Have you ever eaten a bad grilled chicken? Whenever I get invited to a cookout, I often find myself asking, “Will they serve grilled chicken?” as if my acceptance of the invitation depends on it. Don’t get me wrong. I love chicken, but only the one that doesn’t look dry and rubbery.
Unfortunately, not everyone knows the best way to grill chicken. Being a delicate protein, chicken is prone to drying out under high temperatures. Unless you use the right grilling techniques, you’ll end up with a boring piece of charred poultry meat.
This is not to say that chicken is the least palatable meat in the barbecue land. A good marinade, special preparation, and proper grilling method will surely change your mind about it. After all, poultry is one of the flexible meats that are easily remedied with and improved.
To achieve juicy white meat that is bursting with flavor, I suggest that you follow this tutorial for the best way to grill chicken.
Best Way to Grill Chicken
What You’ll Need:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced crosswise (about 6 oz. each)
¼ cup of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cup of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of lemon-pepper seasoning
A deep pan or medium-sized bowl for marinating
A gas or charcoal grill
1. Flatten out the chicken breasts first.
Since the thickness of the chicken breasts is not evenly distributed, I advise that you take out a meat mallet or a rolling pin to flatten the meat on a plastic wrap. If you skip this step, you can expect your chicken to be grilled unevenly, leaving the thick part uncooked while the thinnest section is already turning brown and dry.
Give the meat a good pounding, concentrating on the part that is bulkier than the rest. Make sure to keep pounding on the meat only until the bulky section is level with the thinnest portion.
Pro Tip: Place another plastic wrap over the chicken breasts before pounding to avoid countertop mess due to squirting meat juice. Don’t worry; there will still be moisture left in your chicken after pounding. More on this on the next step.
2. Soak the chicken in a special marinade.
After making sure that the chicken’s thickness is evenly distributed, you can now place them in a ziplock bag. Add a mixture of vinegar, oil, lemon juice, and lemon pepper into the bag as its marinade. You can tweak these ingredients according to your preferences, though I suggest not to use too much sugar (if you want yours to taste like honey bourbon BBQ) so that the meat won’t stick to the grill.
Pro Tip: Try infusing dried and fresh herbs such as cilantro and oregano into the marinade for an added kick to your taste buds.
3. Clean your grill grates.
While waiting for the chicken to soak in the marinade, you can kill time by cleaning the grill grates. This will prevent the chicken from absorbing gunk left from the previous barbeque session.
Pro Tip: Burn off the gunk and allow it to cool before scrubbing it down using a wire brush. This is applicable for both gas and charcoal grillers. Afterward, wipe off the excess debris with a moist paper towel.
4. Brush or spray oil on the grill grates.
Oiling helps prevent the chicken from sticking to the grates when being grilled, especially if you’ve used honey or sugar as a marinade/glaze.
Pro Tip: Don’t have an oil spray? You can do greasing by using thongs to hold the towel in place while rubbing it down the length of the grates. Only use oil that has a high smoking point for this.
5. Preheat the grill to medium-high (about 400 °F).
This step helps in avoiding long grilling time that is the culprit in making your meats appear overcooked. When the heat is not enough or unevenly distributed, you end up prolonging the meat’s time over the grill. Chicken, being too delicate, is not spared. It will ruin the quality of the grilled poultry, as well as your appetite.
Pro Tip: If you’re using a charcoal grill, you can gauge its heat by placing your palm five inches above the cooking grate. You can tell if it is medium heat when you can comfortably keep your hand there for 4-6 seconds.
6. Place the chicken and grill for about 5-7 minutes per side.
Once your grill has reached the ideal temperature, it’s now time to cook the chicken. Remove them from the marinade and shake off dripping juice. In case you also want to use the same marinade to glaze over the chicken, you can set aside the liquid for later.
Pro Tip: If the marinade you’re planning to use as a glaze contains sugar or honey, you can wait until the last two minutes of cooking time to do so. This will prevent your chicken from turning toasted brown and sticky.
7. That’s it! Enjoy!
Make sure to let the chicken rest after taking them off the grill. It will give the juices more time to redistribute throughout the meat.
Does this tutorial give you a sudden craving? When I did it myself, I never looked at grilled chicken the same way again. Perhaps it’s time that you give steaks a break and try the best way to grill chicken–all minus the boring texture and taste. Ready to showcase your grilling skills? Let us know in the comments and share this article to help a friend!
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