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!
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!