Tips For Grilling Chicken
To keep the chicken from sticking: grease your grill: Before you light the grill, spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray or brush it with oil. Use a marinade or rub the chicken with some oil.
Keep it hot: sear the chicken on a hot grill — this helps seal in the juices and makes it easier to turn over the chicken. Finish cooking over indirect heat.
Indirect Heat: cooking with indirect heat occurs when you use an area of the grill that is not directly over the heat source. Using indirect heat slows the cooking process down, which allows the center of the cut to cook thoroughly without burning the outside. On charcoal grills, coals are pushed to one side of the grill or banked into a ring around the outer edges. On gas grills, the side of the burner, which is below the area where the food will be placed, is turned off after the grill is preheated. Using one of the indirect setups will provide an area on the grill that is a low heat source. The meat is placed over the area in which there are no coals or over the burner that is turned off on a gas grill. Indirect heat is good for cooking whole chickens or larger pieces, such as a full chicken breast.
Direct Heat: cooking with direct heat occurs when you cook the meat directly over the heat source. The chicken is cooked quickly over medium or high heat coals or over burners set to medium or high heat on a gas grill. Direct heat is used when grilling food that cooks in 30 or less minutes, such as boneless chicken breasts and small chicken pieces.
Watch seasonings carefully: marinades and basting sauces, many of which have a high sugar content, will burn if the grill temperature is too hot or if exposed to heat for too long. A hot grill is normally not a problem with quick-cooking cuts (such as skinless, boneless breasts); longer-cooking cuts (such as bone-in chicken parts) should be cooked over a lower heat. And don’t start basting until the chicken is almost fully cooked.
Close the top: if your grill has a cover, always cook your chicken with the cover down. It will make your grill more oven-like and your food will cook more evenly. Also, because the cover cuts off some of the oxygen, you’ll have fewer flare-ups.
Be patient: resist the urge to continuously move the chicken around while it cooks. The chicken will cook more evenly and more quickly, if you follow the recipe cooking instructions or turn it over only once midway through the grilling.
Use the right utensil: use long-handled tongs or a wide metal spatula to move the chicken. Poking it with a fork will cause juices to escape.
Test for doneness: don’t risk serving undercooked chicken. When in doubt, make a small cut into the thickest part so you can be positive that it’s no longer pink inside. You can also use a meat thermometer to check if your meat has reached a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Let the chicken rest so that juices can be redistributed. The cooking process continues for 5-10 minutes.
Be sure to clean up: scrape your grill rack after each use; otherwise, the chicken will pick up charred bits from your last barbecue. Chicken has a tendency to stick to a dirty grill.
Promote good hygiene: proper hand-washing — 20 seconds with hot, soapy water — is absolutely essential before and after handling raw chicken.
Protect against cross-contamination: place the package of raw chicken in a plastic bag to separate it from other groceries. Take it straight home from the store and refrigerate immediately (35 to 40 degrees F). Set wrapped raw chicken on a plate on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so juices don’t drip onto other foods. Always thoroughly wash cutting boards, knives, utensils, and countertops after they come in contact with raw chicken. Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw chicken.
Make seasoning safe: always marinate in the refrigerator. If using a marinade as a basting or dipping sauce, set aside a portion before adding the raw food. Wash basting brushes with hot, soapy water after using on chicken. Discard leftover marinade that comes in contact with raw chicken, or bring to a boil for 1 minute before serving.
Refrigerate or cook: thaw chicken in the refrigerator; never leave it at room temperature. Never partially grill and finish cooking later; cook completely to destroy harmful bacteria.
Master Recipe for Grilled Chicken
If your gas grill has a smoke box that sits on or between the burners, put wood chips in it to give your chicken some smoky flavor. Or wrap some wood chips envelope-style in heavy-duty foil. Poke holes in the top and set it on the grill grates to produce some smoke.
- 1 whole chicken (4-5 lbs), butterflied
- 1 cup apple juice for basting
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons minced dried onion
- 1 tablespoon seasoned salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1-1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper
Combine all the ingredients and blend well.
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon onion salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 2 cups tomato ketchup
- 1 cup peach preserves, pureed
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons butter, cubed and well chilled
In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the butter. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Partially cover with the pot lid to protect yourself and your kitchen from any sputtering. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. With a whisk, blend in the butter cubes, a couple at a time, until incorporated.
Butterfly the chicken: remove the backbone, flatten the breastbone and tuck wings behind back. Using hands or handle of wooden spoon, loosen skin over breast and thighs and remove any excess fat. Pat the chicken with paper towels to dry. Sprinkle on the rub generously, rubbing it under the skin also.
Using a chimney starter, light 40 to 50 pieces of good-quality lump charcoal. When the coals are glowing, transfer them from the chimney to one side of the grill. Leave one side of the grill empty. (If you don’t have a chimney starter, stack the charcoal around some crumpled newspaper in a pyramid in the grill and light the newspaper. The coals will be hot in 20 to 30 min.) Place chicken skin-side down over cooler side of grill with legs facing the fire and cook until skin is lightly browned and faint grill marks appear, about 22 minutes. Baste the chicken with some of the apple juice several times during the cooking process. Using tongs or towel, grip legs and flip chicken (chicken should release freely from grill or use a thin spatula to loosen if stuck) and transfer to hot side of grill, skin-side up, breast facing into grill. Cover grill and cook until chicken is well-browned, about 12 minutes.
