Thai Thigh – Low Low Is The Way To Go.

Thai chicken thighs (9 of 12)When it comes to cooking chicken on the barbecue, low and slow is the way to go. Here in Ireland,  we tend to only have a decent spell of what any reasonable person might call summer every four years or so. When a period of sunshine arrives, we tend to go a bit crazy. Sallow fleshed white men don ‘summer’ shorts (and little else), repair to the garden and swill vast quantities of cheap lager. They then do the only bit of ‘cooking’ they are capable of handling – the botulism fest known as the ‘barbecue’. 

Supermarket sausages, ‘4 for €1’ burgers and mixed meat kebabs are blackened on the outside while the giddy germs are warmed into action in their centres. Flare-ups from dripping fat add excitement to proceedings. Chicken, that barbecue staple, is a regular offender in the beer fuelled cull of the working population.

I like to do a bit of outdoor cooking myself. I like to barbecue a bit of chicken. The tastiest chicken on the barbecue is the thigh meat, best done with skin on and bone in. This presents both opportunity and threat. The opportunity is to produce really succulent chicken, packed with flavour. The threat is to the wellbeing of you and your guests. So, if you want a foolproof recipe for chicken on the barbecue, go with my Thai Thigh Chicken.

Thai chicken thighs (1 of 12)

Recipe for disaster? Not my way.

Ingredients for Thai Thigh Chicken

  • 12 Chicken thighs
  • 1 Tablespoon of dark brown sugar
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass
  • 3 chilis (more if you like it hotter)
  • Juice and rind of two limes
  • 3 single clove garlic bulbs or a bulb of good quality garlic
  • 8 cm (2.5″) piece of ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce

Take all the dry ingredients bar the chicken and chop them up. They will be going into the blender so even slicing is not necessary.

Thai chicken thighs (2 of 12)

The lemongrass needs to have the outer skin removed before cutting.

The chilis make for a nice enough photograph. That’s why I’m showing them here.

Thai chicken thighs (3 of 12)

A nice bit of heat in these. Use more if you want watery eyes.

If you are using waxed limes (Nearly everybody is using waxed limes whether you know it or not), wash the in hot water and give the skin a good rub with a hard cloth. This will leave the zesty skin clear of wax.

Thai chicken thighs (4 of 12)

The pith adds an extra dimension of limeyness – Yes, there is such a word.

With the dry bits peeled and chopped, pop them in the blender.

Thai chicken thighs (5 of 12)

That’s a flavour punch if ever I was one.

Blend them to a paste and add the wet ingredients Blend them to a sludge. Slice each of the thighs through the skin and almost to the bone.

Thai chicken thighs (6 of 12)

Cut to the bone, as the old saying goes.

Cutting remark: We cut through the skin and flesh for two reasons. Firstly, it lets the flavours infuse the meat. Secondly, it allows the acids in the lime juice to start the cooking process. 

Add the chicken to a big bowl and pour over the marinade. Stir it very well. Cover and leave it in the refrigerator for three to four hours.

Thai chicken thighs (7 of 12)

Not the prettiest of the food shots we have here.

Take it out of the fridge about half an hour before cooking. This is to allow the chicken come back to room temperature. This is important!

Heat the barbecue to hot. Add the chicken and then turn the heat down to very low. Cover and cook for as long as it takes to cook the chicken right through. You can test this by one of a number of methods:

Use a meat probe – As you will need to probe every piece of chicken, this has its disadvantages.

Use a member of your family – This has the disadvantage of possibly seeing off some of your kith and kin. Not recommended.

Use a skewer – Poke this into the centre of each piece of chicken. If the juices run clear, you are probably safe. If not, you’re not.

Use your judgement – This is how I do it. It works for me. Then, I have been at it for a long time, every four years or so during our Irish summers.

Thai chicken thighs (8 of 12)

Baste the chicken with the marinade during cooking. But, be careful!

Something to pour over: Remember that the marinade has the potentially dangerous chicken germs lurking. Be sure to cook the marinade fully. 

Thai chicken thighs (10 of 12)

When you are sure it’s cooked take the chicken off the barbecue.

Let the chicken rest for about five minutes. Serve it with a nice mixed summer  salad.

Thai chicken thighs (12 of 12)

The lovely chicken is delicious with a summer salad.

It’s rare enough we get the opportunity to cook and eat outdoors. Be sure the chicken is not so rare and everybody will be happy. Go on try my Thai Thighs. They are really delicious.

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Latest comments
  • I kept reading that as Thigh High. I’d love to be thigh-high in that chicken, looks perfect.

    • I thought you were going to say “I had a pair of boots like that once….”.

    • Delicious

  • Your chicken thighs make me long for weather where it is not pouring with rain, or blowing a gale as it is at the moment, they also make my mouth water. I don’t know which I long for most!

    • Sadly, we too are now experiencing the ‘normal service’ of rain and electric storms. Irish summer.
      Still, it might improve by next year, or the year after….

  • Those sallow, short wearing blokes! Be still my beating heart….the chilli photos are tops, they pop out and give you a short, sharp slap around the chops. (Wouldn’t mind a bit of this chicken in my chops, especially if it wasn’t raw.)

