Fins and Feathers on the Grill
Pretty much everyone has grilled chicken, but when it comes to grilling fish and other seafood, many are a little hesitant. Don’t be. It’s much easier than you think to turn seafood into seared food.
But first, let’s look at grilling chicken and what you might not know.
I never bothered to learn how to grill chicken properly. It seemed a waste of time and sort of, well, beneath the image I have of myself as King Griller. Besides, I was satisfied with how my chicken turned out. But, once I did some research on it I found that, yeah, maybe I didn’t know so much.
Now my grilled chicken is even better—and my reputation hasn’t suffered a bit! Maybe you know all this, but these seven tips adapted from Good Housekeeping helped me step up my game:
Grease your grill: I did do this, even though I usually grill with skin on and either marinated or rubbed in some oil, depending upon what else we’re having. But play it safe. Before lighting your grill, spray the grate with a cooking spray or brush with oil. Can’t hurt.
Heat it up: Sear the chicken to seal in the juices and to make it easier to turn your chicken.
Seasoning: Many marinades and basting sauces have high sugar content and can burn if your grill temp is too hot. Hot is good for quick-cooking cuts (skinless, boneless breasts) while a lower heat works better for longer-cooking cuts (bone-in parts). Basting? Hold off until the chicken is almost fully cooked.
Close it down: If you have a cover, always close it. This will make your grill work more like an oven and you’ll have fewer flare-ups.
Patience is a virtue: Resist the temptation to move your chicken while it cooks. Follow recipe instructions or turn just once midway in the process.
No poking: Use long-handled tongs or a wide spatula to move your chicken. Poking with a fork allows precious juices to escape. Bad choice.
No pink: Don’t risk serving under-cooked chicken. Use a meat thermometer to test. 180 degrees for a whole chicken, 170 degrees for breasts. Alternately, make a small cut into the thickest part to check for pink.
If you want to grill a whole chicken, try this recipe:
- 1 (4-pound) whole chicken
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons of your favorite dry spice rub
- 1 can beer (or other favorite drink)
Remove neck and giblets from chicken and discard. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub chicken lightly with oil then rub inside and out with salt, pepper, and dry rub. Set aside.
Open beer can (or try a cola, root beer, or any other liquid placed in a rinsed out 12-ounce can) and take several gulps (make them big gulps so the can is half full). Place beer can on a solid surface. Grabbing a chicken leg in each hand, plunk the bird cavity over the beer can. Transfer the bird-on-a-can to your grill and place in the center of the grate, balancing the bird on its 2 legs and the can like a tripod. (See the Rosle Chicken Roaster or do a whole meal at once with the BeeRoaster with Potato Clips.)
Cook the chicken over medium-high, indirect heat (i.e. no coals or burners on directly under the bird), with the grill cover on, for approximately 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F in the breast area and 180 degrees F in the thigh, or until the thigh juice runs clear when stabbed with a sharp knife. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Other recipes with grilled chicken:
OK, raise your hand if you’re afraid to grill fish. Don’t be shy. I certainly was. In fact, cooking fish at all is not a favorite task. But grilling? Oy. Then I discovered it’s just not that hard. Here are five tips, adapted from the folks at StartCooking.com.
Think thick: Steaks from tuna, swordfish, mahi-mahi, and salmon do well, but also consider trout, red snapper, striped bass, and bluefish—if you can get past the eyes and tail! Frankly, those do me in. Tender fillets (sole, flounder, tilapia) don’t fare as well because they tend to break up and fall through the grate. But you can grill them if you consider a grill basket.
Planking isn’t just an old fad: Consider a CHEFS Cedar Grilling Plank. Another great option for the tender fillets. Grilling on a wood plank provides a nice smoky flavor. Presoak the plank, arrange fish on top, cover and grill.
Marinade: A simple mix of oil, vinegar, and your favorite spices is all it takes. Or, coat tuna or swordfish in mayonnaise, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, and slap it on a hot grill—a few minutes each side.
It’s done when: Rule of thumb: eight minutes per inch of thickness—10 minutes if you’re grilling whole fish. But check it two minutes before you think it should be done. (Handy hint: Everything, not just fish, continues to cook for a few minutes after it leaves the grill.)
- 1 medium nectarine, peeled and chopped
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped cucumber
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
- 2 teaspoons chopped seeded jalapeno pepper
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
- 2 mahi mahi fillets (6 ounces each)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Dash salt
For salsa, in a small bowl, combine the first nine ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Drizzle fillets with oil; sprinkle with salt. Using long-handled tongs moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack. Grill fillets, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until fish just turns opaque. Serve with salsa.
Yield: 2 servings.
Other recipes with grilled seafood:
Want to know more about grilling? Check out our other blogs on the subject here at CHEFS Mix:
- Grilling Pork and Beef
- Vegetables and Fruits on the Grill
- Fins and Feathers on the Grill
- A Tasty Barbecue Tour
- Fire up the Grill!
Your turn: What’s your favorite thing to fix on the grill?