Please accept my apologies for my long hiatus. Since the blog’s recent success, I’ve been consumed with long negotiation talks with the site owners. The good news is I have signed a new contract with doublefeaturepreachers.com and will commence with regular posting. On the down side, I will continue to blog without financial compensation. Too bad my copy of ‘Art of The Deal’ is on back order. Anyway, back to cooking.
With summer in full swing, it’s a good time for another grilling centric post. If you haven't read my Memorial Day BBQ primer, you can find it here. Hopefully you'll find useful overarching BBQ tips there. Today I'd like to narrow the focus and talk about chicken. I understand this isn't the sexiest of grill topics, but I think that's only because most grilled chicken is terrible. A lot of that has to do with our (not mine) preferred cut, the chicken breast.
Brine time is always fine:
Brining chicken is the easiest way to increase your odds of serving juicy poultry. A quick soak in a salt water bath is all it takes. Brining allows meat to retain more moisture when cooked. If you have a scale, shoot for a 5% brine, e.g. 50 grams salt : 1000 grams water. If you are measuring volumetrically, aim for ~ ¼ cup table salt per quart of water. Don’t stress over being precise. If you want, simply dissolve salt a little at a time until the brine tastes as salty as the ocean.
I usually brine chicken for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on if I’m doing pieces or a whole bird. Submerge chicken in the salt water and brine in the fridge. When ready to cook, make sure to pat dry the chicken with paper towels or clean kitchen towels. It’s important to get the surface as dry as possible to help with browning. The biggest drawback with brining is that it makes it more difficult to achieve crispy chicken skin. To avoid this, consider investing in a quality syringe and inject the brine directly into the bird.
Unless I’m smoking chicken, I don’t fret over cooking temps. It’s the internal temperature that I monitor no matter how I’m cooking, be it indoors or out. Cook breast meat to ~150F and dark meat to ~165F. Keep in mind that food continues to cook after you take it off the grill, so you may want to shoot for a few degrees below your target. If you brined your meat, you have a larger margin for error. It’s simple, but the single biggest thing you can do to improve your grilled chicken is to not overcook it. Makes sense, but it seems that kitchens with instant read thermometers are in the minority. We can change America for the better, one thermometer purchase at a time, one properly cooked dish at a time. Go out and buy one today.
Spatchcock & Beer Butt:
I’ll refrain from the obvious jokes here, but these cooking techniques can improve your grilled chicken game. The Beer Butt chicken seems to be fairly popular. While the reason this cooking method works well is often misunderstood, it does indeed lead to a juicy bird with crispy skin. The vertical orientation is responsible for most of the success here. Half a beer insulated by a whole uncooked chicken is not going to boil. Remember that water boils at 212F and that you are shooting for internal final temps of 150F-165F. Keep that in mind next time your uncle wants to waste a high dollar beer to flavor the bird.
Spatchcock, or better known as ‘butterflied’ chicken, is cooked after removing the backbone and cracking the breastbone (lay it flat breast side up and press down with palm to crack). This technique is not only efficient; it provides more surface area for browning. Sear both sides over hot coals and then finish covered over indirect heat. I like to baste chicken with melted butter mixed with lime juice, minced shallot, chopped cilantro, and a little bit of chili powder. It’s a riff on Ruhlman’s recipe which is great as well. Make sure to generously season your bird with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt though, if you brined.
Just the tips:
The chicken wing may be the best food item on the planet. Crispy skin, chicken fat, and a little meat. I’m willing to bet the golden ratio is somehow involved. While the ideal chicken wing is fried, grilled wings are not far behind. Don’t bother with a brine here. I like to pat dry the wings before salting, and then sear over high heat. I finish the wings covered over indirect heat. The newest trick I’ve incorporated with grilled wings is to remove the wing tips and place them directly over the coals while the wings finish. The dripping fat combust and flavor the wings. So good.
There are my chicken “tips” for a better BBQ. Hopefully you found some of the info useful. Have a great summer grilling, everyone. Again, sorry for the radio silence. My new contract has me posting regularly through September.
Talk to you soon,
Dinner & a Movie
Bringing you food and drinks so that you can make movie night that much more delicious.
"Food is essential for life; therefore make it good"
Shannon does it Julie & Julia style as she cooks through a cookbook and shares thoughts and recipes along the way.