BBQ FAQ Section 10.4

 

10.4 Grilling Chicken

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[Chicken breasts are a favorite in our family when we grill on the gas-fired BBQ grill. Even though I have a 'non-flaring' grill (the kind with adjustable slats), I still have trouble with chicken breasts flaring up when I grill them. When I remove the skin and fat, no flare ups but the breast meat is dry. I've tried removing the fat and leaving all the skin and part of the skin, but nothing makes to chicken taste as good as when I grill it with the fat and skin in place but my wife hates the black from the flaring fire caused by the burning fat. What do the experts have to say about grilling chicken breasts?]

David Westebbe (EskWIRED)--

I usually use (gasp) Kraft Barbecue Sauce on chicken breasts. It's got a good old-fashioned (as in "when I was a kid") taste.

This is how I do it:

Start the breasts with the skin side up--the coals are too hot at first to put the skin side down. Flip them over after about 15 minutes, and then again after another 15. If the skin is not yet crispy, cook them skin side down some more. You want good, crispy skin. Keep that fire low and don't allow it to flare up.

When you have good skin, brown and bubbly, paint it THINLY with barbecue sauce. Continue to cook it with the skin up until the sauce dries on. Then flip them over and paint the bottom thinly as well. Cook long enough so that the barbecue sauce burns a little bit, and gets nice and caramelized. This will form a nice surface to really slop the sauce onto, so that lots of it soaks into the burned stuff. Continue cooking (skin/sauce side up) until it dries; it should be thick and sweet and gooey. Paint some more on, so that the breasts are shiny; put them on a platter and serve.

This may sound complicated, but it's not. Just cook until the skin is crispy. Put on a thin coat of sauce, burn it, and then slop the sauce on. That's all there is to it. Your guests will rave.

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Garry Howard--

I always grill chicken over indirect heat. There is always going to be grease dripping if the skin is still on the chicken and it will invariably flare up if placed directly over the heat source whether it is gas or charcoal. If you can't grill indirectly you just have to keep a close eye on it.

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David Gerard--

As the song goes . . . "Turn, Turn, Turn" No way to get a good crispy skin without the flare. Try turning it over as soon as flare up occurs. Try using lower heat and maybe the edges of your grill surface. Don't bother trying to par boil to remove fat, all the flavor disappears too.

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Glenn Manning--

In my experience, the black which occurs on chicken comes from two sources: (1) grease fire burning from dripping fat and (2) tomato/sugar-based barbecue sauce which blackens quickly. By far the worst of these is the sauce problem. On most grills, at least the ones I have used, it is possible to adjust the heat high enough so that dripping fat from the skin ignites on the ceramic or lava bricks and burns quickly without accumulating to cause a long term blaze. The downside of the higher heat is that the chicken must be watched closely to keep it turned as needed. You did not mention whether or not you use basting sauce and if so what kind. I can guarantee that if you baste with most store bought barbecue sauce during cooking you will end up with burned chicken if you don't watch it constantly. My wife loves chicken basted with sauce as it cooks. I find that with medium high heat and almost constant basting and turning I can get a golden baked covering of sauce without the blackness which occurs from burning.

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Dave Gomberg--

Here is how I grill chicken on a Weber "take-along" grill (the small rectangular one). Get a good charcoal fire going and reduced to gray, then lay the chicken on the grate. Close the vents in the lid but keep the lower vents open. Cook, turning every five minutes for 20 minutes. Should be crispy, but not blackened. If the fire threatens to go out, open the top vent BRIEFLY.

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Ed Pawlowski--

I've been participating in bulletin board and mailing lists for barbecue and grilling for about three years. NO ONE has come up with a method of doing an honest-to-goodness grilling of chicken. Indirect heat, parboiling, water pans, spay bottles, and many other ideas may result in stopping the flare ups, but they are also not grilling. They are methods of cooking chicken on a gas grill. Live with it or buy a Weber.

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Bad Penny--

Cut and de-skin all of the chicken, raw, into slivers, strips, or small cubes. Skewer the pieces onto long bamboo slivers, (that you'll find in big round packages in the oriental section of any good supermarket or go to a Chinese grocery store). Do not pretend this is shishkebab. Anything else you want to cook at the same time, put on separate skewers. Get your wood or charcoal fire going and let die down to HOT coals. Put the skewers of chicken over the coals on the grill, with an inch or two of bamboo skewer hanging over the edge, where you can get at them without burning your fingers.

