Nothing seems easier to cook than chicken, which is why you probably find yourself messing it up constantly. It’s a reasonably priced cut of meat, so when you overcook, undercook, or slap the wrong sauce on it, it’s easy to soldier through whatever you’re eating and have a tasty dessert to make up for your lackluster meal. The problem is that chicken can be kind of boring. Since the average person eats approximately 53 pounds of chicken per year, we asked Chef John Hogan of Chicago restaurant River Roast for some tips on how to create tasty grilled chicken that would kick up the flavor of any meal.
Let it Marinate
With a little bit of forethought, you can take your chicken to delicious new heights. Marinate the chicken in as short as 30 minutes or as long as overnight, but you should definitely let it sit in some flavorful sauce before you put it in the pan. Making one is easy (and included in the recipe below), but you can easily find a great marinade at your local grocery store. Put your chicken bits in an airtight container, pour your marinade on it, shake it up to get an even coating, and let it rest in your refrigerator for a while.
Get a Meat Thermometer
It seems like one of those extravagant kitchen tools that won’t really serve the average home cook, but a meat thermometer will help you make your chicken perfect every time. Cooking times vary based on the size of the cut, but the average internal temperature of a chicken breast should be about 165º for most juicy, savory dishes.
Leave Your Bird Alone
Even though it’s tempting to constantly flip your chicken over, that’s a real Muppets-inspired Swedish Chef move, and there’s no point to it. The best way to get evenly cooked chicken is to leave it alone. Take up knitting if you must, but it’s best to let your chicken cook for a few minutes before flipping it over. When it’s all done, you should also let it sit on a cutting board for a few minutes before cutting it up.
Chef John Hogan’s Perfect Grilled Chicken
Note: Boil all ingredients (except chicken) and let cool
- 16 oz cider vinegar
- 1 qt water
- 4 oz light brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 whole allspice
- 2 juniper berry
- 3 bay leaf
- 1 small bunch fresh thyme
- 10 peppercorns
- 1/8 cup kosher salt
- 2 half boneless chicken breasts
- Place 2 half boneless chicken, skin on, in the brine and let set in the refrigerator for 4–6 hours.
- Remove chicken and pat dry. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper and rub with olive oil.
- Chef Hogan prefers to cook the birds on a cast iron surface; however, you may also use a gas grill or charcoal. Start skin-side down over high heat for 2-3 minutes reduce to medium heat continue to cook for about 4-5 more until skin is nice and crispy. Then turn over for and continue for 2–3 more minutes until internal temp is 160º.
- Let the birds rest for 5–6 minutes and enjoy with a simple salad!