1.The amount of chicken legs you desire to prepare/serve. In the case of this recipe, we prepared 26 legs.
2.Your favorite rub/seasoning. For this presentation, we utilized "Thriller Rub" from Flaps20.
3.Your favorite BBQ Sauce. For this presentation we coated half of the legs in "Texas Pepper Sauce" (Flaps20) and the other half in "Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce" (Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse)
Preparing the Chicken Lollipops can be tedious and time consuming; but rewards of excellent flavor and presentation out weigh this. You'll want to clean the legs and pat them dry.
1. Using a sharp knife, cut the top of the leg (bone and all) to create a level surface; this will allow the lollipops to stand upright during the cooking process.
2.Using a sharp knife, cut completely around the lower part of the leg just below the knuckle; be sure to cut through the skin and tendons to release all of the meat.
3.Push the meat downwards to create the "lollipop" look. The leg bone now becomes exposed; thus creating the "stick" of the lollipop. Pushing the meat down can be somewhat difficult. Some recommend using a dish towel or paper towel to provide a better grip.
4.Be careful as you will find a tiny bone right against the leg as you push the meat down. Take the time to remove this bone; by hand or sheers. Trim away the tendons sticking out of the top.
Generously season all sides of each leg with your favorite rub/seasoning. We chose "Thriller Rub" from Flaps20; the blend of herbs and spices paired well with our entire meal.
There are several ways to place the lollipops on your smoker/grill. You can utilize a chicken leg rack, disposable aluminum pan, or place them directly on your grates; any of these options will work. For this time, we selected the disposable pan route.
Prior to placing the lollipops in the pan, we melted a stick of butter and coated the bottom of the pan. We heard that this would render flavor and moisture. To be honest, we really couldn't tell which means the bitter did not detract from the overall flavor or juiciness; but we had no proof that it added value. So experiment with this.
Using your favorite pellets (Hickory is our go to), wood, or charcoal, prep your grill and bring the heat to 300 degrees.
Prior to placing the lollipops on the smoker/grill, you can cover the knuckle of each leg with a small piece of aluminum foil; this will keep the end from turning a dark color during the cook. This is not a requirement, just for aesthetics.
Allow your legs to cook for approximately 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
Upon reaching the 160 degree mark, remove the legs to dip each in your favorite BBQ Sauce. We chose to coat half with the "Texas Pepper Sauce" from Flaps20, and the other half with a "Dr. Pepper Sauce" we picked up at Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse during a recent trip to Scottsdale, AZ.
In the photo above, you will noticed we used a cooling rack to return our sauced lollipops to; this allows the excess sauce to drip to the bottom of the pan. (Not a requirement). Place your lollipops back on the smoker/grill until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees, and the sauce is nicely caramelized.
Serve your Lollipops as appetizers at your next party or get together; or with your favorite sides for a meal. Experiment with variations of the recipe. We've prepared them wrapped in bacon, and also with just a rub/seasoning. With your imagination and desire, the sky is the limit! Enjoy!