Avoid Barbecue Blunders: 5 Ways to Grill Chicken to Perfection Every Time

Nation's Flame-Grilled Chicken Leader El Pollo Loco Offers Expert Tips

June 08, 2010 // Franchising.com // What's worse? Biting into a piece of grilled chicken that's dry and overcooked with texture similar to a hockey puck or biting into a piece of chicken that should have been left on the grill a few minutes longer? To avoid these embarrassing and equally undesirable outcomes at your next barbeque, you may want to take a few pointers from the experts at El Pollo Loco, the nation's leader in citrus-marinated, flame-grilled chicken.

With more than 30 years of experience, here are tips from the culinary experts at El Pollo Loco on how to prepare and grill chicken to perfection:

  • Invest in a meat thermometer. This is an essential tool for preparing perfectly grilled chicken. To check the internal temperature of chicken, place the thermometer into the meat where the leg and thigh come together or into the thickest part of the breast meat, taking care not to touch bone.
  • Grill over a medium flame. Experiment with the flame setting on your grill. Cooking on a high or medium-high temperature will cause flare-ups and result in chicken that is charred on the outside, yet not fully cooked on the inside. If flare-ups occur, lift the chicken off the grill for a moment and move it to another area of the grill; reduce the flame if necessary.
  • Flip and rotate the chicken properly. Begin cooking the chicken by placing it on the grill skin side down. During grilling, turn the chicken three times. Turn it the first time when the skin appears dry and the chicken becomes rigid. Turn it a second time when the edges of the chicken become golden brown. Turn the chicken a third time when the internal temperature reaches approximately 165 degrees F. Finish by cooking the chicken, skin side down, with a higher flame to crisp the skin.
  • For barbecue chicken, apply BBQ sauce towards the end. Baste with your favorite BBQ sauce before and after the last turn. Grill marks that appear as you cook the basted chicken signal that sugars in the sauce are "caramelizing," producing the most intense flavors.
  • Monitor the chicken's temperature. The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. Remove chicken from the grill and cut it into individual pieces. Remember-- grilling is an art, not a science, so practice is critical to perfecting your technique. That's why the experts at El Pollo Loco are so good at preparing and serving juicy, flavorful, perfectly grilled chicken every time.

About El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco is the nation's leading restaurant concept specializing in flame-grilled chicken. Headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, El Pollo Loco currently operates 412 restaurants (241 franchised locations and 171 company-owned locations). The restaurants are located in California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, Illinois, Missouri, Georgia, Virginia, Connecticut, and New Jersey. The menu features El Pollo Loco's signature citrus-marinated, flame-grilled chicken in individual and family-size meals, along with a variety of contemporary, Mexican-inspired entrees, including its specialty Pollo Bowl® entrees, pollo salads, signature grilled burritos, tacos, quesadillas and Chicken Tortilla Soup. Earlier this year, El Pollo Loco added Carne Asada style flame-grilled Sirloin steak to its menu. El Pollo Loco is a privately held company owned by Trimaran Capital Partners and Company management.

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