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
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
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.)
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.