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Lesson 5: How to Grill Bone-In Chicken Parts

Sarah Breckenridge; Video by Bruce Becker and Dariusz Kanarek; Editing by Cari Delahanty. Shot on location at the Dana Holcombe House, Newtown, CT.
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Lesson 5: How to Grill Bone-In Chicken Parts

Whether you’re already an accomplished griller or just a novice, grilling cookbook author Fred Thompson will turn you into a grill master in ten short episodes.

If you just want a quick dinner, throw some boneless, skinless chicken breasts over direct heat, and 15 minutes later, dinner’s ready. But bone-in chicken parts deliver much more flavor. This episode shows a few tricks for grilling bone-in chicken parts so they cook all the way through without getting burnt on the outside. The secrets are a brine that adds both flavor and moisture, as well as a two-zone fire.

Grilled Bone-In Chicken Recipes
Buttermilk Brined Chicken Breasts Barbecued Chicken Legs Five-Spiced Grilled Chicken Tuscan Grilled Chicken Under a Brick
Buttermilk Brined Chicken Breasts Barbecued Chicken Legs Five-Spice Grilled Chicken with Hoisin-Maple Glaze Tuscan Grilled Chicken Under a Brick

A buttermilk brine for tenderness and flavor
This buttermilk-brined chicken recipe is inspired by classic Southern fried chicken, including a traditional soak in buttermilk. That tradition has very solid roots in food science: the calcium in dairy marinades (including yogurt as well as buttermilk) activates enzymes in the meat that start to break down the proteins, tenderizing the meat in the process. The salt in the brine helps to tenderize, and also seasons the chicken through to the bone. After soaking the chicken overnight in the brine, pat it dry thoroughly before grilling; too much buttermilk clinging to the meat will slow down the cooking.

Combination cooking: Essential for bone-in chicken
While thin, boneless cuts cook up quickly over a hot, direct fire, bone-in chicken parts require a slower cooking method so the outside doesn’t burn before the inside cooks fully. The solution is a combination cooking method: you start the chicken out over a direct fire to brown the outside and crisp the skin, then move the chicken to the cooler zone to complete the cooking with indirect heat.

During the indirect cooking, be sure to keep your grill lid closed, to maintain a constant temperature; the grill thermometer should stay close to 325° F the whole time. Large bone-in chicken breasts will roast for about 40 to 45 minutes in this manner; if you’re substituting chicken legs or thighs, start checking earlier.

When an instant-read thermometer reads 165° F, brush the chicken with your favorite barbecue sauce, and put it back over the direct fire for a few minutes more to caramelize the sauce.

The final step is to let the chicken rest for at least 5 minutes after it comes off the grill. This lets the juices redistribute, so the chicken meat is evenly moist throughout.

Great Sauces For Grilled Chicken:
Classic Kansas City Barbecue Sauce
Memphis-Style Barbecue Sauce
Georgia Peach Barbecue Sauce
Asian-Style Barbecue Sauce
Sweet Cola Barbecue Sauce
South Carolina Honey Mustard Sauce

More Grilled Chicken Recipes
Grill-Roasted Honey Barbecue Chicken
Thyme-Grilled Chicken Dijon
Beer-Brined Butterflied Chicken
Grilled Thai Chicken Breasts with an Herb-Lemongrass Crust
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
Grilled Chicken with Apricot Balsamic Glaze

Related Articles:
Chicken Thighs Take a Turn on the Grill
A Shortcut to Juicy Chicken
How to Barbecue Chicken Without Burning It
Four Ways to Grill Moist, Tender Chicken Breasts
Tandoori Chicken on the Grill

Other lessons in this series
Classic Ultimate Burgers New York Strip Steaks with Blue Cheese Butter How to Start a Charcoal Fire
Lesson 1: The Perfect Burger
Lesson 2: Great Steaks on the Grill Lesson 3: How to Start a Charcoal Fire
The Two-Zone Fire Buttermilk Brined Chicken Breasts How to Add Smoke to a Gas Grill
Lesson 4: The Two-Zone Fire Lesson 5: How to Grill Bone-In Chicken Parts Lesson 6: How to Add Smoke to a Gas Grill
Grilled Fish Tacos Lump vs. Briquette Charcoal Fred's Ultimate Smoked Pork Shoulder
Lesson 7: How to Grill Fish Lesson 8: Lump vs. Briquette Charcoal Lesson 9: Slow-Smoked Pork Shoulder
Fred's Finest Baby Back Ribs
Lesson 10: Real Barbecued Ribs


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