Sunday Supper: Lemon Herb Grilled Chicken
Ever grilled a chicken? Have ya ran into that problem where you marinate the chicken in BBQ sauce and it sadly burns completely on the outside, when the inside is raw? Is your grilled chicken bone dry?
Good news is – you never have to have that problem again. Follow this technique and you’ll have perfectly crispy skin, juicy and tender meat, and an all around fantastic bird to serve that you’ll be proud of and everyone will be talking about.
Here are some key tips:
1. Buy chicken skin-on and bone in. If you can, buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself. These are basically like insurance policies against dried out chicken. The reason boneless skinless breasts dry out is because there is no fat on it, so it takes a very skilled cook to pull the meat when it’s just cooked through and still moist. By having the skin on and bone in, you give yourself a bit more leeway.
2. Marinate the chicken. But don’t marinate in something overly sugary (like BBQ sauce). Sugars burn very quickly, so that’s why the outside burns and the inside remains raw. Marinate it in olive oil, citrus, and herbs – ingredients that will impart flavor, but not burn. If you want to add BBQ sauce, add it towards the end, when the chicken is almost done.
3. Cook the chicken relatively slowly. This isn’t something you want to cook for several hours, but you don’t want it done in like 10 minutes, either. To me, I go for somewhere in that 20-25 min range. Cook the skin slowly, so it renders and becomes incredibly crispy.
4. Reduce flare ups. That saying of “flame-broiled burgers and chicken”….yeah, you don’t want that. Massive flames will make your food taste like soot. Control your flame with a spray bottle and by having 2 fire zones in your grill (hot and cold) and if it gets crazy, put the chicken on the cold side and let the flames calm down, before you put the chicken back.
5. Don’t keep flipping your chicken. Sometimes, people get really antsy. Once you put the chicken down, let it cook. Don’t go around poking it, turning it, flipping it, moving it. What did it do to you? Let the grill do its job.
Allright, now that you’re armed with the tricks, here is the recipe:
Lemon Herb Grilled Chicken with Roasted Peppers (serves 4)
1 whole chicken (about 3.5 lbs), cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup chopped herbs (I used parsely, basil, rosemary, thyme, and oregano – feel free to use whatever you have)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
5-6 peppers (you could just as easily use hatch chiles, some bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapeños, or whatever peppers you have on hand)
Combine the herbs, garlic, olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice and pour over the cut chicken. Let marinate for about 4 hours. Remove the chicken from the marinade and let come to room temperature. Season heavily with salt and pepper.
Get your grill heated. I used a charcoal grill and I use a chimney starter to get the charcoal going. No lighter fluid, please. After about 15 minutes, the coals should be ready. Put all the coals on one half of the grill. This way you have half the grill at a very hot temperature, and the other half is relatively cool. This gives you control over the temperature. Put the chicken in the middle of the grill (not directly over the coals), skin side down.
Let the chicken cook for a few minutes (about 10-12), until the skin is very nice and crisp. Then, flip the chicken over and put the peppers on the hot part of the grill.
Looks good, doesn’t it?
Char the peppers completely. The idea is you want to get the skin off and just have the beautifully roasted flesh.
Allright, so now is the big question, how do I know if the chicken is done? I have a few methods:
1. Use an instant read or probe thermometer. The chicken should be somewhere between 160-165 degrees.
2. Poke it. If the chicken is firm, it’s cooked through. If you can make an indention, then it’s likely still raw.
3. Take a knife and make a small incision. Is it cooked all the way through? This way you’ll know!.
Once the chicken is done, pull it from the fire. Take the skin off the peppers and thinly slice them. Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes.
There, you’ve done it. Congratulations! You’ve gotten perfectly grilled chicken that’s crispy, juicy, and delicious.
Eat and enjoy!