But just because you prepare chicken all the time doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the same outcome on the more temperamental grates. Here are some handy tips to help keep your chicken juicy, flavorful and safe to eat, from start to finish!
Pictured: Grilled Beer-Brined Chicken
Throw any notions you may have of brining being intimidating out the window because the process couldn’t be simpler. Introducing a salt and sugar solution will get you that much closer to ensuring a succulent bird, a protein notorious for getting dried out when cooked. We like this straightforward Epicurious solution that has chicken parts brining, covered and chilled, for 6 hours before hitting the grill and enjoyed with an Asian-style vinaigrette.
Photo courtesy of Spinning Things via Flickr/CC
Mind the Heat
Prepare your grill in two zones: direct and indirect. Whether it’s charcoal or electric, you’ll need varying levels of heat to get the desired crust on the outside while having enough time to achieve cooked through, tender meat on the inside.
Photo courtesy AmazingRibs.com
Keep it Dry
One important thing to remember when grilling whole pieces of meat (ie: not ground burger meats or sausages) and fish is to keep the surface dry. Patting out any excess surface moisture with some paper towel will prevent a steam situation, giving you that nice, even sear and of course, those praiseworthy grill marks! If you’re working with a wet marinade, just make sure to wick off any excess before placing gently on a hot, lightly greased grill.
Photo courtesy RecipeTips.com
Step away from the grill. Exercise supreme patience and resist the urge to prod your meat! You should only touch it to turn it once (time depends on whether the pieces are boneless or not). If you move it too early, you’ll suffer chunks of meat sticking and burning on the grill grates. Make sure you don’t crowd the grill either; otherwise the meat will steam.
Photo courtesy Eric Kilby via Flickr/CC
Unlike beef, chicken should be fully cooked to avoid any risk of dangerous salmonella. Using a trusty thermometer will make it easy to monitor your pieces. According to the USDA, all parts of the bird are safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. This does not account for carryover cooking, which just means that the internal temperature will continue rising up to 10 degrees when taken off the grill and left to rest under a foil tent.
Photo courtesy Steven Jackson Photography via Flickr/CC
Give it a Go!
Now that you’re armed with tips, it’s time to practice your prowess on the grill. Here are some great recipes to get you started.