If pigs had feathers and said "cluck" then we'd all be eating chicken bacon.
Recently I was preparing to make some grilled chicken club sandwiches for the family when I realized that the package of bacon that I thought was in the fridge was no longer there.
While I could have continued with the sandwiches sans bacon, they just wouldn't be the same without a bit of salty crunch. And so chicken bacon was born.
By removing the skin from the chicken thighs and allowing them to render directly on the grill grate, I was able to create crispy, bacon-like strips that were just as flavorful as traditional bacon when added to the rest of the sandwiches.
Behold the grilled "chicken bacon" sandwich, aka the CBLT, with fire roasted garlic mayo and crispy chicken skins!
GRILLED CHICKEN BACON SANDWICH
8 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
2 tbsp. of your favorite BBQ dry rub seasoning
I head of garlic
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 loaf crusty Italian bread, cut into 4-inch sections and sliced horizontally
Lettuce, roughly chopped
2 tomatoes, thinly slices
Prepare grill for 2-zone cooking, placing pre-heated Kingsford briquets on one side of the charcoal grate to create a hot and a cool zone. Add 2-3 chunks of your favorite smoking wood to the charcoal briquets. Place the main cooking grate on the grill and adjust the vents to bring the temperature to 400 degrees.
Remove the skin from the chicken and lightly season both sides with BBQ dry rub. Season both sides of the chicken thighs with BBQ dry rub. Remove the top from the garlic and wrap it in a double layer of foil along with the olive oil.
Set the foil wrapped garlic on the hot side of the grill then add the chicken thighs. Brown the thighs on both sides then move them to the cool side of the grill and cover. Allow the thighs to smoke for 10 minutes then add the the chicken skins to the cool side of the grill.
Cover the grill and allow the thighs and chicken skin to cook for approximately 10 more minutes until the thighs reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees (we recommend investing in an instant read thermometer such as the Thermapen) and most of the fat has rendered from the chicken skins.
Remove the thighs and foil wrapped garlic from the grill and move the skins to the hot side of the grill. Carefully grill the skins, turning frequently until crisp, approximately 3 minutes. Remove the chicken skins from the grill and set aside until ready to use.
Squeeze 3-4 of the roasted garlic cloves from the head of garlic and place in a small bowl. Mash the garlic with the backside of a spoon and blend with the mayonnaise. Remove the bones from the chicken thighs and slice the meat.
Spread the garlic mayonnaise on both sides of the Italian bread. Place sliced chicken on the bottom halves of the bread (note: you may note use all of the chicken. If not, simply reserve for later.), top with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and crispy chicken skins (aka chicken bacon). Add the top of the Italian bread and serve immediately.