Heat one side of the grill to very hot and arrange the chicken on the other side. Close the lid and maintain the temperature of the grill between 230° and 250°F. Baste the chicken with some of the apple juice several times during the cooking process. Using tongs or towel, grip legs and flip chicken (chicken should release freely from grill or use a thin spatula to loosen if stuck) and transfer to hot side of grill, skin-side up, breast facing into grill. Cover grill and cook until chicken is well-browned, about 12 minutes
Finishing the Chicken
Cooked chicken should read 165°F in the meatiest part of the thigh or breast. You’ll also know the chicken is done when its juices run clear after being sliced into with a knife.
When the chicken is cooked, pour some of the barbecue sauce into a separate container (to avoid contaminating the whole batch) and brush it onto the chicken. Cook it an additional few minutes so that the sauce adheres to the chicken as a sticky glaze; watch the chicken carefully at this point and pull it off the grill if the sauce starts to burn. Remove the chicken from the grill, let rest for 5 -10 minutes on a platter and serve with some of the barbecue sauce on the side.
Grilled Chicken and Asparagus Salad
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3)
- 1/3 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- Fresh-ground black pepper
- 1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and discarded
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 cups loosely packed parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 heads Bibb lettuce (about 1 1/2 pounds in all), torn into bite size pieces (about 4 1/2 quarts)
Light the grill and heat to medium. Coat the chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Grill the chicken for 5 minutes. Turn and cook until just done, about 4-5 minutes more. When the chicken breasts are cool enough to handle, cut them into bite-size pieces.
Toss the asparagus spears with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus, turning occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes, depending on the width of the spears. Cut the spears into 2-inch lengths.
In a blender, combine the garlic, water, parsley, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/3 cup oil. Puree until smooth, scraping down the side of the blender with a spatula as necessary.
In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, toss the lettuce, chicken and asparagus with half the vinaigrette. Put the salad on plates. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the salad, if desired.
Fennel Garlic Chicken Legs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
- 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 4 whole chicken legs (12 to 14 ounces each)
In a mortar, pound the garlic, fennel seeds, oregano and crushed red pepper with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt until a coarse paste forms. Add the 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil. You can also use a mini processor.
Make four 2-inch slashes on the skin of each chicken leg, cutting to the bone; make 2 slashes on the underside of each leg. Rub the paste into the slashes, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Light a grill. Brush the chicken with oil and season with salt. Grill over moderate heat, turning, until lightly charred and cooked through, 25 minutes.
Grilled Chicken Breasts with Lemon and Thyme
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 4 bone-in chicken breasts (about 2 1/4 pounds in all)
Light the grill. In a shallow dish, combine the lemon juice with the thyme, red-pepper flakes, garlic, oil, salt and black pepper. Coat the chicken with the mixture. Let rest for 30 minutes.
Grill the chicken breasts over moderately high heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Turn and cook until the chicken is done (165 degrees), about 10 minutes longer.
• Try any dried herb you like in place of the thyme: marjoram, oregano, rosemary or sage are all good choices.
• Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of bone-in breasts. Grill them about five minutes per side over moderately high heat.
• Use a quartered chicken instead of bone-in breasts. Cook the breast sections as directed above and allow 13 minutes per side for the leg quarters.
Grilled Chicken Thighs with Sweet Onions and Peppers
This dish is good at room temperature also.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 red onions, thinly sliced, lengthwise
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet red bell peppers stemmed, seeded, sliced lengthwise
- 1/2 cup Ruby Port
- 1/3 cup drained capers
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 12 chicken thighs (6 to 8 oz. each)
- Olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
In a large pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add onions and peppers, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very juicy and almost soft, 16 to 20 minutes. Add the Port, capers and thyme; cook uncovered, stiring often, until all the liquid has evaporated and vegetables are very soft and beginning to brown, 25 to 35 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
You can do this early in the day and wrap the pepper mixture in heavy duty foil, sealing tightly; heat the packet on the grill while cooking the chicken.
Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) and oil the grates. After preheating, turn one side of the grill off.
Brush the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Lay thighs, skin down, on the direct heat side of the grill. Cover and grill for 5 minutes on each side. Move the chicken to indirect heat. Cover and grill an additional 5 minutes on each side or until done.(165 degrees on a meat thermometer.)
Transfer to a platter. Spoon onion-pepper mixture over chicken and sprinkle with parsley.
- Rosemary Lemon Grilled Chicken (mouthbrothels.wordpress.com)
- Grilled Chicken Gyros (pickfreshfoods.com)
- Grilled Chicken (justbecauseilovefood.wordpress.com)
June 6, 2013 at 9:30 am
Ha – I got a pair of chicken breasts out of the freezer this morning – must have had a premonition about your post! Going with the lemon and type marinade.
June 6, 2013 at 9:31 am
June 6, 2013 at 3:16 pm
That was seriously lovely – thanks. Assume the 300 minutes marinade time was a typo 😉
June 6, 2013 at 9:32 am
June 6, 2013 at 3:27 pm
It sure was a typo and one I didn’t catch. Will fix. Thanks so much for letting me know.
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