Chicken isn’t fowl when it’s cooked right |

Chicken isn’t fowl when it’s cooked right

Chef Mick Rosacci
Special to the Daily Orange ginger glazed chicken wings are one reason why chicken makes an easy dish for a cookout.

Does your grilled chicken turn out burned on the outside and raw in the middle? Is it tough and dry? We can fix that. Chicken is one of the finest meats to ever come off a grill – when cooked correctly.

That delicious skin can be problematic. Made up of mostly fat, chicken skin burns quickly, and its drippings flare up and out of control. One solution is to remove the skin. Skinless chicken is much easier to grill over direct heat, but stay close; it can still burn.

Whether you remove the skin or not, grilling with indirect heat is almost fool-proof. Indirect grilling, or surrounding your chicken with heat, cooks slowly and evenly.

To prepare an indirect grill: Light one or two of your grill’s burners (or build a charcoal fire to one side), and cook your chicken away from the flame with the lid closed. This is also a great time to use wood chips for a smokier flavor.

While barbecue sauces and glazes are amazing on grilled chicken, they can burn before you know it – especially those containing sugar. Unless you are willing to constantly monitor your grill, avoid the urge to sauce your chicken until the end of cooking time. When your chicken is almost done, brush on all the sauce you want, but keep rotating as needed until the chicken is sizzling and glazed.

One of the biggest problems with chicken is overcooking. We’ve all been taught to cook chicken fully, but that extra 10 minutes or so “just to be sure” doesn’t make your chicken safer, it makes it tough and dry. Chicken is perfectly safe when cooked to 160 degrees in the breasts and 180 degrees in the legs and thighs.

A reliable quick read meat thermometer is highly recommended!

Learn more at

Other moisture issues include freezing and “enhanced” chicken. When chicken freezes, it damages delicate cell walls, causing the meat to lose valuable natural juices when it thaws. To combat this (and increase profits), most producers now “enhance” their chicken, injecting it with water and chemical flavorings. This increases the flavor and moisture of lesser quality or frozen chicken, while it increases the sellable weight by about 15 percent. For the best tasting chicken possible, buy fresh, natural chickens (this means there are no additives) that have never been chilled below 32 degrees (most “fresh” chicken is stored at 26 degrees).

Properly grilled chicken is delicious enough for company, and affordable enough for the family. With a little understanding, practice and a reliable meat thermometer, you can grill some of the best chicken you’ve ever tasted. Fire up that grill.

Buon appetito. Salùte!

– Chef Michael Angelo (Mick) Rosacci and family own and operate Tony’s Meats & Specialty Foods and Tony Rosacci’s Fine Catering in Littleton and Centennial.

More recipes are available at

Grilled apple chicken

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

12 ounce container frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed

1/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 large Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into thick rings

Preheat grill to medium (if using gas grill), or until charcoal is covered with gray ash and is medium-hot.

In a small saucepan, combine apple juice concentrate, honey, lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon; mix well. Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved (about 3 minutes). Set aside 1 cup of mixture to serve as sauce; use remaining for basting. Arrange apple rings on grill and brush with basting sauce. Grill for about 8 minutes per side, basting often. Meanwhile, grill chicken for about 5 minutes per side, basting often, until juices run clear. Discard leftover basting sauce.

Serve chicken and apples with reserved sauce. Serves eight.

Ginger chicken kabobs

6 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 stalk lemon grass, chopped

1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced

2 cloves garlic

4 scallions, cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

In bowl of food processor, place canola oil, rice vinegar, sugar, salt, lemon grass, ginger and garlic cloves. Process until lemon grass is chopped fully, about 3 minutes. Transfer to glass bowl. Add chicken thighs to bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours, preferably overnight.

Prepare charcoal or gas grill, or preheat oven broiler. Thread chicken pieces and scallions onto skewers. Place on grill and cook, turning once, until chicken is firm and opaque, about 6 to 8 minutes per side. Plate on serving platter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Orange ginger glazed chicken wings

2 pounds chicken wings (about 24)

1/2 cup orange juice concentrate, undiluted

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup Hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 scallions, slivered

In a large plastic, resealable bag, place orange juice concentrate, lemon juice, Hoisin, canola oil, ginger and garlic. Seal and shake to mix. Add chicken wings, seal and shake to coat evenly. Refrigerate overnight, turning once or twice.

Grill wings over indirect medium coals, turning regularly, take care not to let them burn. When done, transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with scallions.

Smoky honey glazed chicken

1 fresh frying chicken, about 3 pounds

Seasoned salt of your choice


Mesquite or hickory logs / chunks

Build a fire using equal parts of large hickory chunks and charcoal briquettes.

Once coals are ready, move to one side of your grill, or spread in a circle around the outside of grill. Place a disposable pie tin under cooking grid away from coals to capture drippings, add water to pan.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle inside and out with seasoning and place over drip pan. Cook slowly, adding more briquettes and wood chunks as needed, to 180 degrees in the thigh (usually about 60 to 90 minutes). Take care not to let the fire get too hot or too close to the chicken or drip pan to avoid flare-ups. Brush chicken with honey just before removing it from the grill.

*For gas grills: Wrap soaked wood chips in foil packets. Pierce foil with a fork and place below grate over the hottest part of your gas grill.

**Variation: Beer Can Chicken: open a can of beer making several holes in the top with a church key. Drink about 1/2 cup of beer then add 1 tablespoon grilling spices to remaining beer in can. Position chicken ‘sitting’ on can of beer and grill with indirect heat.

Lemon pepper breasts with thyme gremolata

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

Sea or Kosher Salt

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts

For gremolata:

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest


Lemon slices

Thyme sprigs

In a bowl whisk together lemon juice, pepper and salt to taste and add oil in a stream, whisking until marinade is emulsified. With a rolling pin or smooth side of a meat pounder flatten chicken 1/4-inch thick between sheets of plastic wrap. In a large resealable plastic bag marinate chicken in marinade, chilled, 30 minutes.

Prepare grill. Make gremolata: In a small bowl stir together gremolata ingredients. Grill chicken on an oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals until just cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side.

Serve chicken sprinkled with gremolata and garnished with lemon and thyme.

Yield: 6 servings

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