a needle tenderizer; hickory chips or chunks; a smoker or a gas grill with a smoke box or foil pan for the wood chips
Trim the chicken thighs to make them more uniform, then use a needle tenderizer to perforate the skin to aid in achieving bite through the skin.
In a large pot, combine the brown sugar, salt and 64 ounces (2 quarts) water. Heat until the salt and sugar totally dissolve in the water. Remove from the heat, let cool at room temperature and place in the refrigerator to chill the brine. Place the chicken in the chilled brine for 2 to 3 hours.
Set up a smoker or a gas grill on indirect heat at a pit temperature of 300 degrees F. Use hickory chips or chunks for the smoker. If using a gas grill, put the chips in a smoke box or foil pan under the grates on the burners.
Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Coat the chicken with the canola oil, then sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the BBQ Chicken Rub on both sides. Place the chicken in a mesh grill basket or on a wire rack.
Cook until the chicken reaches 185 degrees F, 35 to 45 minutes. It's technically done at 165 degrees F, but take it to a higher internal temperature to achieve a better mouth feel. Remove the chicken, coat with 1 cup of the BBQ Sauce and put back on the grill for a few minutes to set the sauce. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side.
BBQ Chicken Rub:
Yield:about 3 cups
In a bowl, add the sugar, paprika, pink sea salt, celery salt, granulated onion, chili powder, mustard and cayenne and whisk until combined.
Yield:about 3 cups
Mix the ketchup, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, black pepper, mustard, liquid smoke, chili powder, white pepper, coriander, cayenne and 1/2 cup water in a saucepot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring continuously. Turn off the heat, add the cognac and stir to combine. Set the sauce to the side for later use.