Crock to Cue: Enjoy chicken thighs on the BBQ with a little help from your slow cooker

For many families, September marks the beginning of one of the busiest times of the year. It’s back to the grind work-wise, back to the kids’ after-school activities, and back to your own interests and routines be it the gym, hobbies and courses you’re pursuing, or a sport you enjoy that helps keep you active throughout the winter. Add to these busy times shorter days and cooler weather, and many folks resign themselves to kissing their beloved barbecues good-bye. After all, who has time to grill chicken quarters or thighs, say, which generally require about 45 minutes of careful tending?

But wait. There is an affordable-and-affable (my uppity term for cheap-and-cheerful) solution you may already have stashed away in your cupboard: a slow cooker. The crock-to-cue method employed in this recipe sees you throwing the chicken in the appliance in the morning, and then, when you get home, finishing it off on the barbecue. The result? Tender, juicy barbecued chicken thighs in 15 minutes or less.

Spiced Grilled Chicken Thighs

  • Good quality Chicken Rub to taste
  • 3 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 8)
  • 2-3 onions, quartered
  • Liquid to cover bottom of slow cooker ¼ inch (water, broth, beer or wine – whatever you have on hand, or perhaps, in hand!)

Rinse thighs and pat dry with paper towels. Rub generously with your favourite chicken rub. (This step can be done the night before if you’re anticipating a super rushed morning – simply rub, wrap and refrigerate.) Pour liquid into slow cooker. Place onions in slow cooker cut-side down to create “stilts” to elevate thighs which prevents them from cooking in their own juices. Place chicken pieces skin-side up on top of onions. Cover and cook on LOW 7 to 9 hours or HIGH 5 to 6 hours.

Heat and oil grill well. Cook chicken on medium high for about 15 minutes or until grill marks are achieved and skin is crisp.

TIP: Don’t throw out the tasty liquid you’ll end up with at the bottom of the slow cooker. Simply strain, pressing on the onions to extract additional flavour. Freeze and use to add to your next broth or gravy.

WINDY WEATHER BBQ TIP: This from the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association of Canada website ( Position gas grills so the wind is perpendicular to gas flow and not blowing the flame down the burner tubes.

(Looking for another fab Crock to Cue recipe? For C2C BBQ Baby Back Ribs (or side ribs or button-bone) click here. For fabulous Beef Short Ribs with a 15-minute grill-time click here.

Check back next week for another Crock to Cue recipe, this time involving beef!