There are few foods that can compete with the taste and texture of BBQ chicken. Juicy, flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth chicken that’s cooked to perfection is the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, many times we can end up with hard, dry pieces of meat that resemble the charcoal we cooked on more than the BBQ chicken we were hoping to get. Here are a few tips on how to set up your BBQ grill to get the perfect BBQ chicken and a link to my favorite marinades. These tips work on charcoal BBQ grills as well as gas BBQ grills.
1. Setting up He Indirect Heat
Place all of the charcoal on one side of the grill to cover about one-third. The spot with all of the charcoal is the “hot zone”.
Open all vents on your grill. Closing the vents may work against you to extinguish the charcoal. Position the lid of your grill so that the vent on the lid is at the furthest point from the charcoal.
On a Gas Grill, turn the burners that are directly under the meat to a medium-low. Use a reserved burner on the other side for your “hot zone”, turning it on high. This maintains the temperature inside the grill and could serve as a place to put wood chips if you are adding smoke.
2. Place Meat Away from the Hot Zone
Begin by placing the chicken pieces next to the “hot zone.” Arrange them so they don’t touch. Make sure there aren’t any chicken pieces directly above the Hot Zone.
3. Do not check too often
Keep the lid on for about 5-7 minutes at a time. Opening the lid too often will lower the temperature inside the grill and increase your cook time. Keep a timer going when you’re chatting with friends so you don’t get distracted and turn your BBQ chicken into charcoal.
When do you flip the meat?
Notice how the meat will begin to change color as you check on it every 5-7 minutes. You will see the color change from the bottom, upward. Once the color change is at about the half-way mark then it is time to flip it. A good rule of thumb is about the 7-minute mark.
4. Adding Smoke
You can add wood chips right onto the charcoals for smoke. Flare-ups are not a problem because your meat is not directly over the fire and the flames will be extinguished when you cover the BBQ grill with the lid. Wood chips can also be soaked in water for about 20 minutes prior to grilling. On a gas grill, you can place your wood chips inside an aluminum foil pouch with a few holes made with a fork. Place the aluminum foil pouch on the heat shield that is directly above the flame and below the grill where you place your meat.
5. How to check for doneness
Once the chicken is flipped over, cook for another 5-7 minutes. One way to check if it’s done is to take a piece and cut into it. It’s done when the juices are clear and the color is white, not pink. Another way to check is to use a meat thermometer. It should read 165 F when inserted into the thickest part.