Friday, May 23, 2008

How to BBQ Chicken

If you want to barbecue chicken there are three basic methods you can use.
1) direct grilling
2) low and slow smoking
3) combination of direct grilling and slow smoking
The choice depends largely upon personal choice and type of equipment you have available to use. If the only barbecue equipment you own is a gas grill, then you are limited to direct grilling. If you own a kettle grill then your choices are wide open. If the only equipment you own is a low and slow smoker, direct grilling is probably not going to work for you.
Direct grilling:
The fastest way to cook your chicken in an outdoor setting isn't always the best choice for moist and tender bbq chicken. When cooking chicken at temperatures above 400 degrees you risk chicken that is crisp or slightly burned on the outside skin, but undercooked on the inside. Or as is often the case, chicken that is raw in the middle. The high temperatures associated with grilling will result in "drying out". However, if you like crispy chicken skin this is probably the best choice.
Low and slow smoking:
The slowest way to cook chicken outdoors is the best way to ensure your chicken is tender and juicy. You can use a bbq rub on the skin without burning it and you can ensure the chicken is cooked throughout without the risk of overcooking. This method often results in chicken skin that is a "rubbery" texture. If you don't like the skin, simply remove it before biting into the juicy and tender chicken.
Combination direct grill and slow smoking:
Lately I've been favoring a combination of the two methods. I cook my chicken over direct charcoal heat for 4 - 5 minutes turning it often to prevent burning. This helps render the fat on the underside of the skin and helps prevent the "rubbery" effect. I then finish it off on my smoker for about an hour at 225 degrees. This combination offers the best of both crisp skin and tender and juicy meat.
Secret tip #1:
Whichever method you chose, make sure you put bbq rub under the skin prior to cooking. This will help add flavor throughout the piece of chicken.
Super secret tip #2:
After placing the spice rub under the skin let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for a couple hours prior to cooking. The rub will penetrate deeper into the chicken. If your spice rub has a lot of salt in it, marinating longer than 2 - 2 1/2 hours might create an undesireable "salty" flavor. If your rub is hot with a lot of pepper, marinating longer than 2 - 2 1/2 hours might create "spicy" flavor.


Chris said...

Great tips. I've pretty much gone low and slow but near the end, I'll drop some hot lump in and move the birds close the the fire box opening, which gives it the direct grilling effect. I'll have to try the grilling first followed by the smoking like you did to see how it turns out.

btw, is there any better chicken salad than chicken salad made with leftover smoked chicken? I don't think so!

El Pollo Rey said...

The great thing about chicken is that so many people love it. So when grilling chicken for guests, you will most certainly be a success. El Pollo Rey has been serving the best charcoal grilled chicken complete with side dishes.

Curtis Moe said...

Great tip! Like Chris I have been doing slow and low with great result, but the skin isn't always the best.
I will give that direct and indirect method a try. Only an hour with the indirect. That really cuts down on the time.
Thanks again

Curtis Moe

John Prather said...

Love this web site! I have been BBQing chicken for many years. Even have a special chicken sauce I would like to sell but..

I agree 100% with your fast slow approach. On my Weber i leave some room with no coals on one side so I can stack up the chicken there after grilling then sauce it again and put the top on leaving a crack oppsite the stacked chicken (top on proped up on oposite side). Come back in about an hour and its cooked through but with a crisper out side.