Learning how to grill chicken is one of the more difficult grilling skills to master. Chicken can be rather temperamental, burning quickly on the outside, staying raw on the inside and drying out all over.
Grilled chicken remains popular, in part, because it's as versatile on a grill as it is anywhere else. You can grill breasts, legs or wings. You can grill your chicken whole, filleted, sliced or skewered. You can grill it alone or mixed with other foods. You can marinate, rub, sprinkle or baste the meat for extra flavor.
Grill fully thawed chicken only, and keep the chicken refrigerated until it's time to cook. Don't marinate or brush sugary coatings, such as BBQ sauce, on the chicken before cooking. This will just cause burning. You need to wait until the chicken is almost done cooking before applying these types of sauces.
Before grilling your chicken, you need to make sure it doesn't stick to the grill. Remove the grill rack, and cover it with a light coating of oil or cooking spray. Place the rack back on the grill, and you're ready to cook.
Make sure to scatter the coals evenly in your grill. This will help provide even heat for grilling the chicken. You want to place the grill rack anywhere from 6 to 10 inches above the coals, depending on what you're cooking.
Chicken should be grilled over low to medium heat to keep it juicy. Slow cooking works best. Heavily seared chicken will just leave you with charred skin and a raw middle. You can start your chicken over high heat, but most of the cooking should be done over indirect, low heat.
Most large pieces of chicken can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to cook. Whole, thick-cut chicken or chicken with bones will take longer to cook than separated, thin-cut or boneless chicken.
The trick to creating perfect grilled chicken recipes is to use a meat thermometer. Undercooked chicken can lead to all sorts of medical complications, as well as an upset tummy. Overcooked chicken can lead to all sorts of taste problems, as well as an upset tongue. When the juices from the chicken run clear and the thermometer reads 185 degrees, you know the meat is fully cooked.
Grilled chicken needs to sit for a few minutes after it's removed from the grill and before it's served. Like all meats, the juices need to cool a little inside the flesh. If you cut open super-hot meat, the juices run right out, and you end up with a dry entrée.
Cooking a beer can chicken for your next get together is not only an entertaining experience for family and friends; it results in a tender and juicy bird as well.