A chicken drumstick, thigh or kebab on the barbecue is always a winner but sometimes when we’re out in the garden enjoying a drink or two with friends our normal kitchen common sense goes out the window. Here’s how to prepare and cook chicken on the barbecue safelyto avoid any possible tummy upsets. By Nichola Palmer, goodtoknow recipes editor
Learn how to BBQ a chicken the right way with our top 10 cooking tips. Our tips will make sure youre chicken is cooked to perfection, in the safest way possible and you of course have fun in the process.
A chicken drumstick, thigh or kebab on the barbecue is always a winner but sometimes when we’re out in the garden enjoying a drink or two with friends our normal kitchen common sense goes out the window.
Our top 10 tips for cooking chicken on the BBQ are sure to help you out. From defrosting chicken thoroughly before cooking to the right time to apply your marinade, this handy guide is all about safety.
Here are our 10 top tips for barbecuing chicken safely to avoid any possible tummy upsets…
Smaller chicken portions can be defrosted in the microwave if time is short, but preferably pop it in the fridge the night before in a dish, to catch any juices, on a low shelf so it doesn’t drip onto other food. The Food Standards Agency advise not to rinse raw chicken before cooking as it spreads bacteria.
Any leftover marinade should be thrown away and not served as dip or sauce, unless you boil it thoroughly first, and never pour any shop-bought marinade or sauce back into the bottle to use again.
Any chopping boards, knives, plates and dishes used for preparing raw chicken should be thoroughly washed in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher before using them for cooked chicken. Once you start to barbecue, have a clean dish or tray to hand for the cooked chicken.
If cooking chicken on the bone (like drumsticks and thighs) cut a couple of deep slashes through the thickest part of the meat. This will allow the heat to penetrate and cook more evenly. Any marinade or spice rub used will also give more flavour to the chicken rather than just coating the outside.
Cut the chicken into even-sized chunks and avoid cramming too many pieces onto each skewer. Loosely-loaded kebabs will allow the heat to circulate, cooking the chicken more evenly and quickly and keeping it moist. Flat skewers rather than rounded ones will help stop food spinning around making them easier to turn.
It's a bit tricky cooking a whole chicken on the barbecue, but the key things are temperature control and a kettle-style barbecue with a domed lid. With the lid on, the barbecue will cook like an oven giving an all round heat for more even cooking.
Spatchcocking simply means the chicken is cut open and flattened so it cooks more evenly. Using sturdy scissors, place the chicken breast-side down on aboard and cut along either side of the backbone. Open the chicken out, turn it over and press down firmly with the heel of your hand to flatten. To keep the chicken flat push two skewers diagonally through the thigh on one side to the breast and wing on the other side.
Light the coals well inadvance (about 40-50 mins before you want to start cooking) and wait until they are glowing red with a powdery grey surface. If you start cooking too soon you’ll have more flames than heat and end up with chicken that's burnt on the outside and raw in the middle. Have a water spray to hand in case of flare-ups to quickly dampen down any flames.
Generally the centre of the grill will be the hottest spot so keep turning the chicken and moving it around the grill, if there are that seem too hot move the chicken to the edges where it will be cooler. The height of the grill affects the temperature too, the nearer to the coals the hotter it will be. If you have a big enough cooking area create a cooler section by pushing most of the coals to one side.
Before serving always check the chicken is completely cooked. Take a clean knife or skewer and insert it into the thickest part of the chicken, as you remove it the juices should run clear. If the juices are pink, cook for a further 10 minutes and check again. If necessary finish the chicken in the oven at 180C (350F, gas mark 4) testing it every 10 minutes.