These cook fast, so you can serve them as they cook. Turn, turn, turn, turn, until done, add more skewers as done ones come off. As they cook, mop lightly with shoyu, (soy sauce), mixed half-half with water or apple/orange juice. (Actually, what I do is I have the shoyu mixture in a tall jug on the table next the grill, and once or twice, while I'm turning the skewers, I just dunk 'em in the jug). Or make up your own mop using lightly sugared sauces, or just plain Worcestershire and fruit juice. Try cranberry juice by itself. It adds a nice "edge" to chicken.

These only take five minutes or so, depending on how thick your pieces are.

This is a way--and the only way that I know of--to grill chicken without either drying out, or having flare-ups. Juicy and tender, and unburnt. No flare-ups.

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Author unknown--

I don't count as an expert, but I can let you know my easy way to do chicken.

I use a Weber, and bank all the coals on one side. Then keep your chicken cooking indirectly until the last few minutes. When they're done I lay them directly over the hot coals to give them that "grilled" appearance.

I leave the skin on, but peel it back to season it. Peel the skin back and rub a thin coating of oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and some sweat basil. Then fold the skin back over. Place on the rack skin side up (the meatier side). The temperature stays right at 250F and I only turn once or twice. Cooking time is about 1 to 1.5 hours.

This way takes longer than direct grilling, but I don't have to stand over the chicken turning and spraying every 2 or 3 minutes.

BTW, I mixed up an unusual sauce that goes pretty good with chicken and pork. Mix 4 parts Worcestershire, 2 parts raspberry preserves, 1 part Polish mustard, dash of Louisiana hot sauce for some bite. It has a strong sweet and spicy flavor, so a small amount will do a large serving of meat.

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Dave Lineback--

Aside from the grammatical difficulties of "BBQ" being used as an adjective to describe a grill, your technical problems can likely be solved by basting and frequent turning.

I did grilled chicken breasts (with bone in and skin on) last Friday by cooking over very hot charcoal (with pecan and hickory chunks for smoke) without any burning problems. But, they were basted and turned frequently (about every 2-3 minutes). Also, I moved them around on the grill to ensure uniformity of cooking. After 20 minutes of cooking the breasts were perfectly done and as moist throughout as if they had been deep-fat fried.

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Frank Boyer--

To grill large quantities of chicken, I like to cook halves and keep them 18-24" off of the grill. It takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to finish but, it is an easy way to do a 4'x8' grill full of halves. The meat needs to be rotated in and out of the fire a couple of times. This gives a golden crispy skin and juicy meat. On my Kingsford grill I put them on and come back in about an hour and a half. They are slightly dark on the bottom but ready for a glaze.

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John Mitchell--

There is a very good Indian chicken recipe that I use on a grill over direct heat that does a terrific job. You grill skinless boneless breasts that have been pounded to uniform thickness. All the fat is removed. The chicken is then marinated in the juice of fresh squeezed limes (2 or 3 limes), with 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon garam masala or a curry powder, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne and two or three cloves of garlic minced fine.

Let the charcoal settle down with a gray coat. Set the charcoal rack two positions down from the top and lay the breasts on the grill. Flip in three minutes and continue to grill. Flip again for one more minutes heat and transfer to a platter.

Melt butter and dissolve honey in it at a three part butter to one part honey ratio and dredge the cooked chicken in the mixture. Serve. Pour any remaining honey/butter in a small bowl for dipping at the table.

I find this very flavorful and yet the breasts don't blacken as all the fat was removed and there are no flare ups. The sugar, honey, is added after the meat is off the fire.

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Rock McNelly--

All right boys, I've waited to see if anybody else was going to suggest this method for cooking up chicken, but it looks like it's up to me. `Tis a sad, sad day, when I have to be the voice of reason.

I'm going to tell you now, how to cook chicken without ever burning it, and you don't have to keep fussing with it! It aint' grilling, but it doesn't take too much longer to cook it this way, as it does to grill it, and my way will always turn out juicy! Use a Spanek vertical roasting rack. You know, the kind that looks something like a wire-framed flared bell of a trumpet!

Season the whole bird under the skin. Making sure to get it everywhere. No need for wet marinades or mops. If you want, you can add a couple of pats of butter under the skin and on the chicken breasts.

Crank the heat up on the smoker to around 300 to 350F (Higher temps = Juicier chicken). Cram the chicken onto the rack being sure that the loose neck and chest skin is tucked in at the top to keep meat from being exposed to the heated air. Place it sitting up in a pie pan, making sure that there is plenty of room between the bottom of the chicken and the pan.

