Rachel's Table

Pepper-licious Grilled Chicken Thighs

Last week after I played Peppermeister Roulette, I was left with a runny nose, a burning sensation in the back of my throat, and a rainbow of pretty peppers. Since these peppers were grown with love and care by the great Peppermeister, I wanted to find just the right recipe to do them justice. I found what I wanted over at Skinny Girls and Mayonnaise in a post called Phoenix from the Flames, a fitting title for Peppermeister’s prized peppers (say that three times fast). Even better, the recipe uses one of my favorite underestimated meats: chicken thighs.

I tweaked the recipe slightly, adding more sugar, replacing dry hot red pepper flakes with a fresh Cherry Bomb, omitting the butter, and adjusting the salt and spices a bit. But I give full credit to Sean from Skinny Girls and Mayonnaise. After the brine, the dry rub, and the grilling, these chicken thighs are spicy, smoky, sweet, and pepper-licious.

Pepper-licious Grilled Chicken Thighs

8 local bone-in chicken thighs with skin

For the brine:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup salt

2 cups water

For the dry rub:

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

The versatile dry rub

For the sauce:

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons prepared chili garlic sauce

1 Cherry Bomb pepper, seeded and finely diced

This pepper got me when playing Peppermeister Roulette. That’s why I sliced him and diced him for this recipe.

Cherry Da-Bomb Vinegar Sauce

The day before, make the brine. In a large bowl or tupperware container, toss the chicken thighs in the brine, cover and refrigerate. Toss once or twice over the course of the brining.

The next day when ready to grill, in a small saucepan, combine the vinegars, sugar, chili garlic sauce and Cherry Bomb pepper. Heat over medium until simmering and remove from heat.

Remove thighs from brine. Pat dry with a paper towel. Generously sprinkle chicken with the dry rub.

Heat your grill to medium high. (I used a charcoal grill and a chimney starter, dumping the coals in the grill when they just turned white hot on top.) Begin grilling chicken, skin side up. Use a pastry brush to baste the chicken with the vinegar sauce as it cooks. Grill for 8 to 12 minutes on each side, basting a few times as the meat cooks. (I always check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer – 160 to 165 degrees for poultry.)

On the grill

For a side dish, I sprinkled ears of local corn with leftover dry rub and grilled–so good! Who knew celery seed and grilled corn were a perfect combination?

Thank you, Peppermeister and Sean, for making this dish one of the best things I grilled all summer.

The finished masterpiece



    Whoa… those chicken thighs look perfect! Not just because you used an expertly grown pepper. Grilling thighs on a charcoal grill is a fine art. Avoiding charred skin while maintaining crispiness is no easy task.
    Great use of the cherry bomb, I use fresh peppers in all of my marinades.

  2. You know this is the beginning and end of both of our current marriages, right? Those thighs look AMAZING (ahem).

    And dry rub/celery seed on corn – we’ll have to try that! Peppermeister’s been putting fresh, fancy cinnamon on ours lately (Accidental Stepmom gave it to us, actually – look at this foodie, bloggy loving going on!).

      • When it comes to cinnamon, the fancier the better. It’s called ceylon, a.k.a. “real cinnamon”, a.k.a Mexican cinnamon. I melt equal parts butter and honey (or agave) and mix with some ceylon, and peppermeister powder. Brush on the corn, wrap in foil and grill. It’s pretty incredible. I think I just totally spoiled an upcoming p-meister post….

  3. Thanks for the shout out, Luv. Looks tasty! You folks reading this, PUT THAT BUTTER BACK IN!!! (But make sure it’s, ahem, local butter…) Rach, didn’t you read my “Everything’s Better With Butter” post!??

  4. This looks sooooo ridiculously good, Rachel! And I don’t even typically like dark meat. But I think I could eat it with this lusciousness involved. I always brine chicken before I fry it — I make some mean fried chicken — and it makes it so yummy.

    • This recipe will switch you over to the dark side. πŸ™‚ I’ve never perfected fried chicken; maybe I need your recipe. Are you sure you don’t use shake and bake? Remember that?

      • It’s Shake and Bake and I helped. How could I not remember?

        My recipe is awesome. Brine chicken in a TBSP of salt mixed into buttermilk for about two hours. Then dredge through seasoned flour and throw into a pan of hot peanut oil. Delish! Just don’t toss the pan dripings! Add a little butter and flour to that, throw in some cream and seasoning and you’ve got the best gravy on the planet.

  5. Pingback: Peppermeister’s Sweet and Spicy Asian Wings « PEPPERMEISTER!

  6. Instead of using a tupperware container, I like to use a gallon zip lock bag. It means less dishes that I have to do later. This sound amazing. It’s going into my must try pile of recipes that seems to be growing by the day.

  7. Pingback: Thank You, Pinterest (Even If You Are Crazy) | Rachel's Table

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