Feel Like Chicken Tonight?
This week I was asked this question:
“I know that grilled chicken is a lean meat, but do you have any tips for keeping it moist and tender?”
Chicken is a quintessential healthy food since it is very lean-low in fat, but high in protein. However, these same characteristics are also what make it dry out easily, especially when it is cooked using a dry heat method, such as grilling. This is a great time of year to grill, and grilled chicken can be a flavorful addition to a healthy meal. Just follow my tips for grilling up juicy, tender, tasty chicken every time.
1. Pierce the uncooked chicken with a fork before marinating as this will allow more of the marinade to seep into the chicken and keep it moister.
2. Use a marinade has some type of healthy fat in it, such as olive or canola oil, as well as an acid such as a vinegar or citrus juice. These two ingredients help to tenderize chicken and keep it juicy.
3. Overcooking is one of the most common causes of dried out chicken, but of course you don't want to run the risk of undercooking chicken either, so I always use a meat thermometer with grilled chicken to make sure it is done, but not overcooked. The USDA recommends that chicken breasts should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. But remember, the chicken will continue to cook some once it has been removed from the grill, so you may want to take it off the grill when it is a few degrees less than this, just make sure it reaches 165 before serving it.
4. It’s true that bone-in chicken with skin on has more fat than boneless, skinless chicken breasts. However, both of these things (skin and bones) help to lock the moisture in the chicken during the cooking process. For the tenderest chicken, leave the bones in and the skin on during the cooking process. You can always remove the skin prior to eating.
5. If you have pieces of chicken that are various sizes, place the smallest pieces around the outer rim of the grill so they will cook slower and won’t dry out by the time the larger pieces are cooked thoroughly.
6. Turning the chicken as it cooks is very important, but use a spatula or tongs. Do NOT use a fork. Piercing the chicken as it cooks will release the juices, drying out the chicken.
7. Do NOT cut into the chicken right away after it comes off the grill-this will release all the juices and cool it down quicker. Instead, wrap it in aluminum foil and let it rest for a little while.