herb and cheese stuffed chicken thighs

Grilled Stuffed Chicken Thighs

Many people choose chicken breast as their go-to for poultry. But the dark meat—especially thigh meat—is where the flavor’s at.

This Grilled Stuffed Chicken Thighs recipe was created for SABER Infrared Grills by Chef Chris Koetke. 

Americans love their chicken breasts. Yes, they’re easy to eat. And without the skin, they’re really low in fat. But from a culinary standpoint, dark meat—especially thigh meat—is where the flavor’s at. Many Asian countries, for example, prize dark meat over white meat for its fuller, richer flavor and ability to retain its moisture much more than white meat. In the USA, there is an added advantage: dark meat is much less expensive than white meat.

What some people don’t like about dark meat is eating around the bone. So in this recipe, the thighbone is removed and replaced by ham, feta and green onions. The thigh is then rolled up and secured with butcher’s twine to hold it together during the grilling.

Before moving on to the cooking process, I would like to make three quick comments.

Recipes are always suggestions. Thus, there’s nothing sacred about the ham, feta, and green onion. You could really put just about anything inside the thigh as long as it doesn’t melt or is not too liquid. Think nuts, salami, cooked asparagus, prosciutto, fresh herbs, pesto, Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. The possibilities are endless!

What’s important in this recipe is the technique. Be sure that when you tie up the thighs, you use real butcher’s twine and not other strings, which are not meant for food and can even melt under high heat.

Savor the skin. The skin on the outside of the thigh is very important to the overall moisture, flavor, and color of the finished product. When cooked correctly, it’s my favorite part!

herb and cheese filled chicken thighs

Once the chicken thighs are rolled up and secured with a string, they form a compact cylinder. This shape calls for medium heat, as the intense high heat of the SABER would burn the outside before the inside is done. Remember, this is not a chicken breast. This is also where the heat controls of the SABER are such a culinary advantage. During the cooking process, the thighs are routinely rotated so that the entire surface of the cylinder is evenly browned. Thus, be ready to check in on the grill every 4-5 minutes to ensure even browning. Also, be sure to cook the chicken thighs with the grill lid closed. This will help the chicken thigh cook evenly.

The thighs are done when they reach 165°F in the center. Unlike chicken breasts that dry out quickly, it’s OK to remove the thighs from the grill somewhere between 165-175°F. Let the thighs rest for a few minutes before serving during which time you can remove the strings. And then, enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 4 large bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs
  • Ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • Smoked ham, cut into 4-inch segments
  • Feta cheese, cut into 4-inch segments
  • 8 green onion segments, cut into 4-inch segments
  • Salt

Directions

  • Remove the bone from each chicken thigh.
  • Keeping the chicken thighs skin-side down on a cutting board, sprinkle them evenly with black pepper. Top with 1 teaspoon of mustard and spread evenly.
  • Put the ham and feta in the center of the chicken where the bone used to be. Place two (2) pieces of the green onion next to the ham and cheese. Fold the chicken over so that the thighs return to their bone-in appearance.
  • Using butcher’s twine, tie the thighs in 2 or 3 places. Be sure not to tie them too tightly so as not to squeeze the filling ingredients out of the ends.
  • Place the thighs on a medium hot SABER grill, skin side up and seam-side down. Cook until nicely browned with the lid closed. Roll the thighs around on the grill every 4-5 minutes in order to brown all sides nicely.
  • The thighs will take 20-25 minutes. To test for doneness, insert an instant read thermometer into the center of the chicken thigh. It should read a minimum of 165°F, but could go as high as 175°F.
  • Remove from the grill and let sit for several minutes before serving. During this time, remove the strings by cutting them with a pair of scissors and gently pulling them off the thighs.

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