Creating the perfect grilled chicken is something of an art. It seems at one point we have all been faced with chicken that is too dry, raw in the middle, or has a burnt flavor. Ensuring your chicken is moist, juicy, and delicious is really not all that difficult when you follow these easy tips.
Start with the Right Cuts
When it comes to buying chicken, you get what you pay for. Sure, it may be tempting to stock up on family packs of cheap cuts when they are on sale, but you will definitely notice a difference in taste. Splurge a little for quality boneless, skinless breasts and the rest of your job will be easy.
Brine the Bird First
Brining your chicken requires some preplanning, but will result in a bird that is moister, juicier, and tenderer than before. A simple wet brine can consist of water, salt, and brown sugar, or you may also add other ingredients such as soy sauce or olive oil. Allow your chicken to sit in the brine for two to four hours inside your refrigerator, or overnight if covering a whole hen. If you are in a bigger hurry, a dry brine consisting of salt, sugar, and pepper can be rubbed on the skin about an hour or so before grilling.
Wait to Add BBQ Sauce
It’s tempting to slather your chicken with barbeque sauce before placing it on the grill, but doing so could actually ruin the flavor. Most sauces contain some form of sugar, which can crystallize quickly and result in a burnt taste. When your sauce turns a golden brown color, you might also get the false sense that your chicken is finished when it fact it contains spots that are underdone. Wait until your meat is almost cooked through, then use tongs to hold individual pieces while you gently brush them with sauce.
Adjust your Cooking Methods
Many people believe that all forms of chicken should be cooked in the same manner. However, boneless and bone-in chicken require different cooking methods, as do various parts such as wings and thighs. Generally speaking, larger pieces and those with bones will require a longer cooking time and higher heat than smaller sections that do not contain any bones. To avoid confusion, cook only one type of meat at a time, or ensure different cuts are placed on opposite sides of the grill from one another.
Measure the Meat’s Temperature
One way to take the guesswork out of things is to purchase a meat thermometer, and check each piece carefully to ensure it is between 160 and 165 degrees Fahrenheit before taking it off of the grill. When removing meat at a lower temperature, allow it to sit for a few minutes prior to serving so that internal temperatures reach at least 165 degrees.
The next time someone suggests grilled chicken, you don’t have to cringe at the prospect. Keep the above things in mind and your next cookout is sure to be a success.