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Chris Amirault

Grilled Chicken -- eG Cook-Off 53

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Welcome to eG Cook-Off 53, grilled chicken! (For previous Cook-Offs, check out the eG Cook-Off Index.)

For such a ubiquitous summer protein, there have been few eG Forums topics on the subject. CDRFloppingham asked us to consider his grilled chicken dilemmas over in this topic, and there have been a few discussions about par-cooking chicken prior to grilling, a recent long one here and a brief excursion into the topic here (during the Cradle of Flavor topic).

But parcooking is just the tip of the wing. Rubs or marinades? Gas or charcoal? Direct or indirect? Whole, spatchcocked, or parts? When do you add salt? Acid?

Anyone want to drag the grill out and throw a few birds on it? Just keep your hands off the charred skin I "accidentally" pulled from that stray thigh....

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Now that I'm back in the land of backyard grills, I'm in. I made an incredible African Chicken on the grill earlier this year in China - over charcoal, of course. Now I'm in Canada, I'll have to use the gas grill I have to hand. I'm thinking of doing the Grilled Coconut Chicken with Lemon Basil from "Cradle of Flavor", pending a visit to our local Asian market and availability of key ingredients.

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Say more about your glaze. I rarely do anything after they come off the grill and are resting save toss salt and squeeze citrus. But that's intriguing -- as was Erin's "Amalgamation" step with the African chicken.

Tonight I'll be grilling a broken-down bird plus four additional thighs. All the thighs are getting my latest favorite rub, using a black pepper & Aleppo pepper base, whereas the other parts are in a mustard & thyme marinade. Photos to follow.

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Im doing a friend of mine's rehearsal dinner for his wedding here in a few weeks, figured I needed chicken.

Im going to spatchcock, brine for 12 hours, smoke for about an hour and a half to two hours, then finish on the grill.

I will try one or two out here this weekend.

Dont know if this counts as grilled chicken though...

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I'm in! When we grill chicken we usually just use thighs, either bone-in and skin on or boneless and skinless. Here's a photo of some on the grill from a couple of weeks ago. Time for more! I'll be marinating mine in my chicken fajita marinade: olive oil, lemon juice, paprika, garlic, and jalapenos.

GrilledChicken.jpg

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That crosshatching has me envious. Are you searing first and then pulling it off direct heat, or the other way around?

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I use a charcoal grill with lump hardwood charcoal. My method is to setup the grill with indirect heat. My bird of choice is cut up into 8 pieces. I place the chicken skin side down directly over the charcoal to crisp the skin, usually 10 minutes. Then I flip them over and move them to the middle of the grill to cook them indirectly. I would add dry wood chips at this point if I want to smoke the meat. Barbecue sauce or any type of sauce or glaze is mopped on during the last 10-15 minutes of the cooking.

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Edit: Thanks for the inspiration! I am making turkey thigh escabeche for dinner. Thanks to this thread, I am parcooking the thighs on the grill right now with some eggplants for tomorrow.

The barbecue is set up for indirect heat with the turkey thighs directly over the hot coals.

gallery_61658_6368_287551.jpg

Once they have a nice sear (these have a light sear due to par cooking) I moved them into the middle, skin side up until done.

gallery_61658_6368_186866.jpg


Edited by DanM (log)

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I would love to replicate Nando's grilled chicken at home. Without buying the sauces (can't get them here), anybody have any hints? I'm thinking Peri-Peri or lemon & herb.

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I'm in. I'll do it on a Weber using charcoal. I like to use a glaze at the end, but have not decided how I'll do it yet. May even cheat with a bottled marinade. :shock:

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We're doing a whole chicken on the rotisserie on the gas grill. Have done a couple of the Egg, and love them, but we haven't test driven the new grill yet in terms of the rotisserie. And for the first time, I used a rub.

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That crosshatching has me envious. Are you searing first and then pulling it off direct heat, or the other way around?

Thanks, Chris. We sear them skin side down over the flame (we have a gas grill), then move them to indirect.

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I would love to replicate Nando's grilled chicken at home. Without buying the sauces (can't get them here), anybody have any hints? I'm thinking Peri-Peri or lemon & herb.

Followed an old link from an eG thread on Peri Peri chicken to find this recipe.

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I plan on grilling a spatchcocked chicken over indirect heat, then brown and glaze with a mustard Apricot glaze. Do you think the addition of Hickory would clash with the Apricot?