    • Lisa, I do a fair bit of cycling (yes, in lycra) and we tend to get pretty extreme tan lines. So much so that we old duffers now say “Wear it with pride.” as we show off our white to brown to red striped bodies. Best to focus on the chicken, now that I have revealed that.

  • Excellent as always Conor, low and slow is the only way to go. I marinate the chicken in buttermilk, min of 4 hours but over night is best. Try bone in pork chops, again over night in buttermilk, a splash of hot sauce and a pinch of black pepper, then on to the BBQ and low and slow for a couple of hours.

    • I like that approach Brian. I have done the chicken in milk (as part of a Kentucky Fried extravaganza) but never buttermilk. One to try, for sure. How goes it down there in the deep south?

      • Very deep and too rural for my liking…plans are a foot to remedy this.
        Congrats on all the success. I wish I could find the time and the energy to blog again, that’s another situation that needs looking at. Keep up the good work.

        • Thanks Brian. The blogging keeps me out of the pub, some of the time – so that must be a good thing. I look forward to hearing your plans.

  • Looks really delicious Conor. Try saying the title ten times quickly though 🙂
    I’m trying to get to grips with my small charcoal barbecue as I think it is much nicer than cooking on gas. Have yet to master controlling the temperature.

    • I completely agree on the charcoal v gas. However, I too could never master the slow cooking over charcoal. One would need a huge barbecue and a lot of patience to be able to get to grips with it. So, for my sins, I am a gas convert.

  • That looks delicious! You’ve reminded me of a friend who poured uncooked marinade on his cooked chicken and had no idea he was probably going to make himself sick. Luckily I noticed and stuck the chicken back on the BBQ to kill the germs.

    • Too easy to do, I’m afraid. I like to turn the marinades into a sauce sometimes. The heating and thickening / reducing does the job too.

      • I often cook up the marinade too. I think it’s generally people who don’t cook much who make the mistake of adding an uncooked marinade to cooked meat, especially at barbecues. I’ve seen people reuse the raw meat plates for cooked meat too!

        • Dodgy dealings. No doubt the meat supplier gets the blame.

          • I don’t know – I usually keep an eye on that kind of thing, it becomes second nature after working in a professional kitchen.

  • Conor, as always you made me chuckle with joy! I dont know what I liked more, THAI, the sallow men, the grill full of chicken – nicely charred (did I say this correctly?) – oh wait, the arty photo of the 3 chillies? In short, I loved it all – thank you for bringing a little bit of irish sunshine into this very dark and extremely wet Kerala day. 🙂 🙂

    • Thanks Carina,
      Sadly that particular day was a week ago and we are now suffering similar fate to yourself. The rain does appear to be biblical in it’s downpouring. But, I reckon that is all relative.
      Thanks for the kind words,

  • “Try my Thai Thighs”… I think this should be served with a Mai Tai just to complete the alliterative ring. I’m going to give this a go, probably with less chilli, as I’m a wuss, but I can go and pick my own lemongrass from the 1.5 x 2m bush outside the back door, so hopefully the freshness of that flavour will make up… And it’ll all have to wait till I can stand for longer than 5 minutes! Healing well, but still not up to much cooking 🙂

    • You make me very envious of your lemongrass bush. We get scrawny stalks of about 20cm here and we are grateful when we can get it. Stay a wuss as long as you have a big flavour punch of lemongrass.
      I’m delighted to hear you are on the mend.

      • Thighs are on the shopping list, along with limes. My own tree has finished fruiting so I’ll have to buy the ones from further north. I’ll let you know how we go!

        • Please do Kate.

          • On tomorrow night’s menu!

          • Stop Press: It rained. So instead using of the (outdoor) barbecue, the marinated loveliness got seared in a very hot cast iron skillet until a deep brown, and then cooked gently till done in the rest of the marinade. I had to substitute a few things: you can’t get GF light soy, so I used dry sherry, and I reduced the chilli but upped the fresh lemongrass. Angels wept… It’s an awesome marinade, and a recipe I’ll be keeping and using again, for sure.

  • Love the look of your thighs Conor!

    • Sandra,
      You are not the first lady to say that to me. Just this week, when asked about it, I had to explain to a lady that cycling makes the thighs more sculptured rather than fatter. Not that she made any reference to the sculpting of my thighs. Honest!

  • Hi Conor! This chicken looks wonderful! I’ve never used lemon grass before and see it all the time at the gourmet grocery stores. I really want to try this!

    • You should do Debbie. Over on the Mountain Kitchen, you nailed some chicken in your last post. The lemongrass really adds a lot.

  • Zest not pith. Pith is the nasty bitter white bit. Zest is the tasty bitter coloured bit.

    • Thanks for that. Fixed now. I should have a pithy comment but I couldn’t think of one.

  • Such a wonderful marinade you have here Conor! The thighs look so very delicious. Glad you had a nice cook-out. 🙂

    • Thanks Ronit,
      What’s rare is beautiful, as the old saying goes.

