Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tutorial: How to Grill Chicken

I have to admit, a year ago I had never touched a grill (well, except to move it). I hadn't the first clue how to turn it on, what temperature was appropriate, how to clean it, and certainly not how to actually cook with in. In fact, I was so intimidated by the grill that I either postponed dinner until my husband could take care of the cooking, or I used my grill pan on the stovetop, which works great but doesn't get nearly as hot as an actual grill, and therefore the results aren't exactly the same.
Then we ended up living with my parents for a year, and my dad is a grill-aholic. He about fell over when I said I'd never grilled, and I'm pretty sure he dropped everything he was doing just to teach me a few things, such as how to turn it on.

Now that I know how to grill, I usually grill up 2 additional chicken breasts to use throughout the week. Sliced thin, they make great sandwiches. I also toss chicken into salads, pastas, or use it instead of hamburger or burritoes or nachos. I also love chicken on my pizza, but my husband doesn't (one of those questions I should have asked him before we got married).

First of all, you are welcome to marinade your chicken. I usually start marinading in the morning, giving the chicken about 8 hours to become friends with the marinade. You can always use those premade bottles of 30-minute marinades, but the fun really comes from doing it yourself. I always include the following (for 3-4 chicken breasts):
  • Extra virgin olive oil, about 1 cup
  • An acid, usually lemon or lime juice (1/3 to 1/2 cup), plus zest
  • A splash of vinegar (any flavor), about 2 Tbsp
  • Aromatics aka fresh herbs. My favorites are rosemary, bay leaf, and thyme.
Sometimes you can even experiment. Try marinading in Sprite with herbs :)

Now for the grilling. Start by firing up your grill and getting it hot, about 350 to 400 degrees. Spray the grill with a good non-stick spray. We use one specifically designed for high heat (from Pam). Using tongs, lay the chicken out and let cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, closing the lid of your grill as you cook. You want the outside of the chicken to be a nice golden color with beautiful grill marks.

Obviously, at this point, your chicken looks great, but I promise the inside is still raw. Here's where my dad's fancy-pants trick comes in. Using a long piece of foil, about 18 inches long or so, fold up the sides to make a long dish. He calls it a "boat". I call it, well, a boat, or the foil-thingy-that-holds-the-chicken. Anyway, after the chicken has grilled on both sides, place the foil boat on the top rack of the grill and place the chicken inside the boat. This is great because it cooks like it's in a hot oven (allowing the insides to cook without burning the outsides) and it cooks in its juices.

Don't worry if your grill doesn't have a top rack. You can also transfer the chicken to a preheated 350 degree oven to finish cooking. The whole idea is to let it get nice grill marks and a crispy outside without drying out the inside by keeping it on the high-heat flames. An oven will work great, too.

 Confused? Check out the pics:

Cook in the foil boat for 10 minutes with the lid closed. Check to ensure the chicken is cooked through. It should read 165 degrees on a meat thermometer and the juices should run clear.

I promise the outside will have that great grill flavor while the insides remain moist and delicious.

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