Well we are almost in full bloom down here which means that #1 we are pollinated and #2 the grill is in almost daily use.
Given that it is grilling weather down here I thought I would take today’s post to talk just a bit about a how to for grilling “Yard Bird”. Chicken is probably one of the most grilled meats, next to hot dogs and hamburgers, of the summer. It’s relatively cheap and people like the taste, it’s also a BBQ sauce transportation device, and you know we enjoy BBQ sauce here. You can marinade, dry rub chicken or just use salt and pepper to flavor it. It’s simple to cook but needs attention while it’s on the grill. It can be cooked on the smoker , charcoal grill, gas grill, or electric grill if you so desire. Most oven recipes can transfer directly to the grill with pretty good results. You do not have to reinvent the wheel to cook it. What you do have to do however is practice cooking it and that is what this post is about.
If you do not cook on a grill often or at all or have gotten a “NEW” grill, you’ll need to figure out how it acts when you fire it up. The only way you are going to figure that out is to burn a few items along the way. Quick story here, right after Michelle and I got married “we” (I) invited family over for a cookout. The plan was to grill chicken and sit on the back patio have adult drinks and enjoy the food and company. I bought a few (more than necessary) whole chickens and cut them up. My plan was to grill’em in batches and when they were all done have the party. There were a whole series of bad decisions here: 1. Know how much food you need and do not buy too much more than you can cook. 2. If you are cooking a large quantity of food START EARLY. 3. This is the most important part: make sure they are all thawed out before you start. So they were still frozen, I had too much to cook, and I started cooking when the guests/family started to arrive. In doing so, I left my new wife to talk to people she did not know and I paid a price later….if you know what I mean.
So let’s have a starter recipe to use, something really simple that you can embellish later on as you get the hang of grilling chicken.
Grilling Chicken for Man Food Mondays
- Chicken, either parts or a whole chicken split in half with the innards removed.
- 2 Tbsp oil… I use canola
- 2 tsp Paprika (for the color)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse your chicken and pat dry. Rub with the oil making sure to lightly coat it on all sides. Use salt and pepper and the paprika on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and return to refrigerator till ready to put on the grill. You will grill this until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 on the largest piece of chicken.
Now that part is out of the way lets get started.
What do we need to do to be prepared to feed the masses or just yourself? Plan, a lot at first, and then after the habit is learned it gets easier. Buy your chicken either whole or cut up. You can also buy just breasts, thighs, or leg quarters. If it needs to thaw, do it in the refrigerator over night. If you do not have time to thaw it in the refrigerator over night, thaw it in the packaging or in a plastic bag in cold water. Do this as early as you can. Once it is thawed, you can rub it with oil and put your seasonings on it, cover it with plastic wrap, and return it to the refrigerator till you are ready to cook. Next start your grill. If you are charcoal cooking, then start the coals early enough that they can get gray before you put the chickens on, about 30 minutes. If you’re using a gas grill, start it about 10 minutes before you want to cook and close the lid. My grill has a temperature gauge on the lid, and I look to get the internal temp up to about 375 to 400. With all grills your going to have hot spots and cool spots. This is due to the arrangements of the charcoals in a charcoal grill or the arrangement of the burners in a gas grill. There are many schools of thought on how to check temperature at the grill, I use a digital thermometer called the Maverick ET732. It has a probe that attaches to the grill and measures that way. You can hold your hand over the grill in spots to see how it feels or use a standard dial gauge to check it. Most likely after a few rounds of cooking you’ll be able to determine what is what and maintaining temp on the grill will get easier.
With a charcoal grill build your fire in the center of the grill and once the coals are turning ashen gray move them to one side/end so that the chicken is not sitting directly over them. To start grilling chicken, place the chicken, skin side down, on the side/end away from the coals, this is called indirect cooking, and close the grill. Monitor it for about 1 hour +/- turning at least once half way through your cook. The skin on chicken is full of fat, added that you have lightly coated the birds with oil to hold your spices, you need to watch out for flare-up, FIRE, and be prepared to extinguish those pesky flames be for they turn your grilled chicken into CHARRED chicken and thus uneatable.
With the Gas grill much of what you do for the charcoal grill is the same, except there are no coals to turn gray and you cannot move the burners to one side. You can, however, turn off one or more sets of burners after the grill reaches the desired temp. Again place your chicken on the side that has no flame and close the grill. Check back a little sooner for a gas grill since they seem to maintain temperature better and do not need more coals added. Flare-up are still a problem so be ready to extinguish them when they happen.
I suggest that you do not leave the grill unattended for any length of time while your grilling chicken. Figure on staying close by for the duration, grab an iced tea or other suitable beverage and pull up a chair or two, have your buddies come sit with you and swap lies, sit with your best girl/boy and talk , or throw the stick with the pooch and relax.
Go have fun cooking and let me know how you do.
Until next week.