Buckah! What's for dinner tonight? Why, chicken, of course, but since the weather's nice and warm out, we'll be hitting the grill. Two things, though, come to mind. The first is: boring! And the second is: dry. But, it doesn't have to be that way. If you want tender, juicy grilled chicken and interesting recipes, read on.
Click here to see the 15 Great Grilled Chicken Recipes (Slideshow)
So, first things first. How do you make grilled chicken that's moist, tender, and flavorful instead of dry, rubbery, and bland? Well, you can choose to use thighs, which have higher fat content and less of a tendency to dry out, but, if like many health-conscious people, you prefer boneless, skinless chicken breast, we have a few tips that ought to help.
- Use a brine: A brine is a simple salt water solution that will help meat stay moist as it cooks on a grill; as a rule of thumb, dissolve a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of sugar, if using, per cup of water. Brine chicken breasts for only 2-3 hours for best results.
- Use a marinade: A marinade consists of three basic things — an acid, aromatics, and oil. Acid helps tenderize the meat, aromatics impart flavor, and the oil binds together all of the ingredients. Click here to see Marinades Made Easy.
- Use a brick: Wrap a brick in foil and place it on top of the breasts as they cook. Covering them helps keep them from drying out, makes them cook more evenly by flattening them, and also gets you nice grill marks.
- Use your frustrations: Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness using a meat mallet or the back of a heavy pan to ensure even cooking and shorter cooking times. Shorter cooking times give chicken breasts less of a chance to dry out.
- Use a meat thermometer: While some people may lament the loss of juices by essentially poking a hole in the chicken, when it comes to food safety, it's better to be safe than sorry. (Testing just one is usually enough, so if you're cooking multiple breasts, this isn't too much of an issue; just give the tester to someone who's been misbehaving.) The magic number you want to hit is 165 degrees. Some recipes, like these Flash-Grilled Chicken Breasts with Orange-Maple Syrup Sauce, will tell you to pull them off the grill at 160 and let carryover cooking do the rest. We like this idea, but if it makes you a little uncomfortable, by all means, wait for 165.
So that takes care of technique. What about recipes? In this roundup, there are recipes to satisfy cooks of all levels, some of which are interesting takes on old favorites like Grilled Chicken Pizza and a Grilled Chicken and Egg Potato Salad, while others are inspired by different cuisines from around the world — like Alice Currah's Thai Marinated Grilled Chicken Skewers and this Grilled Greek Chicken with Tzatziki Sauce. For more mouthwatering recipes, read on to the slideshow.
Will Budiaman is the Recipe editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.
This article was originally published August 8, 2013