Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Boudin-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Thighs

A couple of weeks ago, Syd Kearney, food, restaurant, and bar news reporter at the Houston Chronicle put out a Twitter call to anyone with "a great game day dish for parties/tailgating." I replied, sent her a message with an old favorite recipe of mine, and we soon thereafter had a brief telephone interview.

On August 31, she published the story "Cooks' Kickoff: Tailgating fare as upscale potluck", which was featured on the front page of the STAR/FLAVOR section of the Chronicle on September 2. My recipe for Smoked Boudin-Stuffed Chicken Thighs was featured on page 4 of the section. It had been a while since I made these, and I didn't really have any decent pictures to share. I've had several inquires about these since the article was posted, so this past weekend I dusted off the recipe and set out to make a batch and take some decent pics of the steps along the way to share. Now you too can tackle these at home!

Smoked Boudin-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Thighs
(aka "Boudin Eggs")


10-12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
6 c. buttermilk
Your favorite BBQ chicken rub/seasoning
Fresh-ground black pepper, coarse
1 link of pre-smoked, spicy boudin
1 lb. bacon (Wright Brand, or your favorite brand/flavor)
Your favorite BBQ sauce
½ c. orange juice or pineapple juice


Trim fat from boneless, skinless chicken thighs with kitchen shears. Place between two layers of plastic wrap (or a zip seal bag) and pound gently with a mallet to try to achieve some uniform thickness. Place in non-reactive dish or bowl, cover with buttermilk, and place in refrigerator for about 4 hours. 

Remove from refrigerator, remove pieces from buttermilk and let drain; discard buttermilk. Transfer each piece to a separate clean non-reactive dish, lightly dusting each piece with your favorite rub and coarse-ground black pepper. Return to refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

These work best in a smoker or grill on indirect heat. At this step in the process, its time to start your fire. For the best result, you’re going to want to target about 235 deg. F for a low and slow cook temperature.

Prep boudin by removing casing. Break apart into approximately 1-1/2 inch to 2-inch sections, enough for the number of thighs you have. Loosen slightly with your hands, and reform into a shape approximately 3/4-inch to 1-inch in diameter and about 2-1/2 inches long. Don't worry, they don't have to be perfect!

(Note: For this recipe I originally used regular boudin, but I've since discovered that smoked boudin is infinitely more flavorful. It’s available at many meat markets, where you can usually pick it up refrigerated and ready to take home. My favorite sources are Hackett’s or Market Basket in Lake Charles, LA. In Houston, try Burt’s Meat Market or B&W Meat Company. I prefer the spicy variety; regular (mild) is usually available as well.)

Remove thighs from refrigerator, and for each individual thigh, place one boudin roll in the crease where the bone was removed, and roll into a cylinder.

Take one piece of bacon, stretch lengthwise (but not to point of breaking!), and wrap each thigh roll with bacon from end to end. 

Dust bacon-wrapped thighs lightly with your favorite rub, and transfer to smoker, evenly spaced. If you're using a grill, use the indirect heat method, with the fire to one side and an aluminum pan of water on the other. When the fire is hot and coals are white, place the thighs over the pan of water, and cover the grill.

Smoke time should be about two hours, or until internal temp is 165 deg. F. If you watch your temps, cook time can be reduced to about 90 minutes. (This batch was done in 80-90 minutes at a smoke temperature of 275 deg. F.)

Stir together ½ c. of your favorite barbecue sauce, and ½ c. of your juice, and brush this on twice during the last 45 minutes of cook time for an even glaze. Serve immediately.

(You can experiment with the glaze: with the BBQ sauce, try various beers, a little bourbon, various mustards, maple syrup, cola or Dr Pepper, minced herbs or peppers (jalapeno or habanero). You’re just after a thin glaze consistency; sauce by itself tends to be too thick, thus the juice additive. Whatever you dream up, as long as the result is about the same consistency as half BBQ sauce and half juice, it should be ok.)

Photo courtesy of @HoustonFed

Don’t peek too much during the cook process; if you're lookin', you ain't cookin'! 


- Scott

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Buttermilk Soak: 3 to 4 hours
Dry “Brine”: 1 to 2 hours
Cook Time: about 2 hours at 230 to 240°F
Finish Temp: 165°F
Recommended Wood: Oak, Pecan, Cherry

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