Place blocks of wood under rack to raise it up about an inch. Reason being is that you want as much air as possible to circulate up through the bird. Then place said pan into your smoker and shut the door and go catch the news or a snooze. Come back in about 45 minutes and add hot fluids to the pan. The reason that you don't add it to begin with is because you want that dry heat flowing through the bird to sear the juices in. The added fluids now are to help with the outer skin. You may if you so choose, baste the bird at this time just to jump start it. I myself don't find it necessary.

Close the door and come back in about 20 to 30 minutes. Shake hands with that ol' bird to see if it's done! It should be pretty doggone close if it's not. This method takes about a third of the normal time to cook a chicken. If in doubt, whip out your handy dandy thermometer and check the inside temperature at the thigh being careful not to hit a bone (180F is done).

When that bird's done, it will be as moist and tender as any bird you've ever had! You won't even need a knife to carve that ol' girl up! I remember when I first saw a demonstration of this method, the guy used a carrot to carve the bird!

I've done a side by side comparison of cooking the bird this way, and while sitting on a half a can of beer. My way cooks faster, and the bird turns out juicier.

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Dave Weeks--

I have been using a fairly large gas grill for several years now. Last year I finally found a technique that produces great chicken on a regular basis.

I marinade the chicken first, typically in a marinade of chicken bouillon, Italian dressing, apple-cider vinegar and a few spices. I get the grill heated to a medium heat, then I turn off the left burner. I use wood chips (soaked, then wrapped in aluminum foil pierced with a fork) on the right side to produce smoke. I cook the chicken, typically chicken breasts with bone or leg-thigh pieces on the left side, with indirect heat for about 40 minutes. I also spray the chicken frequently with a spray bottle filled with water and a little apple-cider vinegar.

At the end of the cooking, I turn the right side back up to high, and move the chicken over to that side to put the "grill lines" everyone expects to see. This may not be the "right" way, but it works for me!

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Martin Graw--

Listed below are three chicken recipes for the grill.

Mardi Gras Grilled Cajun Chicken

Amount

Measure Ingredient Preparation Method

1

teaspoon salt

1

teaspoon cayenne pepper

1

teaspoon paprika

1/2

teaspoon white pepper

1/2

teaspoon black pepper

1/2

teaspoon oregano

1/4

teaspoon garlic powder

1/4

teaspoon onion powder

1/2

cup lemon juice

1/4

cup vegetable oil

4

each skinless boneless chicken breast halves

Combine dry spices in small bowl. In a shallow glass dish large enough to hold chicken in a single layer, place lemon juice and oil. Add half of spice mix; stir to combine. Add chicken breasts, turning to coat both sides. Marinate 30 to 60 minutes at room temperature or 2 to 3 hours in the refrigerator, covered. Drain chicken from marinade and sprinkle both sides with remaining seasoning mix. Place breasts on hot grill with the thin ends away from the flames. Cook, turning once, until just cooked through, 3 to 8 minutes per side, depending on heat intensity and thickness of meat. Makes 4 servings.

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Grilled Tandoori Chicken

Amount Measure Ingredient Preparation Method

1

cup yogurt, plain low-fat

4

cloves, garlic minced

2 to 3

each Serrano chili peppers seeded and minced

2

tablespoons fresh ginger root, grated

2

tablespoons lemon juice

2

tablespoons vegetable oil

1

teaspoon ground cumin

1/2

teaspoon salt

1/2

teaspoon ground coriander

1/2

teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2

teaspoon paprika

1/2

teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4

teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4

teaspoon ground cloves

1/4

teaspoon ground allspice

1/4

teaspoon black pepper

4

each chicken breast halves skinless boneless

Combine all ingredients except the chicken in a shallow glass dish large enough to hold the chicken in one layer. Stir well to mix. Add chicken breasts, turning to coat both sides. Marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. Drain chicken from marinade and place on hot grill with the thin ends away from the flames. Cook, turning once, until just cooked through, 3 to 8 minutes per side, depending on heat intensity and thickness of meat. Do not over cook. Makes 4 servings.

 

Grilled Chinese Chicken

Amount

Measure Ingredient Preparation Method

2

cloves garlic minced

2

tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2

tablespoons hoisin sauce

1/4

cup soy sauce

1

teaspoon sesame oil

1/2

teaspoon fresh ginger root, grated

1/2

teaspoon hot chili paste, or crushed red pepper, to taste

4

each chicken breast halves skinless, boneless

Combine all ingredients except the chicken in a shallow glass dish large enough to hold the chicken in one layer. Stir well to mix. Add chicken breasts, turning to coat both sides. Marinate 30 to 60 minutes at room temperature or 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator, covered. Drain chicken from marinade and place on hot grill with the thin ends away from the flames. Cook, turning once, until just cooked through, 3 to 8 minutes per side, depending on heat intensity and thickness of meat. Makes 4 servings.

