People have been cooking chicken in their ovens, searing chicken breasts, chopping up fillets and using them in salads or stir fries… but it’s not very often that you hear about someone grilling a whole chicken. That’s not to suggest that it’s impossible, though – in fact, grilling a chicken doesn’t really require much more preparation than it would preparing it for cooking in the oven.
Grilling a chicken allows for a different experience, not just in the cooking process, but also in the end result. The flavours will be well-contained, the inside will be extra juice and the skin as golden-brown and crispy as you could ever want it to be.
Preparing a chicken for the grill
First, you’ve got to get your chicken. Choose one that, obviously, fits in your grill. Since cooking times are determined by the weight of the chicken and the end temperature, it doesn’t really matter how big it is as long as you can fit it on your grill.
Refrigerate your chicken as soon as its home, putting it on a plate at the bottom shelf so no raw chicken juices drip onto anything else. Wash anything that comes into contact with the chicken thoroughly.
If your chicken is frozen, buy it ahead of time because you’re going to want to thaw it in the refrigerator. You can also thaw it in the microwave if you’re in a rush and planning to cook it as soon as it’s done thawing.
Once all that’s in order, your first step is to marinate the chicken properly for use on a grill.
- Make sure that you marinate the chicken in the fridge. When dealing with chicken, you generally want to minimize the amount of exposure to room temperature.
- Remember that marinades high in sugar will burn easier than those that aren’t. Since we’ll be cooking the chicken at a fairly high temperature, it’s important to keep this in mind.
- Make sure you separate any marinade that you want to use for a sauce aside before putting any raw meat in it.
- Throw out any marinade that you didn’t use so nobody else accidentally ingests raw chicken.
Now, get ready to grease your grill. This is an important process for cooking anything. Honestly, you probably won’t need to grease it too much if you’re cooking the chicken with its skin on, since it’ll turn easily. However, if you’ve marinated it or haven’t oiled it, you’ll have a much higher chance of iti sticking.
Regardless, you should grease your grill before you cook anything on it. Spray it with nonstick spray or soak a rag or brush with oil and make sure you get all over and underneath the grates.
Now, fire up the beast. You’ll want to sear your chicken on a hot grill, because this helps to keep the juices sealed inside, which makes for a much better experienced. Cooking at a high temperature also makes it easier to turn the chicken because seared meat lifts much easier off the grill. Remember to keep the sugar content of your marinade in mind for the step.
- Skinless and boneless breasts usually cook quite well on a very hot grill, and often develop that criss-crossed seared pattern.
- Longer cuts like chicken with the bone still in, or whole chicken, should be cooked at a bit lower of a temperature and not basted until the chicken’s nearing completion.
Make sure to keep the lid of your grill closed while you’re cooking chicken. This better simulates the environment of an oven, while also making it easier for the temperature under the hood to be distributed evenly. This allows you to better ensure that your chicken will cook at the same time, and that it won’t burn.
- Keeping the lid shut also lowers the chance of flare-ups, which is always a concern for people cooking on grills – especially when cooking meat, which contains oils that are highly flammable. This works by restricting oxygen flow.
Remember to be patient when grilling chicken. It’s not uncommon to feel feisty and want to move the chicken around or flip it every two minutes in hopes that you’ll speed up the cooking. Infact, if you let it be, the chicken will cook much more evenly throughout. It’ll also cook faster if you wait until one side is fully cooked before flipping it.
If you have a meat thermometer, your chicken won’t be finished until it has reached a temperature of 180 fahrenheit, if it’s a whole chicken, or 170 degrees, if it’s a cut. If you don’t have a thermometer, the accepted method for doneness is making a small cut out of the thickest part of the chicken (this is best for cuts only – you should definitely get a thermometer for cooking whole chicken) and make sure that there’s absolutely no pink left in the meat.
When you’re done, make sure that you clean up properly. You’re going to want to scrape the grill rack and make sure that there’s no left over bits of burnt chicken stuck to them. If you don’t clean these off, they’ll get stuck to your next meal that you cook on your barbeque.
Some people prefer to oil their grill after using it as well as doing so beforehand. If you choose to do this, make sure you scrape it clean before oiling it or you’ll end up with a bigger mess.
Chicken has been cooked in many ways for hundreds of years, but one of the most underappreciated ways of cooking chicken is also one of the most delicious and rewarding: cooking it on a grill.
It’s not hard to get your chicken ready for cooking it on the grill, but the end result is fantastic. Not only that, but using a grill gives you new opportunities that you wouldn’t find if you were just going to cook your chicken in the kitchen.
Hopefully next time you cook chicken, you’ll consider this and try grilling it!