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Charcoal Grill or Gas? What’s your choice?

On my deck I have two grills, one regular charcoal and the other fueled by propane. Charcoal is definitely the way to go for the full grilled food experience. Exactly what is the true grilled experience anyway?

We should start with the appearance; well grilled food will have some “char” on the outside. Black, slightly burned and crispy. Grilling brings to mind ribs with a slight char around the edges or a steak with the beautiful criss-cross diamond shaped grill marks. This look can start your mouth watering for the feast it’s about to enjoy.

Grilled flavors can be equally bold as the appearance. Common spices include, (but are not limited to), garlic, tomato, onion, lemon, orange, lime, all kinds of peppers including smoked paprika. Green spices such as oregano, cilantro, parsley (Italian flat), basil, tarragon. Seeds, whole and ground, such as cumin, cayenne, caraway, clove, fennel, mustard seed and even sesame.

To prepare your grill get a high heat going to burn off any residual food left over from the previous cooking. Then scrape the grill down and oil the surface. I’ll take some canola oil in a small ramekin and fold up a paper towel. Using a long tongs dip the edge of the folded up paper towel into the oil and rub that on the hot grill. This helps make your grill clean and fairly non-stick.

Grilling is a balance between high heat, to get that char on the outside, and medium to low heat to fully cook your food. With steak, especially rare, high heat is all you need. With steak, as soon as the outside is properly charred the inside should be correct too. At least on my grills it is.

But with chicken it needs to cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, and that takes time. I always place the chicken on the grill, bone side down, at high heat and then turn the heat down. After about 8 minutes I’ll turn it to skin side down, leaving it that way until I have a nicely crisped skin and then I turn it over again. Each time you turn it you can baste it with whatever you may have used for a marinade. Just be sure that after you remove the raw chicken from the marinade you place the liquid in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil for 15 seconds to kill off any bacteria. I only baste for the first half of the grilling process. All in all, chicken can take as little as 30 minutes and as long as an hour, depending on the heat in your grill and how large the pieces of chicken are.

Here’s a wonderful recipe for marinated grilled chicken. It calls for the chicken to be marinated for 8 to 24 hours. You can set the chicken in the marinade the night before or at the latest at breakfast in the morning.

South American Grilled Chicken

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 lime juiced

5 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika, feel free to use smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 chicken, cut up

Place all ingredients, (except chicken), into a blender and puree. Place liquid and chicken into a gallon size zip lock bag squeezing out as much of the air as possible. Put in the bottom drawer of your refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours, turning 3 or four times.

When ready to cook prepare your charcoal grill. Remove chicken from marinade and wipe off. Place marinade in sauce pan and bring to boil for at least 15 seconds.

Grill chicken starting with bone side down. When turning baste with marinade a couple of times only. Discard the remainder of the marinade and grill chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

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