  • Sounds really delicious. Must be nice and tender too with all that lime juice. I will definitely try this if it ever dries up here in Holland.

    • It should be drying up soon as we seem to be getting all the rain now.

  • I did get a bit tongue-twisted on the title. We grill ALL the time here in the summer, however I do live a special place that averages 300 days of sunshine a year. Although I am highly doubting those claims by the wet and cold spring we’ve had (albeit 3 days in the 90s that somehow snuck in there). Now, back to your chicken. I will HAVE to try that marinade this summer, it looks just fabulous! I do love me some spicy. 🙂

    • Knowing your spice leanings Kathryn, I would add a few more chilis. I am deeply envious of the 300 days. We are lucky to get 3 or so it seems.

  • Well it seems to me if you and your beloved visited us Down Under any December to March we could offer you a lifetime of barbecuing experience and plenty of cold frothy beer included in a two-week trip!! No problem about sunscreen or flyspray either and definitely no pale thighs to display 🙂 ! Love the plentiful lemongrass and enough chiilies in your recipe and would debone those thighs myself!!! And our quarantine laws must be keeping the salmonella out as have yet to hear our almost exclusively male barbecuing coterie worried about anyone ending up in hospital 🙂 ! C’mon over and we’ll throw a shrimp [oops, a thigh!] on the barbie . . .

    • Oh in case it never reached the Emerald Isle look the last sentence up on YouTube . . . Australia’s most [in]famous tourist ad way back . . . I am hopeless with links especially amidst comments! But we all quote it with a grin!!

      • I do remember the ad from the first time it ran! It was an instant classic and is still used as an example of great advertising (by some).

    • I really should plan a trip down that part of the world. I would love to see how the BBQ is done by professionals and the experienced like yourself Eha.

  • Nice! It’s so damned hot here now, I don’t think we’d even need a grill..

    • We are just suffering from warm, wet weather. Lots of midges and so forth. Not nice.

  • Those are some really lovely photographs – well, er, most of them. Nice, tasty post, though.

    • Thanks Anne, I appreciate the slicing shot and bowl of chicken bits might not be to everyones tastes.
      Thanks for the kind words,

  • I am sorry if I am a bit off message here but your recipe inspired me. Summer is long gone, my barbecue is overgrown with weeds brought on by all the rain. I am not hopeful of better weather until after our EU referendum and even then the signs are not good. I expect we will have an eternal winter of discontent while you will continue to bask with your beer by the barbie. So to cheer myself up I got my thighs out of the freezer mixed up your ingredients using lemon instead of lime, instant lemon grass and dried chiles instead of fresh and my own homemade fish sauce which certainly smells foul enough. I cooked this all together in the sous vide overnight at 70 deg, then tanned my thighs under the grill and drizzled them with your very tasty gravy. Wonderful but the rain is thundering off the conservatory roof as I write this wondering if they will let me emigrate.

    • Martin, you break me up. Firstly, on the recipe front, I wholeheartedly approve of the inventiveness and appropriate substitutions. Secondly, I like how you slipped in a bit of sous vide into the proceedings. Thirdly, I feel for you. Not because of the thundering rain but because even if you do manage to emigrate post Brexit, the depleted value of your UK assets and currency will not afford you a retirement anywhere else. Pray for sun!

  • I’m a wuss. I oven-cook chicken before putting it on the BBQ. I think it’s because people don’t trust me. For the life of me I can’t see why.

    On another note – the term limeyness. Is that not something to do with what’s going on in France right now?

    • You are a wuss Tara. People not trusting you is for that other reason. You know the one. As far as limeyness is concerned, you are wrong on that too. You are thinking of where English people, wearing nothing above the waist except the Union Jack, get drunk, throw bottles and climb street furniture – Limescale.

      • Ah, I see. I thought Limescale was the degree of sharpness of a Mojito, but that’s probably because of that other reason you were so gentlemanly as not to mention.

  • Those Thai thighs look scrumptious. I usually buy boneless skinless as they are so quick to cook on the grill but that charred crispy skin does make for a pretty and tasty piece of meat.

    • Thank you Karen. There are a few reasons for using these. First and foremost is the crispy skin. Second is the extra flavour from the bones. Third is the lack of availability of boneless skinless free range thighs. Very hard to get here.

  • Conor Is it Ok to marinade overnight.? The chicken thighs I mean.
    Cooking lunch for friends sans sunshine. Salmonella extra. 😄

    • Conor I don’t have a sous vide. After the Brexit I don’t have a sou either. How long in the oven? Please
      PS I still have my Irish passport. Hoorah. 🇨🇮

    • Absolutely. However, reserve the acid lime juice until a couple of hours before cooking. Otherwise, the juice ‘cooks’ the meat and the end result is pretty tough. Stir it in an hour or two before cooking and you will be great.

  • I like the cuts on the back of the chicken thighs…I am gong to use your method..very clever..I also like your method. a work of art!

      • That’s my new technique! Brilliant. You remind me of my friend from Liverpool. Great wit and great talent! I’m glad I found your blog. ..from a true fan!

  • Nice! It’s so damned hot here now, I don’t think we’d even need a grill..

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