When you boil chicken before grilling, the meat becomes softer and more tender. You have to be careful, though, because it's easy to overcook the meat, which will affect its flavor and moisture.
To prepare your chicken for a BBQ, you can marinate or brine it before cooking. You can also boil or poach the chicken, then finish it on the grill to add flavor.
Making Chicken Moist and Flavorful
Grilling your food gives it a unique flavor that broiling or frying can't match. This cooking method is suitable for vegetables, meat and some fruits. At the end of your grilling session, you can even throw marshmallows onto a stick and cook up s'mores.
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To barbecue chicken, all you need is a grill and some sauce to slather on the meat while it cooks. The biggest problem when you cook poultry on a grill is that it gets dry and there isn't much natural flavor. To solve this problem, you can boil chicken before a BBQ.
The fat in other meats, such as sausages and steak, gives the food gristly flavor and makes it tender. Chicken has various amounts of fat, depending on what part you use. The breast is low in fat compared to other parts, like the thigh. There are 3.5 grams of fat in a 4-ounce serving of chicken breast, according to the USDA — compared to 8 grams of fat in the same amount of skinless chicken thighs.
To put that in perspective, 4 ounces of cooked beef steak contains about 15 grams of fat. That's likely why grilled steak is so delicious. Fat burns off as you cook your chicken, and since there's so little in the meat, it can burn off quickly.
If your problem when barbecuing chicken is that it always comes out dry, consider preparing the meat before you cook it. Marinating the poultry before it hits the grill can saturate it with moisture and make the finished product juicier and tastier.
Marinate and Brine Chicken
When you marinate chicken, you soak it in sauce and then refrigerate it for a few hours. You can marinate the meat in barbecue sauce or make your own at home with olive oil, spices, salt and pepper. You can also try using pomegranate juice. According to a February 2018 study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology, pomegranate-based marinades help preserve chicken meat and enhance the texture.
If you'd prefer to smoke the meat, marinating it beforehand will help. A pilot study published in December 2016 in Food Science and Biotechnology has found that marinating and smoking chicken made it moister than smoking alone. As the researchers note, it also gave chicken the best flavor.
Brining is another method of moisturizing chicken before you cook it. While traditional marinades use a sauce to cover the meat, brining requires full submersion of the chicken in liquid while it rests.
Start by selecting a bowl that can fit all of your chicken. Then, fill the container with water and something else like broth or wine for extra flavor. Next, add copious amounts of salt. If you have non-iodized salt, you'll add a quarter cup for every 4 cups of water.
Once the salt is added, you can move on to other spices. Basil, bay leaf, pepper, thyme and oregano are all great options. Leave the brine for a few hours or overnight. When you're ready to grill the chicken, simply remove it from the brine, pat it dry with a towel and throw it on.
Brine boiling chicken is another cooking option, where you put the chicken in a pot with the brine and bring it to a boil. When you boil chicken in a brine before grilling, you add flavor and moisture to the meat.
Poach or Parboil Chicken
If you tried to boil chicken before grilling but found it too tough, there's another option. You can turn down the heat and poach your chicken. It's a better option for delicate foods, according to an article from Utah State University Extension.
When you poach, the temperature of the water should be between 160 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit. You might not even see the water bubbling, so using a thermometer to check the temperature will help.
To poach your chicken, start by tying together thyme and bay leaves with string. Then, heat a large pot over medium heat and add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat the chicken for about five minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Add onion, carrots, celery, herbs and seasoning to taste.
Pour enough water in the pot to cover the chicken and herbs. Cover it and heat until the water begins to boil. Then, remove the lid and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes.
Finally, remove the pot from the heat source and cover it up. Let it stand for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Keep in mind that you can parboil chicken before throwing it on the grill by taking it out of the water early.
- Utah State University Extension: "Moist Cooking"
- Food Science and Biotechnology: "Effects of Smoking and Marination on the Sensory Characteristics of Cold-Cut Chicken Breast Filets: A Pilot Study"
- International Journal of Food Microbiology: "Effect of Pomegranate Based Marinades on the Microbiological, Chemical and Sensory Quality of Chicken Meat: A Metabolomics Approach"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Beef Steak, NS as to Cooking Method, Lean and Fat Eaten"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Chicken, Thigh, Roasted, Broiled, or Baked, Skin Not Eaten"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Chicken Breast"