News and Tribune

March 29, 2014

BBQ MY WAY: How to properly grill a chicken breast

BBQ My Way

— I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking ... really? This is the topic of this week’s column? How to grill a freakin’ chicken breast?

Hear me out.

Have you ever had this experience? Someone invites you to their home for a cookout and grilled chicken is on the menu, specifically chicken breast. How often have you had a grilled chicken breast that wasn’t on the dry side with sections of skin reduced to crunchy, black carbon?

If you follow my procedure you can invite these same people over and show them how a real outdoor chef grills a moist, succulent chicken breast that is tender and melts in your mouth. Or, you can grill them up, place them in the fridge and use the breasts in different dishes throughout the week.

Let’s get started.

Set your grill for indirect heat. If using gas, leave one or two burners on the side of the grill turned off and turn the others to high. If using charcoal, place a big pile of hot coals on one side of the grill. With the charcoal grill, clean the grill surface over the coals with a wire brush. Now flip the grill surface around so the other end is over the coals.

Once it has become hot, clean it with a wire brush as well. Whether gas or charcoal, take a big wad of paper towel and drizzle vegetable oil on it. Quickly rub down the grill surface with the paper towel to help reduce sticking.

Typically I like the bone-in split breast with the skin. Set the breasts out one-half hour prior to putting on the grill. Season with salt, pepper and a little granulated garlic. Place the breasts on the side of the grill opposite the flame or coals. Place the lid on the grill. If using charcoal, place your vents at 50 percent closed and move the vent portion of the lid directly over the chicken to promote a swirling heat inside the grill. You will allow these to cook for roughly 20 minutes to half an hour depending on the size of the breast pieces.

Basically, you have created an outdoor oven.

After 30 minutes or so, check the temperature of the meat with a thermometer without touching the bone. They should be at 130 to 140 degrees.

Move the chicken directly over the heat. If you are grilling with skin on, you will get flaming. You will need to stay with the chicken and turn frequently. If the flame is out of control with charcoal place the lid on with the grill with all vents closed to kill the flame.

The grilling over the direct heat is what creates the color and provides the texture and shouldn’t take much longer than five to seven minutes. Once you like the look of the chicken and the thermometer reads between 155 and 160 degrees, pull them off the grill and allow to sit for five minutes or so.

If not serving immediately, let them cool a bit and put in a freezer bag and place in the fridge. Use the chicken through the week to make great tossed salads for lunch, creamy chicken salad or use in pasta dishes or enchiladas.

It’s a great thing to eat during the week for a number of healthy, tasty meals.

— Dave Lobeck is an Edward Jones Financial Advisor in Jeffersonville by day and a BBQ enthusiast on nights and weekends. Liz is his wife. He is also a Kansas City Barbecue Society judge. You can contact Dave with your BBQ and grilling questions at