Get Grilling: How to Make the Best Ember-Grilled Chicken

Charcoal grilled chicken, an ancient technique also known as “caveman style,” is redefining the culinary arts by taking barbecue back to its primitive roots, where food is cooked directly over hot coals.

Among the variety of ingredients suitable for this method, chicken stands out as a popular choice for its adaptability and flavor affinity with the intensity of smoked embers, and grilled chicken recipes that apply this time-honored approach promise a sensory experience that modern grills struggle to replicate.

With the appeal of charred edges and a succulent interior, chargrilled chicken offers a compelling reason for enthusiasts to embrace glowing coals.

Ember-Grilled Chicken

This article delves into the art of making the best coal-grilled chicken, offering valuable insights from choosing the perfect chicken cut to mastering the marinating process. The following sections will guide readers through preparing the proper bed of coals on the grill, monitoring the critical points of grill temperature, and executing the grilling process. accurately.

We'll also discuss how to ensure that grilled chicken breasts or other cuts of choice reach the perfect degree of doneness, resulting in a feast that matches the primal joy of open-fire cooking. With these carefully selected steps, readers will be equipped to turn their barbecue and chicken recipes into masterpieces over the coals.

Choose suitable grilled chicken pieces

When embarking on your chargrilled chicken adventure, choosing the right cut is crucial to achieving the perfect balance of flavor and texture. Here are the best chicken cuts to consider in grilled chicken recipes:

Bone-in chicken breasts:
  • Structure: Bone provides a natural scaffold that helps the chicken maintain its shape while grilling.
  • Flavor and Moisture: Cooking with bones can enhance the chicken's flavor and help retain moisture, resulting in juicier grilled chicken breasts.
  • Grilling Technique: It is important to grill bone-in breasts over indirect heat to allow the inside to cook well without burning the outside. For a comprehensive guide on grilling these cuts to perfection, visit  Grilled Lemon-Herb Bone-In Chicken Breasts .
Chicken thighs:
  • Rich Flavor: Drumsticks are known for their rich, juicy taste, making them a favorite among barbecue enthusiasts.
  • Affordability: Not only does it provide deeper flavor, it's also more affordable than some other cuts.
  • Ideal grilling temperature: To get the desired crispy skin and ensure the interior is cooked to a safe temperature, aim for a grill temperature of around 350°F.
  • Internal Temperature Goal: The goal is to reach an internal temperature of 160-165°F, ensuring the chicken cooks without drying out. For detailed instructions on getting perfect grilled chicken thighs, see Temperature for Grilling Chicken Thighs.

By choosing bone-in chicken breasts or chicken thighs, you can be sure that your coal-roasted chicken is not only cooked to safe temperatures but also full of flavor and juiciness that will please any palate. Remember, the key to a successful chargrilled chicken lies not only in the preparation but also in the choice of cuts.

Preparation and seasoning

Before grilling, it is essential to prepare and season the chicken to impart flavors that will enhance your grilling experience. Here are some proven recipes and techniques for seasoning:

Dry Rub and BBQ Sauce:

  1. Start by mixing a dry rub consisting of olive oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar, salt, and black pepper. This mixture will create a delicious crust on the chicken while it's grilling.
  2. Rub the chicken pieces generously, making sure to cover all surfaces well.
  3. For an extra layer of flavor, brush the chicken with BBQ sauce before placing it on the coals. This will give the chicken a juicy, caramelized exterior.

Seasoning mixes:

  • Combine olive oil, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, rosemary, salt, and pepper for a classic marinade. Allow the chicken to marinate in this mixture for up to 4 hours to achieve a balance of tangy and salty flavour.
  • For an Asian flavour, marinate the chicken overnight in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic and ginger. This not only adds depth of flavour, but also tenderizes the meat.

Safety tips for grilling chicken over coals

  • Use natural charcoal pieces or pieces of hardwood to make a bed of embers, as these materials add a smoky flavor to the chicken.
  • Wait until the fire has died down to a steady layer of glowing embers before placing the chicken on the grill.
  • Always handle hot food with heat-resistant gloves and use tongs or a stiff-bristled brush for safety.
  • After removing the chicken from the coals, transfer it to an aluminum foil tray or heatproof dish to cool slightly before removing any excess ash.

Specialty marinade recipes:

  • This easy Lebanese chicken marinade requires lemon juice, peel of one lemon, olive oil, garlic powder, dried thyme, thyme mixture, and salt. Marinate the chicken overnight or for a few hours, then grill over low heat until well done.
  • To prepare grilled chicken thighs with Golden Ember sauce, marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours using the special Golden Ember sauce, then grill the chicken over high heat, then brush it with the marinade during cooking to obtain a rich flavour.
  • A versatile marinade for grilled chicken can be made with vegetable oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, black pepper, parsley, mustard, minced garlic, and honey. This mixture is perfect for the sweet and salty taste profile.
  • Tzatziki chicken skewers require a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, dried oregano, garlic powder, and salt. Marinate chicken pieces for 30 minutes to 2 hours for a refreshing herbal flavour.

By following these marinating techniques and safety tips, your grilled chicken recipes, especially grilled chicken breasts, will soar to new heights, resulting in a delicious meal cooked to perfection.

Prepare your grill using coals

To prepare an embers grill for grilled chicken recipes, follow these steps for the ideal cooking environment:

  1. Preparing wood chips:
    • Start by soaking the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes. This prevents it from burning too quickly and helps produce more smoke for a delicious grilled chicken breast experience. Soak wood chips
  2. Choosing the right wood:
    • Choose dried hardwoods such as walnut, ash, beech, oak, cherry or almond. These woods provide a robust flavor that complements the natural taste of the chicken. Use dried and seasoned hardwoods
  3. Construction and fire management:
    • Light your fire using selected hardwoods and let it burn until the wood turns to embers. This usually involves letting the fire burn out, which can take some time but is necessary to create the right cooking conditions. Let the fire burn
    • Once the main fire has died down, you can determine the heat level of the embers using a hand test: high heat is obtained if it takes 2-4 seconds to pull your hand away, medium heat in 5-7 seconds, and low heat in 8-10 seconds. Determine the temperature level
  4. Preparing the ember bed:
    • Prepare a layer of coals that is grayish-white and about two inches deep, which indicates that the coals are ready to cook. Preparing the coal bed
    • Place the grill grate over the coals when they reach the desired temperature to start grilling.
  5. Safety and maintenance:
    • Perform a leak test on your grill after assembly, before the first lighting, after any movement, when replacing the propane tank, and at least once a year, perform a leak test

By following these steps, you can create the perfect embers for grilling chicken. The smoky flavors from the wood chips and seasoned hardwoods will give your grilled chicken breasts rich, complex flavors that are difficult to achieve with other flavors.


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