No matter what seasoning formula you like--a Mediterranean garlic-lemon-olive oil combo with herbs, a teriyaki-style blend of soy sauce, sake and sugar or an Indian curry-ginger-garlic spice paste--the scent and flavor chicken gains from grilling makes it a worldwide favorite.
Chicken isn’t tough to barbecue, but these tips produce a better bird. For juicier meat, leave the skin on to shield the meat from the searing heat. Brush oily marinades off the chicken and put a drip pan on the coals underneath whole chickens to catch juices and prevent flare-ups. Check the chicken frequently; it can scorch quickly. If its skin starts to char before it’s done, lower the heat or move the chicken to a cooler spot. Barbecue sauces containing sugar, syrup, fruit juice, tomato or ketchup will burn; brush the sauce on for the last few minutes.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking whole chickens and dark meat pieces to 180 degrees and breasts to 170 degrees. Digital thermometers are sensitive even if they enter only a half-inch of food, but common instant-read dial thermometers need 2 inches; for small pieces of chicken, insert the thermometer sideways.
Seasoned in the Eastern Mediterranean style, this chicken is great with a chopped salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and green onions and with rice pilaf topped with toasted pine nuts. You might like to grill corn, thick onion slices, eggplant wedges, sweet peppers and firm-ripe tomatoes too; make an extra batch of the marinating mixture for brushing on the vegetables. They’ll be any barbecued chicken’s ideal companions.
Faye Levy is the author of “Faye Levy’s International Chicken Cookbook,” (Warner, 1992).
The time given here is for assorted chicken pieces. Breasts take about 20 minutes, thighs and drumsticks about 30 to 35 minutes and a whole chicken about 45 to 60 minutes, but times vary widely.
For outdoor barbecuing I often opt for chicken on the bone, as it’s moister and more flavorful. When I’m in a rush, I cook boneless chicken on a stove-top grill with the same seasonings.