thickened slightly but use caution to not burn the sauce (it has sugar in it).

Kansas City-Style Finishing Sauce

3/4 cup ketchup

1/2 cup distilled vinegar

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a 6-inch sauce pan over medium heat, bring barely to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The spices will float on the surface when first added so be sure to incorporate them into the liquid.

NOTE: When it comes to barbecue sauce I would like to make the distinction between a basting sauce and a finishing sauce. A basting sauce is used during the cooking process, while a finishing sauce is used only at the end of cooking. Many “barbecue” sauces, such as this one, are high sugar and are a finishing sauce to be applied only after the meat is fully cooked. Basting sauces are usually low sugar, high oil, and do not burn easily. An excellent basting sauce is; equal parts water, distilled or apple cider vinegar, and water. This must be placed in a container that can be vigorously shaken, not stirred, each time before use.

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