Is there truly anything more mouth watering than juicy grilled chicken?
I mean, when you think of Summer and eating on the back deck and having friends and family over to your home – doesn’t juicy and succulent and perfectly grilled chicken come to mind? I know it does for me. But, not the kind of chicken that has lost every drop of moisture and resembles something that lines the bottom of your shoe. We all know that kind of chicken, don’t we? Is there a secret to obtaining perfectly grilled chicken? There sure is, and I am going to share it with you.
PERFECTLY JUICY GRILLED CHICKEN
Tomorrow is the last day of the school year for my two oldest babies. This Grammy is soooo excited as I usually am when they get out for the Summer. That means lots of pool time and beach time, lots of museum time and mini field trips, camping with tents – and grilling. This time of year, I rarely turn on my stove top. But we go through tank after tank of propane gas. I even love to grill our desserts. Such as thick slices of slightly sweet angel food cake brushed with butter and grilled until lightly crispy and caramelized on the edges. Then, topped with perfectly grilled succulent peaches and drizzled with local honey and slivered almonds. Now my mouth is really watering. Then…there is the chicken.
I think there is an art form to taking a chicken breast, cook it, and allow it to retain any of it’s moisture. There really aren’t any hard secrets. At least, here in the South there isn’t. We all use this common ingredient whenever we are preparing any kind of chicken – be it grilled, poached or fried. Do you know what it is?
Good ole’ fashioned buttermilk.
The longer the chicken can soak in the buttermilk, the more tender and juicy it will be. Buttermilk has a tangy taste, and you would think meat would take on residual tastes of that tangy flavor of during the soaking process, but it doesn’t. The enzymes in buttermilk allows the chicken to become more tender as it helps to break down the meat. I like to add seasonings to the buttermilk during the soaking process. Oh, and how long do I soak my chicken for? I prefer overnight, but a minimum about 3-4 hours will work.
I like to add a variety of dry herbs (I think dried herbs, crushed in my hands do best) to the buttermilk, as well as hot sauce. The amount of hot sauce you desire depends on how much “heat” you desire. I only use a few drops. Then it all goes into a zip-lock baggy until about a half hour before its time to heat up the grill. By the way, I NEVER grill any meat right from the fridge, rather its best if grilled slightly above or at room temperature.
And then there is the pièce de résistance – the dry rub, or the preferred BBQ sauce. That is a personal preference if you use one or the other, or both. I actually use both. I will be sharing my own dry rub recipe soon. (Shhhh…I am in the process of marketing my rub. Oh, yes I am! 🙂 ) I will add one bit of advice when it comes to applying the BBQ sauce. I think most people make this one mistake when grilling. They apply the BBQ sauce too soon and you end up with a bunch of charred, black almost inedible meat. That is because the sugars in the sauce caramelize and finally burn before the inside has had ample time to cook through. Don’t do that. 😀 Use a dry rub to cook in a variety of flavors, and finally, just before you remove the meat from the grill, brush on your preferred sauce and allow it to sizzle for just a few minutes per side.
Let me talk briefly about the process of grilling. The average size chicken breast takes about 3-5 minutes per side. I try to only turn my chicken once during the grilling process, and then once again if I have applied BBQ sauce. Allowing the chicken to sit on the grill for a longer amount of time without turning it will create those beautiful grill marks like you see above. Trust me, the babies could care less for those pretty grill marks. But for anyone who adorns a grilling apron and arms themselves with the perfect set of tongs – it is the ultimate form of showmanship. There is nothing prettier than a platter of cooked breasts, doused with a dry rub of spices and herbs and slathered liberally with a yummy BBQ sauce …baring beautifully charr marks across each side. It is a representation of grilling perfection. Grilling. Perfection.
So there you go…a simple and quick lesson on grilling. Throughout this Summer, I hope to create a few more posts on Grilling 101. I know that in many homes the man of the house is also considered the King of the Grill. Well, ladies, I am here to say YOU can be the Queen of the Grill this Summer. Grab those tongs and make them yours. 🙂
Thanks for letting me share my tips for Perfectly Juicy Grilled Chicken. I hope this has helped.
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