America's Test Kitchen solves the bacon/chicken dilemma.
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Step 1: 4 Chicken Thighs
Thanks to Cooks Illustrated for this Recipe. It calls for 2 lbs De-boned skinless thighs, I used 4 large thighs which yielded 20 ounces vs 32.
They called for 30-minute dry brine, of salt/pepper, I used garlic salt and course black pepper with a little cayenne.
Step 2: The Rub
The actual recipe called for 2 Tb sweet paprika and 2 Ts smoked paprika and 4 Ts Sugar.
I dialed that back to 2 Ts sweet paprika and 2 Ts Chili powder 4 Ts Turbinado sugar.
The rub is not actually applied to the chicken.
Step 3: Bacon
2-pieces of smoked bacon sliced into 1" Pieces
Step 4: Process the Bacon
This is trick!
Process the bacon in a food processor until a smooth paste forms.
If you have ever wrapped a piece of bacon around chicken and tried to perfect the 2 different cooking times you will appreciate this trick. This paste crisps up like 5X faster than a piece of bacon.
When this paste renders during the cooking process it turns into almost a granola texture.
So as opposed to a flabby under cooked piece of bacon around a dried out over cooked piece of chicken, you get perfection in a bite.
Step 5: Bacon Paste
Combine the rub and the bacon paste thoroughly and then apply to the chicken.
The recipe called for 1" cubes of chicken, My chicken pieces were more like 3/4" X 3" then folded over, so a bit larger than 1" cube.
When applying the bacon paste I tried to keep it on the 4 exterior sides, avoiding getting any in the interior of the fold to avoid it not completely rendering.
Step 6: Skewer the Chicken
I used double metal skewers for stability and coated the chicken with the bacon paste and spice rub.
These babies are ready for cooking.
Step 7: Grilling
The Cooks Illustrated recipe stipulates in the title it is meant for a gas grill.
I obviously went with an open charcoal grill, direct up close fire, so these don't stay on long.
2-3 minutes a side. Only a few flares up from pieces of bacon falling down, so constant monitoring is required.
Keep direct contact of flames off the meat, as the sugar will burn rapidly, so either move them around or in my case I just lowered the fire box until flames subsided.
Step 8: Temp the Meat
Again this is a folded piece of chicken so you want to be mindful that it is cooked through.
Temp several of the pieces in different areas to be sure you have reached the goal temp.
Recommendations are 160 for white meat, 175 for dark.
No one should be cooking chicken or pork without an instant read meat thermometer!
Not for fear of under cooking, but the universal tendency to over-cook because you have no idea what is going on.
Spend 15 bucks and stop drying out your proteins.
This is the first time I tried this recipe, turned on to it by a buddy with a test kitchen account.
I will remake a few times and likely tweak the rub a bit more.
Feel free to do the same.