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Old 02-12-2013, 12:36 AM   #1
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Help with chicken breasts on gas grill

Hi everyone. I'm fairly new here and I've looking for some help with cooking chicken on the BBQ. I'm having trouble getting chicken breasts cooked to be juicy and tasty and I could use some help figuring out what I need to do differently. I'm not an experienced chef and a lot of the posts I've read are somewhat vague, as in "put on medium heat" which seems like it could vary a lot from BBQ to BBQ. I think most are intended for more experienced cooks who know how to deal with these things.

I'm cooking boneless, skinless chicken breasts that are about 1/3 to 1/2 pound each.

I'm using a Weber Genesis gas grill that has three burners that run across the grill: one in front, one in the middle, and one across the back. Each burner has a plate that prevents direct flame on the grill (indirect heat). There is also a thermometer in the lid.

So I typically put olive oil on the chicken and have tried some spices. My wife has complained about the marinades I've tried but maybe I just haven't tried the right one yet.

Part of the problem is that I rarely have much time to prepare the food before cooking. With work and family life things get a bit rushed. I usually have less than 90 minutes from the time I start to when the food should be ready, and I'm trying to prepare other dishes at the same time. If I have to, I can probably prepare things the night before.

So that's probably more information than you wanted to read but maybe some of you experienced cooks can suggest a way to turn this cooking problem around?

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Old 02-12-2013, 06:28 AM   #2
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There are tons of concoctions to soak the meat in. Experiment until you find the flavor you want. I pound my Chicken breast to reduce the thicker end. This help it to cook more evenly and still get done. If you are just starting I would recommend purchasing a good instant read thermometer. Lots of people way over cook chicken for fear of undercooking. I cook mine to 165 F at the thickest part., then tent with Al foil when done for 5-10 minutes. Another option is to partially cook on the grill and finish in the oven. Just some thoughts.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:34 AM   #3
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Hi. I like to marinate in Italian salad dressing, among other things. For grilling, try turning on just one burner; cook 3-4 minutes per side to get some color, then move the meat to a part of the grill where the burner is off, to let it finish cooking. This mimics the conditions in the oven.

You can also serve it with a sauce, to make it more interesting, such as bbq or tzatziki. Hth.
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:16 AM   #4
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Forget the boneless, skinless breasts.
You can get bone in cheaper, and you will have
much better results! Just remove the skin after
grilling the breast.
And get an instant read thermometer and use it
to determine when your meat is cooked. Eventually,
you will be able to do it by feel, but the thermometer
is the best way to train yourself.
I like to put a meat rub on the meat, under the skin, and
some on the skin too, before I grill.
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:17 AM   #5
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It's really simple. You need a higher heat to quickly brown the outside if the chicken breasts followed by lower indirect heat to finish cooking the interior. You can sear them over one burner (e.g. the front one) then move the met to the back of the grill or onto the warming rack to finish slowly.

As far as where to set the burner, you have to experiment a little. After warming the grill, set it at half way and brown the exterior directly over the burner. Then the meat goes to the warming rack and adjust the burner so the hood thermometer registers around 350F.

You really must have an instant read thermometer. Chicken breasts are done @ an internal temperature of 161F. If you can cook them to only that temp and take them off the grill, they will be juicy. If your chicken is dry, you cooked it too much.

There are countless marinade recipes for chicken so you have to experiment. You start by making a marinade and marinating the chicken for an hour, then cook it on the grill. That should take no more that 30 minutes.
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Old 02-12-2013, 11:26 AM   #6
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To add a little to Andy's remarks. Make sure the grill is medium hot - 375-400 before starting the cook. Grease the grill grates before starting, douse a folded paper towel with a little oil and hold the towel in a pair of tongs and rub the area on the cooking grates. If there was not much fat in your marinade, rub the bird parts w/ oil too.

The browning should take only about 3 -5 minutes. With Skinless, I don't try to achieve the depth of color/ browning the same as if it were skin-on. Don't crowd the meat pieces. Don't try and turn them too soon or the meat will stick to the grill. When the chix releases easily, you can turn them over. Then move to an un lit burner area for indirect cooking. I like to turn the grill temp down so it will end up at about 325. It takes awhile for the temp to diminish. I don't find it necessary to turn the chicken over once it's on indirect. You can certainly do so if you like. When it's nearly done, paint it with some bbq sauce if using, then flip, paint again. You can move the chicken back over the fire if you want the sauce to carmelize or show grill marks. If the sauce is going on the side, then just leave the chicken be. I find boneless skinless chicken breast is often done at about 20 minutes total start to finish, so I plan my sauce brushing accordingly. Always use tongs and never a fork when moving any meat on the grill. Forks cause juices to escape. If you get a little fire flare up, that's ok, close the cover. But keep a spray bottle water handy if you are cooking a lot of chicken at one time.

Remove to platter and cover loosely with a foil tent and let rest a few minutes before serving. Temp willl rise a little. If your chicken, like mine sometims may seem a little dry, have some sauce to spoon over or a complimentary dipping sauce or salsa or even just a few slices of grilled canned or fresh pineapple to serve alongside.

So many Don'ts, I wish this were edited into all Do This's. The Biggest Do This I know, is grill chicken more often so you become more familiar with how you and it relate with each other. Pay attention to the markings on your burner knobs until you are more comfortable making temp adjustments, and learn when it is approx times to turn or move the chicken around.
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Old 02-12-2013, 11:32 AM   #7
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I don't use a thermometer, but I cheat and brine the breasts before BBQing. Grilling Fool is right, bone in is much more foolproof, and Andy's method is great too. I'm a lazy butt and just toss frozen breasts into brine til they're thawed enough to hit the grill and then do them pretty much as Andy suggests, only I don't have a thermometer. I just sort of push on them to see how much give they have. When they bounce back, and don't mush in the middle, I pull them off.
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Old 02-12-2013, 11:37 AM   #8
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I agree that bone-in, skin-on breast halves are much better to cook on the grill. They're easier to keep from overcooking.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:28 PM   #9
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I only grill chicken breasts if I am using them in something I want to see the grillmarks, like sliced in a grilled chicken salad or something. I've never been a fan myself of a B/S chicken breast. They do seem to be the healthy food of choice though.
I do the whole thing indirect, but run my grill hotter. It sears and colors it well enough and no flare ups if it's dripping with marinade. If it's lacking in color for some reason I will move it over the flame right before I pull it off. Pretty much the same way I grill wings.
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Old 02-12-2013, 01:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacanis View Post
I only grill chicken breasts if I am using them in something I want to see the grillmarks, like sliced in a grilled chicken salad or something. I've never been a fan myself of a B/S chicken breast. They do seem to be the healthy food of choice though.
I do the whole thing indirect, but run my grill hotter. It sears and colors it well enough and no flare ups if it's dripping with marinade. If it's lacking in color for some reason I will move it over the flame right before I pull it off. Pretty much the same way I grill wings.

I like that technique Pac. I should try this. I use a charcoal grill mostly, not my gasser. I'm planning grilling B/S chix breasts towards the end of the week. I bought a whole family pack at Costco not that long ago. They are inid. wrapped and I just tucked them in the freezer for use on demand.
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