When you think of the dishes served by outdoor chefs to their guests, many things come to mind.
Burgers, steaks, chops and hotdogs are the most common. One dish that is a classic but not served frequently is the topic of this week’s column, barbecue chicken.
Why is that? It’s delicious when prepared properly, but a potential series of culinary landmines await those who don’t know the basics when attempting this dish. Different sized pieces creating timing issues, and white meat is typically cooked to the proper temperature prior to the dark meat. Also, the skin is a source of serious flame ups as the chicken cooks, resulting in charred chicken that may not be done on the inside. Ever served chicken that hasn’t been cooked to the correct temperature? Let’s just say it can put a real damper on the party.
So, let’s start off by covering some basics. Then I will explain the technique I use when grilling BBQ chicken.
1. Do not use frozen chicken. Before placing chicken on the grill, make sure it is totally thawed out. This applies to all forms of chicken, even those frozen boneless pieces you get in a bag.
Otherwise, the outside of the chicken is dry and rubbery before the internal sections are cooked through.
(Thaw the chicken out in the fridge. It may take a couple days, but that is much safer than thawing at room temperature.)
2. Wash your hands often and clean surfaces thoroughly with hot water and soap.
3. If you aren’t real comfortable with your grilling skills, try using the same cut of meat. All thighs, all breasts, you get the picture. This way, theoretically, all your chicken will be done at roughly the same time.
4. If you don’t like the skin, try grilling skinless pieces. But, please realize that while you eliminate the major source of flame ups, you are risking a drier piece of chicken at the end.