Healthy plate: Skinless chicken thighs a flavorful alternative

Associated PressSeptember 1, 2010 

A smoky grill is a great way to add loads of flavor to food without added fat, but it comes with some risk.

The high and dry heat of this favorite backyard cooking method can suck the moisture (and flavor) from your dinner faster than you can say shoe leather.

This is especially true when cooking lower-in-fat meats such as boneless, skinless chicken breasts and pork or beef tenderloin, which have less flavor to begin with.

Marinades and flavored brines, which pump moisture into meats, can definitely help in the battle against dryness, but care still needs to be taken not to overcook.

An easier option is to go for a protein that’s a bit less lean, such as boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

True, chicken thighs are somewhat fattier than the breasts — about 7 grams per 3-ounce cooked portion — but that fat brings extra flavor and moisture that chicken breasts lack.

That extra fat also means your recipe will be harder to mess up, even with fast, high-heat cooking.

For this recipe, chicken thighs get a double dose of intense flavor from a tangy, apple cider vinegar and herb-based marinade, plus a blast of hardwood smoke on the grill.

By placing either a pierced foil packet of damp wood chips or a smoker box on the heat source, it’s easy to use a gas grill to add a burst of smoked flavor.

If you like, prepare this recipe on a charcoal fire and scatter the dampened wood chips directly on the coals.

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