Let’s Talk Chicken

IMG_4001.jpgMany of us will be grilling out this summer and Chicken will be a featured protein. Here are some tips to help you achieve greater success… 1. Pull the chicken out of the fridge for 30 minutes or so before you put in on the grill, hot coals will actually trap coldness in the chicken taking longer to get to well done…its called Thermal Lock, think of it as a reverse igloo phenomenon. 2. Buy Chicken with skin and bone on, grilled with skin and bone adds flavor and moisture… if you don’t want to eat skin then peel it off, but trust me your chicken will be so much better grilled this way. 3. Use lower heat than steaks, even push your coals to one side or turn the gas way down, this will allow heat to penetrate your chicken more slowly achieving a well done moistness we all want. 4. Season or marinate your birds prior to cooking, I use the the Cornell Chicken BBQ Sauce as a marinade for my birds sometimes as long as 48 hours, you’ll notice it has no sugar…9 out 10 times sugar in sauces is what is burning on your birds. I also make a separate batch to baste, I’ve copy and pasted from their website.

Cornell Chicken Barbecue Sauce and Safe Chicken Barbecues

Cornell Chicken Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 1 pint cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons salt*
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg

Beat the egg, then add the oil and beat again. Add other ingredients and stir. The recipe can be varied to suit individual tastes. Leftover sauce can be stored in a glass jar in a refrigerator for several weeks.
(Adapted from Cornell Cooperative Extension Information Bulletin 862.)

* Adjust the quantity or eliminate salt to meet individual health needs and taste. Barbecued chicken basted frequently during cooking will be saltier than chicken that has been lightly basted.

To Barbecue the Broilers:

Place the broiler halves over the fire after the flame is gone. Turn the halves every five to ten minutes, depending on the heat from the fire. Use turners or a long handled fork. The chicken should be basted with a fiber brush at each turning. The basting should be light at first and heavy near the end of the cooking period.

Test the chicken to see whether it is done by pulling the wing away from the body and using a meat thermometer. If the meat in this area splits easily and the meat thermometer reads at least 165°F in the breast and thigh, the chicken is done.

A Guide to Safe Chicken Barbecues

Raw chicken and other meat can harbor harmful bacteria. At temperatures between 41°F and 140°F, these microorganisms can multiply and cause illness. But if you take a few simple precautions during preparation and cook chicken thoroughly to kill bacteria, you don’t have to worry about foodborne illness.

Remember to take what you know about kitchen cleanliness and safe food handling out to the grill:

  • If you prepare the barbecue sauce ahead of time, refrigerate it. Take to the grill only the amount of sauce you will use to baste the chicken at the time.
  • If you are preparing large quantities of sauce for a community organization’s barbecue, you can use pasteurized eggs** for an extra margin of safety. Pasteurization kills any harmful bacteria that might be in the eggs.
  • Clean your hands just before working with food. If hot water and soap are not available nearby, use disposable wet hand wipes.
  • Keep bacteria on raw poultry or meat from spreading to other raw or cooked food, including cooked chicken or meat. Wash your hands again after working with raw poultry or meat and before handling other kinds of foods.
  • Save time: Buy broilers already split in half. Take them from the package and place them right on the grill. If you do cut up the chicken yourself, immediately wash your cutting board and the knife thoroughly with soap and hot water before using them to prepare other foods for your cookout.
  • Do not partially cook chicken in the kitchen ahead of time unless you are going to put it on the grill immediately. Dangerous bacteria can sometimes grow when food is partially cooked, held for a time, then later re-cooked.
  • Keep the chicken on the grill for several minutes after the last baste to be sure the sauce is well cooked. Test the doneness of the chicken using a thermometer: It should reach 165°F in the breast and thigh. If you are cooking large numbers of chicken halves, check the temperature of representative pieces in different locations on the grill.
  • Transfer the chicken to a clean plate, tray, or container using clean utensils. Do not use the plate used to carry the raw chicken to the grill or the utensils used to turn raw chicken.
  • Discard the portion of sauce used for basting the raw chicken. Dipping the basting brush into the sauce after brushing the raw chicken may dilute the acid (vinegar) in the sauce and contaminate it with harmful bacteria.
  • Refrigerate leftover barbecued chicken, barbecue sauce, and other foods as soon as possible after the meal. Use a cooler with ice or freezer packs if you are away from home. Keep the cooler in the shade. If you cannot refrigerate or properly cool leftovers, throw them out.

Make a habit of following these few simple rules and you, your family and friends, and your community can enjoy safe and tasty chicken barbecues all season long!


* Cornell Information Bulletin 862, Barbecued Chicken and Other Meats by R.C. Baker, is no longer available from Cornell’s Resource Center.

** Pasteurized liquid eggs can be obtained from food service product distributors (check telephone yellow pages) or may be available in small packages in some supermarkets. Some supermarkets may stock pasteurized in-shell eggs also.

Fact Sheets are often shared between counties. Please contact your local Cooperative Extension for more information on this topic.

I love chicken, especially the dark quarters, if you find that sometimes your chicken is a little pink, it may be from the smoke and not lack of doneness. Gases from using natural fuels set the Myoglobin in the meat, and that’s how we get pinkness and smoke rings in Turkeys, and Chickens cooked over charcoal. I once served beautiful smoked ringed pork ribs at a catering and had a women chasing me around asking me If I was trying to kill people? Well as a dear Slavic friend used to say “Ignorance can be cured with education but stupidity is terminal” lol, regardless how you cook your chicken this summer, please remember the most important ingredient to any gathering is the company you keep!

One thought on “Let’s Talk Chicken

  1. Thank you for sharing! Your passion for grilling has almost enticed me to try a Julia Julia type experience. You sure make it something worth looking forward to vs dreading. Meat 😉 change is good


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