5 Common Grilled Chicken Mistakes & How to Solve Them
Grilled chicken is a staple at backyard cookouts across the country this summer but far too often it falls flat, whether it’s a lack of seasoning, burnt on barbecue sauce, or (eeeek) undercooked meat. To help step up your reader’s chicken grilling skills, here are five tips for grilled chicken perfection!
- BLAND CHICKEN
Problem: Great grilled chicken starts with proper seasoning but often cooks are too focused on getting it on the grill to properly flavor it.
Fix It: As with any protein, chicken should be liberally (generously) seasoned with either salt and pepper or your favorite BBQ dry rub. Better yet, soak the chicken overnight in a saltwater brine to not only add flavor but also ensure the chicken stays moist.
- BURNT BARBECUE SAUCE
Problem: Barbecue sauce goes great with grilled chicken but it is often added before the chicken hits the grill or as soon as it starts to cook. Unfortunately barbecue sauce is full of sugar which will quickly burn, not only ruining the overall taste but also giving the cook the false sense that the chicken is done.
Fix it: Hold the barbecue sauce for the last 2-3 minutes of the grilling process. Simply sauce both sides using a basting brush, cover the grill, and allow the sauce to set before serving.
- GRILL TEMPERATURE IS TOO HIGH
Problem: Unlike steak, which requires a high heat to sear and quickly cook on a grill, chicken will burn on the outside while not fully cooking on the inside if the heat is too high. Chicken will cook more evenly and thoroughly with a lower temperature.
Fix it: Create a 2-zone fire by placing all of the charcoal briquets on one side of the charcoal grate in order to have a hot side for browning and crisping the chicken and a cooler side to which it can be moved to finish cooking without burning the outside (note: on a gas grill, simply turn the burners off on one side for a cool zone). Once moved to the cool side, simply cover the grill and allow it to come to temperature.
- TREATING ALL CHICKEN THE SAME
Problem: Whether it’s bone-in, boneless, skin-on or skinless, not all chicken grills in the same amount of time. Bone-in, skin on chicken breasts, for example, might take up to 20 minutes to, while chicken legs will take slightly less time, and boneless, skinless thighs can be grilled in a matter of minutes.
Fix it: Select one cut of chicken and stick to it versus offering multiple options. Chicken thighs are a great option for everyone as they are much more forgiving if slightly overcooked.
- RELYING ON LOOKS TO DETERMINE IF THE CHICKEN IS DONE
Problem: Too often, people assume chicken is done simply based on looks. The problem is that while it looks great on the outside, it could still be raw inside, creating a serious health hazard.
Fix it: Investing in an instant read meat thermometer is a sure fire way to know if the chicken has cooked to the FDA approved temperature of 165 degrees F. You can take the chicken off the grill once it reaches 160 degrees F as the temperature will continue to rise slightly even after it is removed from heat. Be sure to let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving so the cooking can complete.
Article courtesy of the culinary team at Chef Works, the leading manufacturer of chef attire for professionals and home cooks alike.