Everyone loves grilled chicken. It’s a simple meat that is cheap and forgiving to the beginner chef. Of all meats, chicken is perhaps the best suited for marinades and flavorings. It has little flavor of its own, and easily takes on any flavor the chef chooses to apply.
Basics of Chicken on the Grill
Grilling chicken is a relatively simple affair. In fact, many outdoor chefs are able to grill a decent piece of chicken their very first time. A common problem, however, is that most do not know how to take their decent chicken to the next level and make it taste truly amazing. In many ways, the properly butchered chicken breast is an ideal cut of meat. It is a whole muscle, very lean, with a muscle fiber structure that retains moisture when cooked properly. The breast accepts marinades and rubs, absorbing their flavoring and color. Nearly any flavor pairs well with chicken, from paprika to pineapple.
Grilled Chicken Recipes
The best recipe for grilled chicken is no recipe at all. This is not to say that you shouldn’t measure your ingredients, or even use recipes as a guide, but strict adherence to a recipe will tend to impede your success as a chef. The best way to procure delicious chicken on the grill is to begin by deciding what flavor and texture you want. Remember that the best meals have a variety of complementary flavors and textures and plan accordingly.
The Secret of Perfect Chicken on the Grill
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when grilling chicken is that you should not overcook it. Overcooking chicken is easy to do. We have all heard about the dangers of undercooked meat and we want to be sure that no bacteria lingers to wreak havoc on our bodies. Chicken does not have to be leathery in order to be safe. The best way to ensure your chicken is not overcooked is to use a good, leave-in meat thermometer. Insert it into the chicken before you begin grilling, and monitor the temperature until it comes within 2 or 3 degrees of the FDA recommended temperature. The chicken will finish coming to the desired temperature as it rests. Resting is the second most important part of grilling chicken. Any whole-muscle meat needs to rest for about 5 minutes per pound after being taken off the grill. This allows the muscle fibers to relax after the strain of the heat, enabling them to reabsorb moisture and distribute heat evenly. If you cut into freshly grilled meat too early, you will have a puddle of juice around a dry chicken breast.