Tuesday, June 2, 2020

BBQ Chicken Legs featuring Christie Vanover’s Chicken Rub

[FTC Standard Disclosure] I received no compensation for this post and paid full price when purchasing the rubs.

My childhood memories of BBQ chicken are always about a drumstick cooked on the grill and then abundantly sauced with a tangy tomato-based sauce. It was never truly BBQ chicken as much as grilled chicken with BBQ sauce, but that's semantics. Serve this to most people and they will call it BBQ chicken. It has been a while since I have made any, so I whipped up a batch using Christie Vanover’s new chicken rub and two different sauces.

BBQ chicken legs featuring Christie Vanover's Chicken Rub
The legs were cooked with two different sauces for a taste test.

Christie Vanover is the culinary genius behind the BBQ and grilling blog, Girls Can Grill, and she is the pitmaster of the BBQ competition team of the same name. Alexis and I first met Christie in Nashville a few years ago at the Certified Angus Beef Annual Conference. Since then, she and I have attended several events together, such as the CAB BBQ Summit, Cooking with Smithfield World Championship, The Jack Daniels BBQ Invitational, and more. Christie is a creative chef and a fierce competitor, so when she announced her line of BBQ rubs through Spiceology, I knew I had to order a set. 

Christie Vanover's BBQ rubs from Spiceology

The cook was simple and straightforward. The only advance prep that I did was to put the chicken legs on a rack and pan in the refrigerator for an hour to air-dry. This dries the surface of the chicken, promoting browning and a crispy crust. 

Putting chicken on a rack/pan like this in the refrigerator lets the cold, dry air circulate around the chicken, removing the surface moisture.

Grill Set-Up

Meanwhile, I set up a large Big Green Egg with the basic indirect set up: a Kick Ash Basket full of lump charcoal, a ConvEGGtor (aka plate setter or heat diffuser), a foil-covered drip pan, and a standard BGE cooking grate. You could do alternative setups with multi-tier systems like the Adjustable Rig, Eggspander, or Kamado Joe’s Divide and Conquer system. I wanted crispy skin and was in somewhat of a hurry, so I preheated the Egg to 400°f. 

Setting up the BGE for indirect heat with the ConvEGGtor


Christie likes orange and the color in her rub pops, doesn’t it? I like that it isn’t ground to oblivion, you can see the herbs and seasonings in there. Christie loaded this rub with some of my favorite things, such as; smoked paprika, cane sugar, chile peppers for heat, lemon peel for brightness, and my favorite transition flavor – red bell pepper. The aroma straight out of the bottle is smoky and sweet. The taste is well-balanced, less sweet than many commercial rubs, smoky, and then it quickly transitions to a mild savory and heat. 

Christie Vanover's Chicken Rub from Spiceology

I lightly applied some high temperature cooking oil (peanut, avocado, or canola oil) to the legs and then let Christie’s Chicken Rub rain on all sides of the legs. I put the legs into the kamado grill, making sure to have the legs over the ConvEGGtor so that none of them were directly over the hot coals. I let the legs cook and spritzed them with apple juice every 15 minutes until they reached an internal temperature of 165°f, which took about 40 minutes. 

How to cook chicken legs on a Big Green Egg

While that cooked, I made coleslaw as a quick side. I noticed that I had just enough mayo left in the jar to make the dressing. Instead of using a bowl, I just put the usual ingredients in there (cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, salt, pepper, and celery seed). I shook it up, baby, and twisted and shouted, then poured it onto the slaw mix that I made. 

Now it’s time to apply the sauce. When I was in the store, I was surprised to see that my favorite mayonnaise brand had come out with a line of four BBQ sauces. I bought a bottle of the Tennessee Smoke and Whiskey to try for half of the legs. I also had some of my homemade Honey Bourbon BBQ sauce leftover for the other half. I brushed the sauce on, gave it a spritz of apple juice (thins the sauce, helps hide brush marks), and put them back on the grill for another 15 minutes. 

BBQ chicken legs on the Big Green Egg


The legs with the homemade sauce and Christie Vanover’s Chicken Rub were “eat it right here at the cutting board” good. Alexis and I were doing the “OMG” thing and licking our fingers. The flavor was evenly balanced, not “peaky” like some rubs can be. The sweet of my sauce and the mild smoky heat of the rub were a perfect combo. 

BBQ Chicken Legs featuring Christie Vanover's Chicken Rub
You can hardly see a difference but the leg on the left has the Dukes Tennessee Smoke and Whiskey sauce and the one of the right has my homemade Honey Bourbon BBQ sauce.

Neither of us was as enthusiastic over the Duke’s sauced legs, but that is just a personal preference. The flavor was a little flat, and the smoke flavor was overly pronounced. That may be a synergistic effect because the sauce has natural smoke flavor, and the rub also has smoked paprika and hickory smoke flavor. Alexis pointed out that people who enjoy smoky sauces like Cattlemans might like the Dukes. Like I always say, BBQ and grilling are all about preferences, not rules. 

Christie Vanover's chicken rub spiceology

Christie Vanover’s Chicken, Brisket, and Pork rubs are available online through Spiceology

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