May and June are traditionally characterized by cool, cloudy, overcast days that may or may not clear up by the afternoon. This year was the worst in about 75 years, with “June Gloom” lasting until just a couple of weeks ago.
But things are fantastic out here now! It’s warm and sunny every day, I just took my first surfing lesson (and am now completely hooked), and I have more motivation than ever to grill as many of my meals as possible. While most of y’all are starting to wind down from the summertime, I’m just getting started! “Summer” is supposed to last through October here, so I’m feeling pretty excited about the months to come.
My “go to” meal this summer so far has been grilled chicken and grilled veggies. Here’s why:
- By using whole chicken and fresh veggies, most of I eat is minimally processed. Lost within the hubbub over “calories,” “fats,” and “carbs,” the most damning nutritional evidence has always (and will always) come down on processed foods. Whether it’s the easily digested carbohydrates, chemical additives, or something else entirely, it is clear as day that the most important part of a healthy diet is ditching the refined stuff, which has been shown to increase both leptin resistance and insulin resistance. This causes both your body to store energy as fat rather than muscle, and for you to not feel full, thus leading to overeating.
- Buying in bulk is the cheapest way to go. We live in a culture that is afraid of fat, that thinks that “cooking” means “pressing ‘start’ on the microwave,” and is more than a little bit uneasy about the whole “eating animals” thing. In other words, we are a nation that thinks boneless, skinless, chicken breasts are the best choice when it comes to meat. I’m calling B.S. Fat is good for you, animals are REALLY good for you (plus tasty, to boot), and learning to cook is the highest-leverage tool you have in your quest to lose fat and gain muscle. Hence, boneless, skinless chicken breasts cost a premium while whole chickens are a bargain. It’s a win-win proposition for both my health and my pocketbook.
- Cooking in bulk is the quickest way to go. It doesn’t take much more time to cook eight meals than it does one. I like to do most of my cooking for the week on Sundays, grilling up two whole chickens and as many veggies as will fit on the grate. As such, every night my fridge and freezer are filled with my own version of “microwave dinners,” fresh, healthy food that I can quickly heat up at any time.
So, without further ado, I present you with the recipes for grilling chicken that have been keeping me full, healthy, and happy.
- A whole chicken (or as many as you can fit on the grill)
- Salt and pepper
- Set the grill up for indirect heat. If you are using a charcoal grill – the caveman-approved method – Separate the coals into two piles on the opposite side of the grill once they are red-hot and covered with ash.
- Rinse the chicken inside and out. Pat dry. Cover the inside and outside with salt and pepper. Roll the lemon on a hard surface and puncture all over with a knive. Toss it in the chicken’s cavity.
- Throw the chicken on the grill and cover. Grab yourself a beer, cuz grilling without a brew is like going hunting without a rifle.
- Grill for an hour and check on the bird. Twist the leg and notice the tension. If it won’t move, it’s not done yet. If you feel a slight resistance before the joint releases, it’s ready! If it needs more cooking, you should add more coals at this point. Keep checking, using the “leg twist,” every 15 minutes.
- Remove from the grill and let sit 15 minutes before carving. Here’s a French dude to help you out:
As I’ve stressed before, the power of cooking comes not from knowing a bunch of fancy techniques so that when you are whipping up a fancy meal, cookbook out in front of you, you know what you are doing. Rather, it’s important to master the basic “blueprints” such as this that will ensure that you can put together a healthy meal with little wasted willpower, relying on a basic recipe you have memorized and improvising with whatever other ingredients you have on hand. Here’s a few recipes for grilling chicken you should also check out, simply variations of the one above:
- Use a dry rub or other barbecue sauce on the chicken before grilling.
- Put some chopped onion and garlic cloves inside the cavity before cooking.
- Put other herbs (such as rosemary) inside the cavity before hitting the grill.
- Short on time? Use the spatchcocking method. Split the bird along its spine so it lays flat on the grill.
Of course, don’t miss my beer can chicken recipe either. It’s sure to impress. I’m learning the basics of barbecueing and will be filling you guys in on how to best do it in the coming weeks! Let me know if you have any other tips for making grilled chicken tastier, quicker, or easier.