Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Smokin' Thighs Truck Can Sate Your Chicken Jones

Posted By on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 9:28 AM

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Matthew Carney is not a trained culinarian. Like many Nashvillians, he came to town to work in the music industry, but found himself taking a career detour. Noticing what he saw as a gap in the local food truck offerings, Carney bought himself on old Snap-on Tools truck and set about to customizing it. With no experience in a commercial kitchen, he turned to the Nashville Food Truck Association for advice. They were very helpful, but essentially Carney figured most things out for himself.

His big idea was a truck that just served smoked chicken, nothing complicated, nothing fried. He installed a smoker that also serves as a warmer in the truck and a griddle/grill for heating the wings, thighs and legs that he serves off his truck. Smokin' Thighs was born and hit the road last December.

Carney smokes his chicken every morning and is ready to serve by 11 a.m. Tuesday-Thursday. He is a seriously hardworking guy in this one-man operation and usually has two stops scheduled every day that he's open. He maintains a fairly regular schedule of lunch spots and sets up at taprooms like Yazoo and Corsair in the afternoons at 4 or 4:30 for evening service. You can also find him on weekends and at festivals and even order online through ToGoOrder.com.

So how's the food? In a word, excellent. Ordering at Smokin' Thighs is a four-step process.

First you pick whether you want: wings, thighs or drumsticks. Serving sizes are very generous for all three options, with prices ranging fomr $7.75-$8.25. Then you decide whether you want your chicken on the bone, chopped in a pile or served on Texas toast. The third decision is how you'd like it flavored. The mildest option just has dry rub and nicely features the smokiness from the applewood that Carney uses to prepare his poultry. Gringo Good ratchets up the heat level a little bit, and the next step up is Perfectly Awesome, the most popular flavor on the truck. This sauce has a good combination of Cajun seasoning and sweet heat. The hottest level is Hot & Sweet which isn't overpowering, but does have some nice red pepper notes. Finally, you can add toppings like on a pizza to any of Smokin' Thighs chicken dishes. Peppers, bacon, cheese and even pineapple are popular additions.

The list of side dishes is not long, but the portions are healthy, even if the food isn't. The bacon mac and cheese is a very popular choice and has earned its reputation. It's an artery-clogger, but really rich and decadent. Another treat on the truck is the availability of fresh mad Kool-Aid as a beverage. Instead of flavors, Carney just describes the choices as red or purple.

The concept of a very simple menu and no fried foods has earned Carney a legion of followers in his first four months of operation. As hard as he works and as full as his schedule is, odds are good you'll stumble into him somewhere soon. It's not barbecue, and there is no buffalo hot sauce on the truck, so don't fall for those misconceptions. Just try it out and accept Smokin' Thighs for what it is, good chicken done right.

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