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Jim Sposato--

Try grilling the chicken like you always do but have a spray bottle of apple juice to spray the chicken and also keep the chicken (grill) covered during most of the grilling process. I also marinate my chicken breasts in Wishbone Italian Salad Dressing for three hours. No more than 3 hours because the dressing will start breaking down the meat and make it mushy.

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Bill Wight--

While we're on grilled chicken, here is the recipe for some of the best chicken I've ever had. This recipe is from my Pakistani friend's wife Jasmine. They live in Karachi.

Chicken Tikka

Amount

Measure Ingredient Preparation Method

2

pounds chicken legs, thighs or breasts

1

teaspoon salt

1

teaspoon red chili powder

1

teaspoon coriander seeds roasted, ground

2

teaspoons garlic minced

2

teaspoons ginger fresh, grated

2

tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar

1/2

teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
vegetable oil

1

dash red food coloring for traditional color

Remove the skin and make 2-3 deep cuts in each chicken piece. Roast the coriander seeds in a hot cast iron skillet. After cooling, grind to powder. Mix all dry ingredients with the lemon juice or vinegar and make a paste. Put this paste onto chicken pieces and leave them for at least 4-5 hours to marinate. Better if left in refrigerator over night. Rub each piece of chicken with a few drops of vegetable oil. Grill the chicken using indirect heat over hot coals. Grilled over lemon wood coals with some green lemon wood chips thrown onto the coals makes this chicken even better.

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Richard Konkord--

I grill chicken breasts all the time in the summer and I rarely have any flair ups. I have a typical gas grill with ceramic briquettes. These get really hot and retain the heat.

Here is what I do. I leave the skin on and pound the breast between plastic wrap so that it is relatively the same thickness throughout. This helps to cook it faster and more evenly. I try to get them about 1/4 - 1/2" thick. I then drizzle olive oil all over both sides and the sprinkle with oregano and black pepper. Believe it or not but the oil actually prevents the skin from burning and turning black. Sometimes instead of oregano I will put sprigs of fresh rosemary on the hot grill and lay the breasts on top of the rosemary. This adds a really nice flavor to the breast. I get the grill really HOT. Before I add the breasts I dip a clean rag (old tea towel) in olive oil and give the grates a quick rub. Just before I add the breasts I turn down the burner to the low setting. Having the grill really hot quickly sears the skin. I leave it on the skin side for about 2-3 minutes and do not attempt to move them. The skin needs to sear and brown. I then turn up the burner to high and flip the breasts to the meat side. I leave the burner on high for about 3 minutes then turn it down to medium for the remainder of the cooking time which is usually for another 4-5 minutes. I have never had flair-ups using this method especially using the olive oil.

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Vince Vielhaber--

Grilled Chicken you ask? We've always used one of two ways. If were being lazy we just marinade the chicken in Italian Dressing, if not we use this:

Vince's Grilled Chicken Marinade

Amount

Measure Ingredient Preparation Method

3/4

cup lemon juice

3/4

cup white vinegar

1/2

cup water

1

cup Crisco oil

3

tablespoons salt

1/3

cup sugar

1

tablespoon Tabasco sauce

Marinate chicken overnight and grill. It will flare up and about the only thing to do is either keep a squirt bottle nearby or my preference is to keep the garden hose ready and waiting. For production jobs (cooking for a party) we use two grills, one to start the cooking at a slightly higher heat (most of the flare-ups) and one at a lower heat to finish (very few flare-ups). Use your own judgment on when to switch grills - it should come natural even for novices, for some reason it'll just look like it's time. Makes enough marinade for 2 cut-up chickens.

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[Anybody got a good recipe for grilled chicken wings?]

Carey Starzinger--

Famous Kansas Flightless Chicken Wings

Amount

Measure Ingredient Preparation Method

3

pounds chicken wings

1/2

cup Dijon mustard

2

teaspoon olive oil

4

each cloves garlic minced

1/4

cup soy sauce

1/2

teaspoon ground ginger

Cut chicken wings into three pieces and discard the tips. Combine other ingredients in a large bowl. Add wing pieces and stir to coat well. Cover and let stand for 45 minutes. Place wing pieces on the grill and brush with remaining mustard mixture. Grill over medium-hot coals about 15-20 minutes, turning once.

Source: Kansas City Barbeque Society, The Passion of Barbeque

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BBQ FAQ Ver 1.0, 2.0 1997, 1998 William W. Wight. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 25, 1999
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