Recent surveys of Meat Department sales and consumer preferences show that Chicken is gaining in popularity as your favourite grilling protein. Not that it wasn’t always popular, but observers suggest that many folks are eating more Chicken as the price of Beef continues to creep higher…
It’s a good thing that Chicken is such a versatile Grilling Meat. You can marinate it, baste it, brine it or just hit it with some freshly ground Salt and Pepper. And it always tastes great – if properly cooked. But why do we tend to grill mostly Chicken Breasts and Thigh-on Legs? My guess is, it’s just a matter of tradition, or habit, or whatever you want to call it. In fact, I prefer to grill either Breasts or Thighs and leave the Legs for cooking methods that suit them better. There are other considerations when choosing Chicken cuts for grilling which should not be passed over lightly…
Who are you feeding?
If you are feeding family, you can save a little money and cater to individual preferences by buying whole Chickens when they’re on special and freezing them. I think the best way to grill a while chicken is to spatchcock the bird – that is, cut it down both sides of he breast bone removing the bone and flattening the bird to a more or less uniform thickness. It will cook faster this way and more evenly than if you simply roast it on the grill or do the Beer Can thing.
You’ll want to stick your meat thermometer in the Breast (the thickest part) as usual to ensure the internal temperature has reached before 165 F before taking off the grill. Carve the finished Roast into the usual serving pieces for presentation at the tale.
If company is coming, splurge on skinless, boneless Breasts. They’re definitely more expensive than other parts of the Bird but, then, company is special. Here’s an opportunity to give the Meat some fancy treatment such as an exotic marinade or Grilling Sauce.
If it’s just you, consider grilling up a couple of Chicken Thighs. I prefer the Dark Meat, anyway. It’s more flavourful, and comes out more tender and succulent than the white meat every time. And thighs – especially if you buy them skin-on and bone-in, are about the cheapest cut of Chicken you can get. I always get mine on sale, in large ‘family’ or ‘club’ packs, and break them down into freezer bags in meal-sized portions. With skin-on cuts you’ll also get the bonus of crispy, yummy skin!
Cooking it right
One of the most common questions I’m asked about grilling Chicken is, “How do I keep it from coming out charred on the outside and raw on the inside?” I start off cooking by grilling for a few moments, presentation side down, on high, direct heat, to produce the crispy, golden brown finish I prefer and those grill lines everybody likes to see, then turning the pieces over with tongs – gently, so as not to squeeze the juices out of them – and moving them to a cooler part of the grill, over indirect heat for the remainder of cooking.
Resting and serving
As always, when cooking Meats, allow the finished Chickens or Chicken Parts to rest under foil for 5 to 15 minutes after removing them from the grill. This will allow the precious juices to redistribute themselves in the meat for maximum succulence. If you cut into a piece of Chicken too soon, the Juices will run out and the Meat will be tough and dry at the table. We’ve mentioned this about Beef before, but it’s even more important with Chicken, which is more delicate and more prone to losing its Juices.
After you’ve grilled Chicken according to my procedure a few times, it will become second nature to you, and you’ll produce perfect results every time!
~ Maggie J.