Grilling Tips for Poultry
Understanding the two most popular grilling styles, Direct and Indirect, is essential to creating a perfect grilled entrée. There are instances when both Direct and Indirect methods are appropriate. The Direct method sears the food in order to create a flavorful crust on the surface, followed by Indirect to prevent burning outside of the food while cooking evenly. The following is a quick reference for cooking method and approximate cooking time for poultry.
|Chicken Breast 5-6 oz||Direct||6-7 minutes each side||Medium heat to prevent drying out|
|Chicken Legs||Direct||15-22 minutes each side||Grill with chicken legs placed 5-6 inches above direct fire. Medium heat to prevent drying out.|
|Chicken, Whole||Indirect||15-20 minutes per pound||Use medium heat to prevent drying out. Keep grill covered.|
|Indirect||1-1¼ hours||Medium heat to prevent drying out. Keep grill covered.|
|Turkey Drumstick ½ lb.||Indirect||1-1½ hours|
|Turkey, whole (unstuffed)||Indirect||20-25 minutes per pound||Use medium heat to prvent drying out. Keep grill covered.|
|Turkey Burger ½ inch thick||Direct||4-6 minutes each side|
Tips & Techniques:
Flatten chicken breasts so that they are more uniform in thickness. If cooking a whole chicken, it should be butterflied for even cooking. To butterfly, cut along each side of the backbone and then remove it. Turn chicken breast side up and use the heel of your hand to press down on the breast to break the breastbone, flattening the chicken. Use skewers to help the bird lay flat by threading one skewer through a wing, through the breast, and out the other wing. Thread a second skewer into a thigh, through the bottom part of the breast, and out the other thigh.
When grilling or broiling, the chicken will have a tendency to dry out so it must be watched carefully during the cooking process. Coating the chicken with a little oil or marinating it will aid in preventing it from drying out while cooking. A medium heat should be used when grilling chicken. Using too high of a heat will cause some parts to cook too quickly and dry out while other parts will not be done all the way through.
When selecting a whole turkey for grilling, it is best to choose one that is not too large. A 16-pound turkey is the largest size that is safe to grill. The grilling process does not allow the internal temperature of larger turkeys to reach a sufficient temperature quickly enough to destroy harmful bacteria within a safe time period. A smaller turkey is also easier to handle when moving and turning it on the grilling surface.
To prevent dryness, leave the skin on the chicken during cooking, which helps preserves the chicken's natural moisture. To speed grilling or broiling time, partially cook the chicken in the microwave first. Microwave on high approximately 4 to 5 minutes per pound, or 3 to 4 minutes if using cut up parts. Grill or broil the microwaved pieces of chicken immediately to finish cooking.
When Indirect grilling, remember to keep lid down, opening can add from 10-15 minutes onto grilling time.
Do not use a fork to turn the meat as you are grilling. The piercing causes the juices to escape. A long-handled spatula or tong is more appropriate.
Oil grates with no-stick spray (or brush oil on grates) before starting grill to prevent food from sticking.
Safe Internal Temperatures
Keep yourself, friends, and family safe from food borne illness. To accurately check temperature, the thermometer must be stuck through the thickest part of the meat and away from any bones (bones conduct heat).
Poultry is generally safe at 160º, though waiting until it reaches 180º is recommended.