Quick Grilled Chicken

On nights like last night, things are busy to say the least.  One of our daughters has gymnastics practice at one end of town.  The other one gets picked up by Grandma from her after-school band club, and then picked up by me at Grandma’s house on my way home from work.  I try to have dinner done before the other two get home so that we’re not all starving.  We’ve got a dear friend who just underwent a full mastectomy, and we’re trying to plan/coordinate some easy-to-prepare pre-made meals for her and her family to help her out while she recovers.  Oh, and did I mention it was also my birthday?

I’d love to say that I’ve planned ahead perfectly for the week.  I’d love to say that I have a complete meal plan written down.  I’d love to say I have all of the needed ingredients for each meal organized in the fridge, with the meat thawing in advance (or even marinading), and ready to turn into some new masterpiece to showcase here on the blog.

I’d love to say those things, but I can’t.  Because the truth is I’m just as busy and just as rushed and just as overwhelmed as most of you out there.  The truth is I have a lot of nights where I am at a loss for what to make for dinner right up until I start rifling through the freezer and settle on something that I know I can thaw, cook, and serve as quickly as possible (before being mauled by a pack of ravenous family members), while still making it delicious and healthy.

It doesn’t hurt having a good grill that will produce wood smoke.  With just a handful of simple spices and a blend of hickory, cherry, and apple wood at 400 degrees, you can turn just about anything into a delicious meal in no time, and certainly without a lot of prep.  Just like the chicken I made last night.

Gather Up:

  • ~2 pounds of chicken pieces.  Here it was two breast halves and three thighs, all with bones and breasts intact.
  • 1~2 tbsp no-salt seasoning blend (see Sources page)
  • 1~2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1~2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Get the grill started and warming up to 400 degrees (Medium high to High) for indirect cooking.  I highly recommend having some way to produce wood smoke with your grill, and to have it ready to smoke while you are cooking.  I have a pellet grill, which makes this extremely easy to accomplish (make sure it’s full of pellets and turn it on), but I know it’s easy to do with a small smoker box on a gas grill, or by putting some wood chips in with your briquettes on a charcoal grill as well.

Remove the skin and any large pieces of fat from the chicken.  You can leave it on, but any seasoning you put on the skin will only season it and not the meat…so I remove it.  Put the olive oil in a small prep bowl and use a basting brush to brush oil all over the chicken.  Sprinkle the Old Bay lightly over the side of the chicken that had the skin on it, followed by the herb/seasoning blend (you can cover all sides, but if you’ve got bone-in breasts like these, you’re just seasoning the bone on the other side).  Set aside until the grill reaches temperature.  Check the kids’ homework, or get a salad going, or work on prepping some squash to go on the grill with the chicken.

Place the chicken on the grill, with the seasoned side facing up.  Cook on indirect until just cooked all the way through but not all dried up and chewy (you can use an instant-read thermometer for this and shoot for about 165~170 degrees, or just eye ball it and cut into a thigh along the bone when you think you are close to make sure it’s not still raw).  For my pellet grill, which cooks like a convection oven, it was 30 minutes on the nose.  When cooking indirect like this, you also don’t really need to check it and flip it every few minutes (think: If you’re lookin’, you ain’t cookin’!)…just take a peak at about 20 minutes, maybe grab a temp reading, and gauge when you should come check again.

There you have it.  Between this chicken and the banana squash I grilled with it (and a salad), I had dinner from freezer to table in under an hour, and it was pretty tasty too.  Enjoy!

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5 responses to “Quick Grilled Chicken

  1. I love this blog, these recipes are great. You guys bring the faith back to quick healthy cooking.

    Thank you!

  2. So for those of us who don’t have a pellet grill, can you use your oven or small propane bbq?

  3. I certainly wouldn’t recommend wood smoking in your oven. 🙂 I’m sure that simply baking in the oven will still give good results – you’ll just be missing that extra dimension the wood smoke flavor adds.

    For doing this on a propane grill, there are a lot of options out there. Probably the easiest is to make a small foil “smoker pan” as described here on eHow.com. Of course the smaller the grill, the more difficult this can be to do simply because of how much room you have for cooking versus smoking, but it can be done. Another method I’ve seen used on the smaller grills is to actually fully enclose the soaked wood chips in a foil “envelope,” poke a few holes in the top with a fork, and place it directly on top of the burner plate at one end of the grill. One final thought regarding small propane grills is that they produce a more “direct” heat (heat source close to the food and little air circulation) – so I’d probably drop the temperature down about 50 degrees to keep things from cooking too fast, and would also definitely turn the meat half-way through for even cooking.

    I should also add that you can get wood chips (or specialty pellets) for smoking from a lot of sources. Specialty stove and grill shops always have a variety on hand, as do most “Farm and Ranch” -type stores and most outdoor sporting goods stores. And if know of any apple orchards nearby, you can always ask to save some of the larger pruning clippings (branches 1″ DIA or bigger) and use a small hatchet to chop them up into wood chips. Or head up into the woods in the PNW and take some cuttings of Alder (which grows like a weed!) and do the same.

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