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Bob Hart’s Recipe for Grilled Chicken Thighs

Article image for Bob Hart’s Recipe for Grilled Chicken Thighs


For years, many consumers have been happily snapping up skinless chicken breasts and assuming they will be delicious after a quick trip to the barbie.

But if you were one of those, forget it. They will be bland and boring, however you barbecue them. There is a better way:

It has taken time, but suddenly most butchers and even most supermarkets have lifted their games, and are offering a prime cut of chicken, especially if you are planning to grill it outdoors.

That cut is chicken thighs – darker, firmer and always more delicious than boring breasts. And now, at last, available even in supermarkets as nature intended: bone in, skin on.

Now some of you may have already discovered how much more delicious thighs are than breasts. But if you have not taken the additional step of buying those thighs skin on and bone in, you are about to be astonished at just how much difference this small adjustment – which, curiously, requires the outlet from which you are buying it to do less, not more – will make.

So pick up some of these thighs – supermarkets are selling some very good ones in packs of six, while butchers and chicken specialists will sell you as many or as few as you want – and fire up your barbecue. For a gas grill such as a Weber Q, ensure your grill is clean and oiled, and at around 200C or a touch higher. A larger gas grill or even a charcoal grill should be prepared accordingly.

Salt the thighs well (with sea salt) an hour or two at least before you intend to cook them, and leave them out of the fridge to return to room temperature. And when cooking time arrives, oil them with EV oil and finish with a few grinds of fresh, black pepper.

Place them on the grill, skin down, at 45 degrees to the grill bars, drop the lid and leave them in peace for 4-5 minutes.

And now the fun begins: place a quantity of good maple syrup in a small bowl and, when the time is up, use a small brush to apply a coating of the syrup to the cooked skin of the chicken when you raise the lid and flip the thighs with your tongs. Now, drop the lid again for another 4 minutes.

Repeat the process twice more, remembering to move the thighs through 90 degrees after the next flip, and you will find you have some handsomely grill-marked and glazed nearly cooked chicken thighs.

Always use an instant-read digital thermometer to check the temperature of all meats – but especially chicken – before lifting it off the grill. You are looking for at least 75C provided you lift it off onto a hot platter and immediately loosely tent it with foil. It will keep cooking and, within 5 more minutes or so, you will find the temp has risen about 5 more degrees.

You will also find, of course, that this is just about the most delicious grilled chook you have ever eaten. And dead easy, right?

Peter 'Grubby' Stubbs