Chicken Brats Made From Thigh Meat
Meat Hacks: Chicken Thigh Brats?
Learn what happens when we use chicken thighs instead of breasts to make bratwurst with Walton's and Meatgistics. Watch the video, read the guide, and then post your questions or comments below.
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 a 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 in the process and in 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 it 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 was 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 t finish them off. This prevents them from cooking too fast and popping the casing and helps preventing 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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stanca last edited by
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.
stanca last edited by
@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!
I do it all the time. Still remember my mom saying it’s not a good idea. I’m sure if you are buying a nice steak and intend it eat it as a grilled T-bone you might notice some flesh cell break down (texture change). If you are going to use it in sausage you will not notice any difference. Made brats last night. Once frozen pork and elk. Refroze the brats. I do it time and time again.
Here is a link to a website that has a handy Excel spreadsheet. It is, as it says a free non-commercial site.
As for Waltons dropping the ball, I vote they are doing a great job.
I think for all of us there are general guidelines, but unless you have a temperature and humidity controlled environment, both for the preparation, cooking (if you cook them) smoking, hanging etc, the results are bound to vary from batch to batch.
Personally, I am searching how to get my home made smoked and dry cured pepperoni to the exact texture and firmness of Margarita pepperoni from the store.
Through trial and error I have the flavor where I want it, but not the texture or firmness. I know time, temperature and humidity are all crucial, but the best I can do is in the basement and then subject to the environment that is there.
I figure as long as I am not killing anyone or making anyone sick I am making progress. Thanks Waltons for all of the great information so far.
Having said that, it would be nice to have your chart in an Excel spreadsheet.
Thanks Jonathon! One question tho! You eluded to 178 being high for a temp! Don’t you guys recommend setting the temp at 175 during the final stage to completion to internal temp? Three degrees shouldn’t make that much difference should it??
Sounds reasonable. Thanks for your input. Pulling the meat at 152 will make a big difference I bet! Thanks again.
@Kinger Thanks for the information. Your process, other than going to 178, is on in my mind. The only thing I do differently is an ice bath for 20 minutes. Showering for 10 minutes, if you are running a cycle and a fan in your smoker can work, but I still think an ice bath would bring it down faster and more. Last time I did thick summer sausage it was down to 110 in 20 minutes, I also tried showering it at 2 minutes on 2 minutes off for 20 minutes and it was only down to 136 (ish) but i did not have a fan running on them.
One more thing you might want to try, if you are stalled towards the end you can finish them up by putting them in a vacuum bag (I have done then hot, right from the smoker, some condensation in the bag but it still gets a good vac) and get some water going at around 165, it should get up to temp in under an hour depending on the thickness.