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Need moist chicken grilling secrets

The Chowhound community really stepped up to the plate when I put out the call re: juicy burgers, so my wife asked if a few of you would help out with revealing chicken secrets, too!

Here's the deal. Trying to grill white chicken meat (with bone) is a toss up- sometimes a few pieces come off the grill moist, sometimes most of it is tough and dry. We love to grill, we love chicken, but we need more assurance we know what we are doing to get moist results. My wife leaned over my shoulder a moment ago and said, "we need more information, not assurance!"
No pressure, but we're grilling chicken for ten people tomorrow night and we'd like to stay friends with all of them.
Thanks again.

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  1. Brining is your friend:

    Experiment with different flavorings in addition to the basic recipe above. I add a little soy sauce and a little dry sherry to my brine.

    1. I grill bone in chicken thighs all the time. I know they aren't white meat, but they are very forgiving on the grill and always come out moist for me.

      I sear them for about 5 minutes on each side on direct medium heat, then I turn off the middle burner and indirect grill them for about 30 minutes (or more depending on the size).

      At the end I put them over direct heat for a few minutes if I need to crisp up the skin.

      1. Buy the smallest breast you can find. (Good luck with that)
        Brine in a basic brine
        Do not over cook!


        2 Replies
        1. re: Uncle Bob

          We grilled our chicken, as planned and posted to y'all. We brined chicken breasts overnight in the kosher salt water- brown sugar brine. Then we got up this a.m. and brined the chicken legs in a second batch of brine. My wife had legs, I had breasts. She said the legs were moist. I have to report that the breasts were still a little dry. Tasty, and very acceptable to share with guests, but maybe a little dry. I may have left them on the grill too long? We got some compliments from the guests and it was a fun evening all around, though.
          Brining: Worth trying again. If CDouglas says "brining is your friend," then I have to let the friendship grow over time. I didn't take the chicken's internal temp tonight, woodburner. Some of those breast pieces were small- I hope the product you recommended is a tiny thing for future purchase.
          Thanks again,
          Florida Hound

          1. re: Florida Hound

            Gotta use a thermometer... it can be a $5 probe with a dial instead of digital, from the supermarket, but that's the key to pull chicken off while its still moist...

        2. Brining is great, but I think you need to watch the chicken's internal temp. They say 160-165 is done. Yeah... plenty done. But if you do it a few degrees less, you'll have moist breasts, So,,, the tip... use an accurate, digital probe thermo, and pull each breast off when the center temp reaches 150. It will climb furhter after it comes off. And they're not all done at the same time. Do this, you have moist white meat. Is it your birthday? Get a Thermapen. Yeah, its 90 bucks... but its accurate and super fast. Don't immerse to clean, and get water in the metal-plastic joint... just wash the metal probe. Good luck.

          1. I'm not as enamored with brining as many. I feel it adversely affects the texture of the flesh. Personally, I think the secret to grillin' chicken is to sorta roast it with indirect heat and smoke to about 140 degrees. Then, place it over the hot coals to create a crust in a coupla minutes. Sauce gets applied at the end.

            1 Reply
            1. Two things that have not been addressed so far is the fact you want to grill the breast bone on. the second i'll get to later (spoiler alert: let it rest 5 minutes).

              Brining is a must, unless you have tried it and don't prefer it. if you're going to brine it with the skin on I recommend an injector. When it comes to crispy skin and chicken.. keeping it dry is key (the skin that is). Fully submerging a skin on breast in brine will result in rubbery skin (keep in mind the salt content of the brine will determine the length of brining).

              Since you are cooking with the bone, I suggest a slow, inderect heat. when the internal temp gets to where to you want, let it rest (the bigger the bird, the longer the time) Then, if desired, crisp the skin on a high heat (broiler, fryer ect..)

              A couple of side notes.... personal preferance is key. there isnt a bad piece of advice so far. Try different things... something that isnt mentioned is that marination is a form of brining (assuming there is salt in the marinade) ANYTHING you cook with a bone will take longer and you will need to adjust cooking times and temps.

              1. I am not a fan of brining. I like my chicken to taste of chicken, not of some random liquid that has been pumped into it. Mark Bittman published the secret to properly grilled chicken in 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/13/din....
                You need a two- or three-level fire, put the white pieces on the lowest level, the dark meat on a higher fire. When all is cooked through, let the skin crisp over high heat. Good luck.

                1. My husband swear by a quick parboil before grilling. The meat is partially cooked so it goes faster with less risk of burnt outside/raw inside or dried out meat. The skins crisp ups wonderfully and its great if you slather on some BBQ sauce towards the end.

                  1. Have you considered doing beer can chicken? I've never had a dry chicken yet doing it that way (you don't have to use beer, you can use any other soda of choice).

                    1. I've never tried this, but I've heard one of the simplest methods is to roast chicken at 500 degrees. I don't have an outdoor grill and I'm reluctant to try that in my oven because it will probably make a mess and set off all my smoke alarms.

                      Personally, I'm not a fan of brining chicken or any other meats. The website Serious Eats went into great detail about this, and the science behind it. Long and short of it, brining can turn meat into a "wet sponge" so to speak, technically moist but no flavor since its mostly water.

                      1. My trick is to not use my grill. Cooks Illustrated oven version all the way, brainless and works every time.

                        Preheat to 450 with a jelly roll pan on the bottom rack of the oven from the beginning.

                        Prick the skin of the chicken a bunch of times. I use corn on the cob spikes. Season both sides of chicken parts, and slather with olive oil.

                        Put them skin side down on the pan, then move the pieces around a bit to avoid sticking.

                        Set time for 25 minutes, rotate the pan 180 degrees after 15 minutes. Never flip the chicken.

                        And that's it! Done. So good every time, really crispy skin, and totally repeatable. Also all the grease stays in the oven and gets burnt off. Just open a window. One pan to clean.

                        I love to grill, but I can't repeat the same juicy results every time like I can with the method above.