Some good grilling tips for how to grill juicy chicken, courtesy of El Pollo Loco.
Invest in a meat thermometer or “temperature probe.” This is an essential tool for preparing perfectly grilled chicken. To check the internal temperature of chicken, place the thermometer into the meat where the leg and thigh come together, taking care not to touch bone.
Always grill chicken over a low to medium flame or charcoal temperature. Experiment with the setting, cooking at the highest temperature possible without flame flare-ups. Such flare-ups will cause the chicken to cook too fast, resulting in chicken that is charred on the outside, yet not fully cooked on the inside. If flare-ups occur, lift the chicken off the grill for a moment and move it to another area of the grill; reduce the flame if necessary.
Begin cooking the chicken by placing it on the grill cavity-side down. During grilling, turn the chicken three times. Turn it the first time when the skin begins to lose moisture, and the chicken becomes rigid. Turn it a second time when the juices pool in the cavity. Turn the chicken a third time when the internal temperature reaches approximately 165 degrees. Finish by cooking the chicken, cavity side up, with a higher flame to crisp the skin.
For barbecue chicken, baste with your favorite BBQ sauce before and after the last turn. Grill marks that appear as you cook the basted chicken signal that sugars in the sauce are “caramelizing,” producing the most intense flavors.
The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees. Remove it from the grill and cut the chicken into individual pieces. Remember– grilling is an art, not a science, so it’s important to practice, practice again, and then practice some more. That’s why the experts at El Pollo Loco are so good at what they do.