The Secret to Tender, Juicy Chicken: Brines
Brining, soaking in a solution of salt and water, is a natural for chicken as it helps the meat stay tender and juicy by changing its structure to hold more moisture. As the meat soaks in a brine (usually around 5 percent salt by weight), its weight increases by 10 percent, helping to offset some of the moisture it loses when cooked.
Some chefs won’t think of grilling chicken without a quick brine first. Works wonders with pork too.
Try It! Grilled Beer-Brined Chicken
The Secret to Flavor and Moisture-Lock: Marinades
Marinating chicken in an acidic liquid such as vinegar, wine, citrus, yogurt or buttermilk helps the meat absorb deep flavors, including the marinade’s herbs and spices, and retain moisture. The acid also acts as a tenderizer for tough cuts of meat.
Two safety rules:
Never marinate meat in aluminum containers. Instead, opt for glass, ceramic or stainless.
To avoid any food-safety issues, don’t reuse marinades that have touched raw meat without boiling them for 1 minute first.
Try It! Grilled Margarita Chicken with Yogurt Sauce
The Secret to an Intense Flavor Burst: Rubs
While brines and marinades help imbue the entire cut of chicken with flavor, rubs are all about bringing bold seasoning into direct contact with the meat’s surface.
Using a rub is simple: Just combine the spice mix and spread it over the outside of the meat. As the chicken grills, the heat of the barbecue will caramelize the spices in the rub for even deeper, bolder flavor. For more impact, give your chicken a rub down as far in advance as possible.
Try It! Ultimate Barbecue-Rubbed Chicken
The Secret to Quick Layers of Flavor: Sauces
Sauces, which include endless versions of honey, barbecue or sweet n’ sour, add richness, texture and flavor to grilled chicken. Brush on the sauce carefully during the last 10 minutes of grilling, and turn the meat so the sugars in the sauce don’t burn, leaving you with an unpleasant char.
Try It! Chipotle Chicken and Vegetable Skewers