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Definitely not. For years my go-to addition to smoked chicken was an apricot/habañero glaze.

I also think that mustard is a particularly good ingredient for grilled chicken, particularly dijon mustard, which seems to have an affinity for the smoke and char.

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Two bowls, one with the thighs and Aleppo/black pepper rub, the other with the mustard/thyme marinade.

4804789366_12c76d86a9.jpg

Grill set-up, with the aged Char-Broil kettle and the double grate required by rust on the over-sized original grate. And the cold drink, also required.

4804789554_b7f093ebf5.jpg

After searing the chicken, working through the croutons and vegetables on high heat while the chicken finishes.

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I let the chicken rest on the croutons, which absorb their juices and soften up a bit.

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Served with grilled red bell peppers in balsamic, grilled zucchini, mint, and lime, and some sliced peaches and nectarines.

I prepared the chicken without brining because I did the prep prior to work; an all-day brine would have been overkill. I missed it here, though, as the chicken tasted seasoned only on the outside, despite the rub and marinade.

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That is my main complaint about sauces and marinades for my grilled chicken; they never seem to truly penetrate.

I made the Grilled Coconut Chicken with Lemon Basil last night (pictures to follow). Braising before grilling worked great for infusing the flavour, and rather than using a whole chicken, I used what I had on hand: chicken wings. The ratio of skin to meat meant the flavour really carried through the chicken, and there was no bland white meat untouched by the sauce.

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For grilled chicken, I spatchcock the bird by cutting the bird either side of the backbone and flip it over, press down on the breast and flatten the bird. This makes it much easier to cook on a grill as a whole bird. To keep the chicken flat, I put wooden skewers criss-crossing the bird starting at the drumstick, through the body and coming out of the wing.

My marinade of preference is olive oil, garlic, lemon rind, continental parsley, salt and pepper. Submerge in the mardinade for at least an hour, preferably a few hours to overnight.

Cook over a medium-hot charcoal grill skin side down and turn once during cooking. Don't be afraid if it flares occasionally, the burned portions of skin are crispy and delicious. Test doneness by seeing if juices are clear when you pierce bird where the thigh connects with the body.

For a nice serving size, try this with a poussin sized bird (400-450g).

Will cook this up soon and post a picture.

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I'm not sure Chris. The lemon is an acid so it may well penetrate but the cooking method forms a very tasty crust on the chicken that would swamp the taste of any penetration that may have occurred.


Edited by nickrey (log)

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That's the rub with grilling, I think, balancing off the char with the other flavors. It's probably why I use rubs more than marinades, too: no need to fantasize about the interior of the meat getting much flavor, so focus on appropriate doneness instead.

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I like to marinate with citrus juice (mainly lemon) too but for me it's not about penetration and I certainly don't usually give it enough time for that anyway (~2 hours most times). The lemon (or whatever) does add a flavor that I like: is it in the meat? I don't care because really I just want the flavor of lemon and the bite from the acid to play with the richness of the skin-and it does.

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One very convenient way to have grilled chicken ready to go whenever you want it is to spatchcock the chicken, salt/herb/spice/chili/citrus it however you like, bag it with a touch of your favorite fat, cook sous vide to around 62C, then chill it down and toss it in the freezer. The flatness of the spatchcocked chicken means that it stacks nicely in multiples. Then, when you want to grill, all you have to do is toss the bag in a sinkfull of warm water while the grill preheats, unbag the chicken and slap it on the grill long enough to crisp the skin. The flavor penetration from the seasoning is great, and you don't have to be so concerned about overcooking the breasts/undercooking the legs.

Also, whereas I like the usual spatchcock that cuts out the backbone for broiling and pan-roasting, for grilling I think it's better to cut down through the breastbone and flatten it out with the backbone in the center. This seems sturdier for moving around on the grill, and seems to make it easier to nail the proper level of doneness for the legs and breast (probably because traditional spatchcocking seems to focus most of the heat into the breasts).

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While this is really more of a roast chicken, it WAS prepared on the grill. It's stuffed with a mix of ground beef, herbs, ricotta cheese and spinach, has a paste of fennel, garlic, onion and oil rubbed beneath the skin, and then the skin was rubbed with oil and sprinkled with kosher salt and black pepper. Grilled about 2 hours on the center of the grate, with coals heaped on either side. Started on its back, turned once to get a good sear on the breast, and then finished on its back.

grilled chicken.jpg

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