Sticky, sweet, and somewhat spicy BBQ chicken thighs can take you back to summer, and why not? When it’s cold outside, sometimes it’s the very thing you need to get through the dark days of winter. These can be made right under your broiler, with ingredients I’ll bet you already have in the pantry. You will find canned chipotle chiles in the Mexican food section at your grocer, and chipotle chili powder is with regular chili powder in the spice aisle. It’s a little more expensive, but well worth it; however, you can substitute regular chili powder, and if you want a little more heat, a dash of cayenne.
Dry Rub for the Chicken:
Note: You can leave the skin on if you wish, but we took it off and it was amazing. If you make this recipe with chicken breasts, I’d suggest leaving the skin on to keep the meat moist. You can also make this with wings, for which I’d leave the skin on, as well.
In a small bowl, stir together the smoked paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chipotle chili powder, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.
Place the chicken on a platter and rub the spices into the meat on both sides, making sure they are nicely coated. Cover with cling wrap and put in the fridge for about 3 hours.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the ketchup, maple syrup, molasses, vinegar, chipotle chiles, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, onion powder, and garlic powder. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down to low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Cool and put in the fridge.
When you are ready to cook the chicken, turn on your broiler to high and position the rack about 4 inches away from the element. Cover a broiler pan with tinfoil. If you don’t have a broiler pan, you can use a rimmed cookie sheet and metal cooling racks for baking, but be sure to slice some holes, so that the fat will drip through to the bottom, instead of the thighs just cooking in it. Place the chicken thighs on the rack and drizzle about 1 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil over all of them. You don’t need a lot, just a bit to add some moisture, since there’s no skin.
Broil the chicken for 5 minutes before turning the thighs over and broiling for another 5 minutes. They are going to get a little blackened, which is fine, but you need to watch them here. If you left the skin on, it’s going to pop and sizzle and may cause some flare-ups. You also don’t want to burn them. Now isn’t the time to wander off.
Pour about 2/3 of the reserved BBQ sauce into a dish and slather each of the thighs with it before putting them back under the broiler for a bit to sizzle up and caramelize. Continue to do this, watching carefully—slather, let sizzle, turn, slather, etc. The thighs should be cooked through (165 F ) after another 5 minutes.
DO NOT serve the leftover sauce that you used to slather the chicken. This is why we set some aside!
If the chicken is taking longer than expected, which sometimes happens, move the rack down a bit, turn the broiler off and the oven on to 400 F, and let them bake a bit until cooked through. Allow the chicken to rest for about 10 minutes before serving with the reserved sauce . . . and a lot of napkins!
Adapted from Fine Cooking.