How to grill chicken – the rules you need to know for the perfect juicy meat
How to grill chicken meat? How to buy chicken? How to store it and marinade it? We shall give you the answers of all these questions and the rules you need to know for the perfect juicy grilled chicken. Chicken can be cooked in many different ways. For example, boil, roast in the oven, fry and, of course, you can cook it on the grill.
Chicken is the most consumed product in the world. Its popularity is due to both delicate taste, ease of preparation, and the affordable price – chicken is much cheaper than beef or pork. It is tasty, nutritious, contains many vitamins and minerals, essential amino acids, and it is also a valuable source of animal protein. In addition, chicken meat belongs to the category of dietary products, so you can consume it and not worry about your weight
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How to grill chicken- rules for choosing and storing chicken meat
You can buy chicken meat in any supermarket. However, there are some simple rules that you need to know. When choosing a chicken, first of all pay attention to its temperature processing. Usually, on the shelves of supermarkets chicken can be found in three varieties:
- chilled (with a temperature of -2 to +4°C);
- frozen (from -12°С and lower);
- deep freezing (from -18°C and lower).
It is best if you buy chilled chicken or cuts. Pay attention to smell, color, size and packaging.
Color – the skin of a high quality product is clean, the color is pale yellow with a pink tint, and without bruises. High-quality breast meat has a pleasant pale pink color. Long-stored product loses moisture and becomes dark pink. If you notice any gray-ish parts, do not buy the meat. Fresh legs and thighs meat, in contrast to the breast, has more intense pink color.
The smell is essential – any bad odor is a signal that you must not buy the meat. Unscrupulous sellers disguise the signs of poor quality under the marinades with a lot of spices. Of course, not everyone does this, but do not be lazy, buy a chilled bird and marinade it yourself.
Check the package! Chilled poultry is sold packaged in plastic bags or on trays wrapped with cling film. It is important that the package is intact, has a label where the expiration date, storage conditions, food and energy value of the product are described.
How to choose frozen chicken? You have to know that in the process of freezing chicken meat loses some of its nutritional properties. This is due to the fact that ice crystals destroy the cell wall, which leads to the loss of not only water but also minerals and vitamins. When defrosted, the meat is not as elastic and firm as the chilled meat and loses its pleasant taste and aroma.
Last but not least, we have to mention the proper way to store chicken meat at home. Chilled bird is stored from the moment of its production for up to 5 days at a temperature from 0°C to +2°C. Keep in mind that household refrigerators are usually set to +4°C +6°C, and you need to add the time for transportation and delivery to the store and the time of display. It is not advisable to store chilled chicken at home for more than two days. Always check the expiration dates! It is best if you cook chilled poultry on the day of purchase. Frozen poultry in a package at -18 ° C (temperature in the freezer) can be stored for up to 12 months.
How to grill chicken – step by step instructions
We come to the main question – how to grill chicken meat? Obviously, different cuts require different cooking time, and when you want to grill a whole chicken, you need to follow different rules. If you bought chilled meat, it can be marinated and cooked, but if you bought frozen one or frozen cuts like legs or wings you need to know how to properly thaw the meat and proceed further.
Rule 1 – Thaw chicken. This is, perhaps, one of the most common mistakes that people make. Before cooking, any meat must be thawed properly, even if this is an ordinary chicken breast. Never place the chicken directly on the grill because instead of a juicy dish you will get something firm that tastes like rubber. To have tender meat that melts in your mouth you have to thaw the chicken properly. The slower the thawing, the less nutrients will be lost. It is recommended to defrost meat in the refrigerator. Put it in suitable container and let the ice crystals melt slowly. In this way a part of the moisture formed will be absorbed into the muscle fibers. If it is necessary to defrost the meat quicker, leave it for 2-3 hours at room temperature. Do not thaw meat in hot water or in a warm place, as in this case it will lose its beneficial properties and its taste will deteriorate. Wash the meat only in large chunks and best of all under running cool water.
Rule 2 – Season the meat. Do not ignore seasoning with spices. Many people mistakenly think that if you cook a dish on the grill, you do not need spices and marinades. This is completely wrong. If you want to make a delicious lunch or dinner we advise you not to forget about spices. It is best if you season the meat and leave it in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours. During this time, it is completely saturated with salt, pepper or other seasonings and will be very soft and juicy.
Rule 3 – Clean the grill. Before firing up the grill, it is necessary to clean the grill grate. It is better to make it a special brush, and then wipe the grille with a damp cloth.
Rule 4 – Grease the grill grate. Most likely, you will not have a problem with meat sticking to the grill, if you used marinade or oil. However, it is better not to take risks and grease the grill with oil before placing the meat.
Rule 5 – Do not glaze too early. Grilled chicken is perfectly complemented by e delicious and fragrant sauce. Usually, sauces are not just served with the finished dish, but are added during the cooking process to make the dish more delicious. However, you need to be careful. If your marinade or glaze contains sugar, it will caramelize and eventually burn, if you glaze the chicken too early. To avoid that, gently glaze the chicken 2–3 minutes before it is ready.
Rule 6 – Do not cook chicken at high temperatures. High temperature is suitable for steaks, but not for tender poultry meat like breasts, for example. If you grill a chicken on high heat, it is likely that it will get a beautiful crust and even burn, and the inside will not cook at all. Therefore, we advise you to cook chicken at an average temperature and then the meat will be very juicy and tasty. Strong heat helps to “seal” the juices in the meat and is suitable for relatively small pieces without bones.
Rule 7 – Be patient. Resist the temptation to constantly move and turn the chicken during grilling. It will cook more evenly and quickly if you follow the instructions in the recipe or turn the meat over once every half the time required for cooking.
Rule 8 – Not all chicken parts are cooked the same way. Cooking times for different parts of chicken vary significantly. It depends on many factors. Bones and skin also play a role. There is not a universal recipe and cooking time. We shall give you some cooking times but you should keep in mind that these are more or less guidelines.
Boneless skinless chicken breast halves are cooked for 5-7 minutes, flipped and cooked for additional 5-7 minutes or until a thermometer reads 165°F/75°C.
Chicken wings are grilled over medium heat for 20 – 25 minutes until the meat is no longer pink at the bone and reaches internal temperature of 165°F/75°C. Turn the wings once or twice while grilling.
Chicken drumsticks and thighs are grilled over medium heat for 30 – 35 minutes until they reach internal temperature of 165°F/75°C. You need to flip the drumsticks every 5-6 minutes to prevent burnt skin.
When you want to grill a whole chicken, cooking time will be 60-75 minutes or until the meat reaches internal temperature of 165°F/75°C. You can spatchcock (butterfly) and grill the meat for less time. Butterflying a whole chicken makes it easy to grill in about 40 to 45 minutes.
Check the meat for doneness.
Do not serve chicken if you doubt its readiness. To check if the meat is ready, make a small cut in the thickest part. If you see pink or red juice, the chicken is not ready yet. You can also check the readiness with a meat thermometer. 165°F/75°C for cuts will indicate that chicken can be served. Allow the meat to rest for at least 5 minutes so that it acquires the best structure and a richer flavor.