Unlike steaks or burgers, cooking chicken on the grill can present some interesting challenges, but with some preparation and practice, you can master the art of barbecuing poultry.
The Heat is On
Usually when one is grilling, one wants the grill to be at a moderate temperature. This is so the meat will cook at a good slow pace, giving the inside time to cook before the outside becomes burnt. This works well with steaks, burgers, and chicken recipes, but it takes some careful tending. You must be sure not to open the grill top too often or all of your built up heat will escape and the chicken will take longer to cook.
Other times, you want the grill temperature to be rather high on one side of the grill and no heat on the other side of the grill. This is a great way to smoke your dinner, but it is also a great way to slowly cook a piece of meat that needs a long time to cook, like say pork or a piece of chicken.
The problem that most people run into with cooking chicken on the grill is that they use too much heat and char the outside before the inside even starts to cook. There are a few ways around this issue. One is to smoke the chicken. This can take a while, but it will result in a well-cooked and fabulously flavored chicken.
There are a few things that you do not want to do. That would be to get your fire going too hot or set your grill too high. This will cause your chicken to char on the outside before it cooks on the inside. The other thing you definitely do not want to do is coat your chicken with a barbeque sauce that is mostly tomato and sugar. This kind of sauce will burn during cooking and should only be slathered onto your food just before it is done or served in a bowl so your guests can add as much as they like.
If you want to add flavor to your chicken as it cooks, you can use a spice rub, sometimes called a dry rub, or you can use a mop that would involve using a vinegar-based sauce. Vinegar-based sauces do not burn like sugar/tomato-based barbeque sauces, so you can baste your chicken with them all you want. You can also use a marinade or a brine to get some extra flavor into your chicken.
This brine should be enough to work with two whole chickens cut into pieces.
- ½ cup of salt
- 1 ½ cups of sugar
- 2 quarts of water
- Dissolve the sugar and salt in the water.
- You might want to heat the water but this is not necessary.
- Immerse the chicken in the liquid and refrigerate it overnight.
Chicken on The Grill
- Once the chicken has soaked in the brine overnight, remove it from the brine and pat it dry.
- Start a fire in your grill.
- If you are using a coal grill, set up a larger pile of coals on one side of the grill and a smaller pile of coals near the center, leaving one side of the grill with no coals at all.
- If you are using a gas grill, turn all the burners to high and heat the grill for 15 minutes with the lid down until the grill is very hot.
- Then, turn one burner off and the middle burner to medium low.
- If your gas grill has only two burners, then leave one on high and the other on medium low.
- Cook the chicken parts as follows:
- Using the high heat side of the grill, sear the legs and thighs for 2 minutes per side.
- Sear the breasts 3 minutes per side.
- Move the chicken parts to the cooler part of the grill and close the grill lid.
- Turn the pieces occasionally, but keep the lid closed as much as possible.
- If you like, you can mop the chicken with a vinegar-based sauce as the chicken cooks.
- Test the chicken for doneness by using an instant read thermometer.
- Cook the chicken to 170 degrees.