While we live in a rural area, we are only about sixty miles form the Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) metroplex which has a multitude of supermarkets including many ethnic markets. What this means for us is that our local Walmart actually price matches all the sale ads from the DFW area. Almost every week someone has chicken thighs and or drumsticks on sale. As I am writing this article 'Save-A-Lot' supermarkets has chicken drumsticks and thighs on sale for $0.69 per lb, while the Mexican market 'Rio Grande' has drumsticks regular or marinaded for $0.39 per lb. Chicken breasts on the other hand were $1.69 per lb on sale. The drumsticks I am cooking for this article we comp'd at our local Walmart for $0.49 per lb a few weeks ago. While not as nutritious as chicken breasts, legs and thighs can help you to put good quality food on your table for a quarter of the cost ($1.69 / $0.39 = 4.33). And I do not have to tell you if you are cooking on a budget or fixed income, every little bit of savings you can find helps to stretch your food dollars.
Cooking chicken on the grill is pretty easy, but my brother-in-law “bless his heart” just cannot seem to get the hang of it. His chicken either looks like it is cooked but ends being raw and bloody in the middle, or he cooks the bejesus out of it and it is so burned on the outside that it is not only unappealing to look at, it's not very tasty either. The sad thing is that he thinks he is a grill master, but everyone is just to polite to say anything. It is not all his fault, part of the problem is the equipment he uses. The recipe for this chicken is quite simple, season the chicken with salt and pepper and grill it for 36 minutes and then apply the sauce of my choice and cook for another 5 minutes. No rub, no marinade, simply put, this grilled chicken could not be easier.
The Grill Matters
Multi-burner gas grills are great for cooking foods, the old single burner type of gas grill (which is 20 years old) that my brother-in-law uses is terrible. It is simply to hard to regulate the heat effectively without either burning the food or having it be undercooked. The problem with single burner grills (as well as cooking directly over charcoal) is that you have to stand there and constantly monitor the cooking process and most often you have to grill with the lid open to be able to manage flareups and keep the food from burning. This not only causes you to lose heat, but it uses up more of your valuable gas and or charcoal costing you money. So why is this important? Well the key to cooking moist and delicious chicken on the grill is indirect heat, regardless of whether you are using a gas or charcoal grill.
Gas grills with multiple burners help you to maintain an even heating and cooking source, as well as allowing you to cook foods throughly while using less gas. Your gas grill does not have to be fancy. I cooked for years on a small two burner Char-Broil grill without a temperature gauge with amazing results. All you need is the ability to turn off the burner that is directly under the food during the cooking process. Have not fear, if all you have is a charcoal grill you can still cook fantastic chicken. While the process for cooking with indirect heat on a charcoal grill is slightly different, it is not difficult, and I will quickly cover how to do so later in this article.
Saving The Sauce For Last
Before we get into the actual instructions for grilling the drumsticks, there is one key thing that you must do to keep your chicken from burning, and that is saving the sauce for last. When it comes to grilled meats, the sauce that you apply will not absorb into the meat, rather the sauce is used as an additional flavor component to the poultry. Almost all sauces contain sugar which when heated will burn and increase the number of flareups during the cooking process.
Properly grilled chicken only needs to have the sauce applied during the last five minutes of cooking. Apply the sauce liberally to one side, then turn the chicken and apply the sauce to the other side and cook for 5 minutes. Adding multiple applications of sauce during the grilling process does nothing but waste sauce, increases the chance the chicken will burn and does not add any additional flavor to the chicken. It simply falls down into the bottom of the grill. If you want to add an additional layer of sauce, then when you remove the chicken from the grill and place it on your tray or plate add another light coat of sauce. Then allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving. This not only allows the additional layer of sauce to slightly thicken, but keeps you and your guests from burning your mouths when you bite into your hot and juicy grilled chicken.
Grilling The Drumsticks
A lot of people prefer the flavor of cooking meats on a charcoal grill, and I must admit I do like the flavor of charcoal, but to be honest it is down right inconvenient when you have a group of hungry guests or family members and you need to quickly throw something on the grill. The biggest disadvantage to using a charcoal grill is that it is more difficult to cook on consistently using indirect heat. It can be done, but you have less control of the temperature range of the grill so it requires a more experienced hand managing the grill.
If you want to cook your chicken over direct heat regardless of the type of grill you are using, you need to get yourself a cold beverage because you will need to stand outside and monitor the grill as there will be multiple flareups due to the fats released from the skin of the chicken during the cooking process. Now, depending on your house guests and your cold beverage of choice, standing outside by the grill cooking over direct heat just might be considered an advantage. Anyway, when cooking over direct heat, the outside of the chicken tends to cooks quickly and while the drumsticks may look cooked on the outside, the inside often remains raw and bloody. So keep in mind that if you are cooking your drumsticks over direct heat you may need to turn them every 5 to 7 minutes to keep them from burning. Cooked drumsticks are fantastic, burned and blackened drumsticks not so much; and no one I know likes to eat bloody chicken.
So the million dollar question is at what temperature do I grill my chicken? My basic answer is somewhere between 325 to 400 degrees. That may seem like quite a temperature range and it is, but to be honest when I used my old Char-Broil gas grill, it had no thermometer so I just cooked the chicken with one burner on high and the one under the chicken turned off. My new Char-Griller has a temperature gauge that reads a consistent 400 degrees (if this is accurate) when it comes up to heat and one burner is kept on low. The optimum temperature would be 350 degrees. For this recipe the gauge on my grill was always at 400 degrees. If cooking at a slightly lower temperature 325 to 350 you may need to increase the overall cook time by about 10 minutes.
Using A Gas Grill – When using a gas grill, heat with both burners on high for 5 minutes, then turn one burner off and place the meat on the side of the grill in which the burner is off and cook for 12 minutes. Then turn on both burners and turn the meat and place it on the other side of the grill and turn the burner under the meat off and cook for another 12 minutes. Repeat this process for three times or a total of 36 minutes. After 36 minutes, baste the chicken with the your sauce of your choice and then turn and move the chicken to the opposite side of the grill and baste the other side (at this point you should have sauce on both sides). Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Using A Charcoal Grill – If you are using a charcoal grill heat the coals until they turn ash white. To cook the chicken indirectly on a charcoal grill you will need to move the coals either to the middle of the grill and cook the chicken on the outside of the grate away from the coals, or push the coals all to one side and cook on the side away from the coals. Follow the same cooking process as if you are using a gas grill.
Buying meat and poultry when it is on sale and freezing them for later use can be a valuable way to stretch your families food budget. At our house, we rarely any purchase meat or poultry unless it is on sale. Having purchased chicken when it was on sale is only half the equation, if you cannot grill it correctly, you are simply throwing your money away. The great thing is that grilling chicken thighs and drumsticks on the grill is easy and anyone can learn to grill juicy, delicious chicken, all it takes is a little practice. Just because I did not use a rub or a marinade for this recipe does not mean that you cannot. I have several recipes such as jerk chicken in which I use a marinade, and I have my own barbecue chicken rub that I also like to use. Rather my goal was to show you just how easy you could cook great grilled chicken with just a liberal amount of salt and pepper and a quick grilling sauce of your choice. Heck you do not even have to use a sauce. I grilled a couple of pieces for the wife without the sauce because she likes her grilled chicken with just salt and pepper. As always, if you have enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends and don't forget to send us on friend request on Facebook and Google+ so that you will not miss out on any of our new articles.
Similar Articles On Our Blog: