Grilled Chicken 101 — Weekend Cookout

Marinated Chicken Thighs

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

You’ve heard it before about this most beloved white meat: Grilled chicken can be boring. Sure, on its own, plain grilled chicken can be bland and dry, but it doesn’t have to — and should not be that way. To take everyday chicken to the next delicious level, try switching up cuts of chicken, experimenting with new cooking techniques and adding marinades, rubs and sauces to ensure moist, flavorful results. Follow Food Network's three simple suggestions below to cook up crave-worthy chicken in a flash.

Buy a Better Bird:

Instead of reaching for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, give chicken thighs a chance instead. Dark meat is a tad fattier, so it’s inherently juicer and more flavorful. If you prefer lean white meat, however, look for bone-in chicken breasts — cooking chicken on the bone helps the meat maintain moisture.

Master the Grill:

When it comes to grilling, it can seem as though there are only two temperatures — hot and hotter — and no easy way to control them. If you divide the grill so that on one side there’s a cluster of charcoal and on the other side nothing, you’ll have created two distinct cooking spaces — one with direct heat, another with indirect — and two widely disparate temperatures. Start by grilling the chicken over indirect heat and move it to direct heat in the final few minutes of cooking — this will turn out golden, crispy chicken with enviable grill marks. Check out these step-by-step photos and this easy-to-follow video to learn more simple grilling techniques.

Flavor 3 Ways:

First, let the meat marinate in a mix of your favorite spices, herbs and sauces — this will give it a chance to absorb those tastes and take on the flavor of the marinade. To add further flavor while it cooks, baste the chicken with a barbecue sauce or glaze. If you choose to baste, be sure to separate the sauces, bowls and all cooking utensils that have come in contact with raw chicken from those that have not — you don’t want to cross-contaminate cooked chicken by brushing it with a glaze that touched raw poultry. As a final means to add flavor, serve chicken with a topping of reserved marinade, spicy sauces, fresh salsas and more.

Iron Chef Marc Forgione’s easy recipe for Marinated Chicken Thighs (pictured above) is a party-ready dish that will wow your guests with its bold taste and texture. To prepare, Marc creates a flavor-packed combination of fresh herbs, garlic, shallots and a duo of peppercorns, and lets tender chicken thighs marinate in it overnight. When he’s ready to cook, he grills the chicken for just 7-8 minutes per side until it’s moist, tender and deliciously juicy.

Visit Food Network for more must-try grilled chicken recipes and how-to grilling videos.

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