With their manageable size, juicy texture, and fantastically savory flavor, it is no wonder that chicken drumsticks are such a common component of the typical summertime grilling session. However, anyone who has ever tasted poorly grilled chicken knows the importance of using proper grilling techniques in in preparing this food. Chicken legs that have been burnt on the outside yet are raw on the inside are both revolting in flavor and unsafe to eat. But by using proper seasoning methods and barbequing techniques, you can grill delectably succulent chicken drumsticks that the whole family will enjoy.
Chicken legs are actually one of the best meats for grilling. Their tapered shape makes them easy to handle with a pair of tongs and allows them to sit easily amongst the bars of the grill. Also, chicken drumsticks are relatively high in fat, keeping them moist over longer periods of cooking time. Chicken legs tend to be inexpensive to purchase, and can be easily prepared when you adhere to the following guidelines.
STEP ONE: PREP YOUR CHICKEN LEGS
Even if your grilling techniques are absolutely impeccable, your chicken drumsticks will still come out bland and boring if they are not properly seasoned before cooking. There are innumerable different ways to add some zest to your chicken legs, and when deciding what seasonings to use, feel free to give your creativity full rein. Many professional chefs see raw chicken as a blank canvas with which they can be as innovative as they like.
If you have the time to do it, marinating your chicken legs is an excellent way to allow them to soak up an enormous amount of flavor. Asian, Greek, or Latin marinades can usually be prepared with just a few ingredients. However, in order for the chicken to absorb these flavors to their fullest extent, the chicken legs have to be marinated for several hours, preferably overnight. This allows the juices from the marinade to be absorbed into the raw chicken’s skin and meat, maintaining this moisture and flavor when the chicken is cooked. Additionally, the sugars and oils from the marinade will caramelize and form the a perfect, crispy exterior on the chicken’s skin.
When time does not permit a lengthy marination period, a dry rub on your chicken can add a considerable amount of flavor instead. You can experiment with different ratios of salt, pepper, spices, and herbs to find the perfect rub for your family’s tastes. It is important to remember, though, to reach under the chicken’s skin and spread the rub on the actual meat as well as on the outside of the chicken. If you only season the chicken’s exterior, you will be left with deliciously flavorful skin but bland, unappealing meat inside.
STEP TWO: PREP YOUR GRILL
Never place your chicken on an unheated or dirty grill. This could cause your chicken to stick to the grill as it cooks, yielding messy, oftentimes charred results. To clean the grill, simply turn it on and scrape away leftover grime as it heats up. Next, heat the grill in such a way that one side reaches a very high heat, while the temperature on the other side is more moderate. The secret to cooking the perfect batch of chicken drumsticks lies in how you heat your grill, as we will see in the next step.
STEP THREE: COOK YOUR CHICKEN LEGS
Chicken needs to be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit in order to be safe for consumption. Many people try to achieve this internal temperature by cooking the legs over a medium heat for an extended period of time. However, although chicken legs can withstand longer cooking times than other parts of the bird, cooking them too long will still result in a dry, tasteless piece of meat. The trick is to sear them on the extra-hot half of the grill until the skin is golden brown, and then finish their cooking over medium heat. This will yield the moistest chicken that your family has ever tasted.