Few things wake up the flavor of chicken like roasting on a grill.
Now, the actual steps for grilling chicken are pretty simple and straightforward: select the right grilling method for your cut of chicken, heat up your grill to the right temperature, then grill it to your desired doneness – all of which are provided here.
However, it's the special, little things you do along the way that really make the difference between great eats and a dinner gone wrong...
Here are six tips to put you on the path to grilling up chicken so succulent you won't be able to stop licking your fingers once it's gone.
- If you have a few extra dollars in your wallet splurge on free-range or premium chicken. Big brand and supermarket name chickens may be bigger, leaner, and cheaper – but that less-fatty extra mouthful of meat and low, low price come at a cost: a HUGE loss of flavor. In fact, most of them are downright bland. And while grilling will draw out and increase what flavor they do have by leaps and bounds, free-range chicken is so much firmer and flavorful to begin with that grilling it will deliver you an unmatched a taste-sensation.
- When grilling a whole chicken truss it first. A little butcher's twine and 3 minutes of time can work a boatload of magic and is well worth the ounce of effort. Trussing a chicken ensure the entire bird cooks evenly - giving you an eye-catching dish that's tender and juicy down to the last bite. Do you have to truss a whole chicken? No, but don't blame us if you end up with breasts as tough as rubber by the time its legs and thighs are done...
- For bone-in breasts, legs, or thighs use indirect heat. Bone-in pieces require much more time to cook. Don't try to rush them along by using direct heat – otherwise you'll end up with chicken that's about as moist and appetizing as tree bark.
- For boneless breasts, legs, or thighs use direct heat. Since they take much less time to cook they DO allow you to use direct heat to your advantage – namely crisp, golden outsides while still maintaining a pink, moist juicy middle.
- Avoid the dreaded black char – don't add sauces until the last 5 minutes of grilling. Sugar burns. It burns fast. Add barbecue or other sauces at the start of cooking and you're just asking for a nasty, black, char-breaded chicken by the time you're done grilling. Instead, apply it during the last 5 minutes of grilling – that'll be enough time for the sauce to warm up but not burn. Then, if you want to caramelize the sauce a bit more you can leave it on a few minutes longer while keeping a close eye on it.
- Don't be afraid to take out a little extra 'moisture' insurance. If you're really worried about your chicken drying out, then seal in the juices and provide a little extra moisture by spreading a little butter or cheese UNDER the skin before grilling. For extra flavor you can even mix some herbs into the butter first. Just be sure to place a drip pan under the chicken to avoid any flare ups caused by any butter or cheese that drips out.
And there you have it, six tips for juicy, lip smackin' grilled chicken. Now, how about passin' the drum sticks...