Meat Hacks: Chicken Thigh Brats?
Using Chicken Thighs for Bratwurst
On the community section of meatgistics.com, the user knuclehead BBQ was talking about how he likes to use chicken thighs as they have higher fat content and are generally less expensive. I’ve done this once before, but it has been a few years, so I wanted to do a video on the process to show you guys what the differences are between the process and the finished product.
To start, I bought some chicken thighs with the skin on them, so I need to bone them out, take the skin off, and then I need to weigh them again to know how much meat I am working with. Since I am going to grind this, I’m not too worried about how I get the chicken off the bone, but basically, what we want to do is to expose the bone by making slices on either side of the bone, and then you will be able to get your knife behind it to cut it away from the rest of the meat. I’m removing the majority of the skin, but we aren’t too worried about a little bit of skin making it in as we are grinding it.
I am going to grind this twice, first through a 3/8th plate and then through a 3/16th plate. I’ve oiled the plate and knife before starting the grinder to prevent the plate and knife from creating too much friction, which will heat the plate and it will help extend the life of the plate and knife. As always, we want to make sure our meat is cold before it goes through the grinder; this will speed up the grinding, and obviously, keeping meat cold is good for food safety. The speed of the second grind is always going to be a little bit slower than the first, but it’s not taking too long.
Since I don’t need protein extraction for this, I am going to mix in the seasonings and additives by hand. After deboning this, we have 3 lb, so we need 2 and 1/4 oz of seasoning, 1/2 an oz of carrot fiber, 1/4 of an oz of cold phosphate, 3 oz of water, and just over a 1/4 lb of cheese. I am going to add the cheese during the last stage of mixing to prevent smearing it. Since I am using cold phosphate, I am using about 1.5 times the amount of water I normally would with bratwursts, you don’t have to do this, but the increased water-holding capacity of the meat means it should be able to handle it, and it will make stuffing easier.
I have loaded the stuffer being careful not to create any air pockets, and I am using 30mm fresh collagen. I’ve selected the largest stuffing tube that my casings will fit over and am ready to stuff. My hand is gripped around the tube near the opening, and I am applying gentle pressure so that the casing is still able to flow off of the tube, but it is filling the casing nicely. If I were to use too little pressure, the casing would be understuffed like this, or if I used too much, I would either get a blowout or backflow. Backflow is when the meat comes up and around the tube instead of out into the casing.
I’ve grilled these, and for anyone wondering, I like to start chicken brats out around 275° for about 5 minutes before turning the grill up to 350° to finish them off. This prevents them from cooking too fast and popping the casing and helps prevent them from over-drying.
So using chicken thighs instead of breasts gave us a nice juicy product, and adding the carrot fiber and cold phosphate helped even more, so these are practically bursting with juice! Also, the South of the Border Cheddarwurst is awesome for people who like a little bit of heat but don’t want something really hot. It’s got a great flavor and a decent amount of heat without it being overpowering at all. This is a brand new seasoning, and it should absolutely become a Walton’s favorite in no time.
I think the taste difference was significant; I came back a few days later and made a few more lb from chicken breast, and yes, the chicken thighs absolutely make a better-tasting finished product than using just breasts!
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When using cold phosphates with a fresh product, do you have to hold overnight before cooking? I have used the same techniques above for ground jerky and snack sticks (of course with the addition of pink sure cure), held overnight and then smoked to great success. How fast acting are cold phosphate’s properties to drop the level of ph? When should a fresh product be ready to cook?
You do not need to hold a product overnight with cold phosphate. You only hold a product like jerky or snack sticks because of the cure, not phosphates.
Also cold phosphate will not drop the pH. It actually does the opposite and it can increase the pH of meat by a couple points. Maybe 0.1 to 0.3 or so increase in pH value.
If you are making a fresh product, as soon as you stuff the sausage and twist link, you are fine to throw them on the grill right then and there! You can cook immediately.
Austin Gracias! No sweat then! I will be making the Excalibur Asian Sriracha with the High Temp Sriracha Cheese for a last minute party this evening. Spicing the thigh meat at 125% (20 lb of thigh meat for 1.18 lb seasoning) with carrot binder and cold phosphates. All is right in the world again. Cheers!