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Grilling bone-in chicken breasts is trickier than it seems. You want well-browned, crisp skin, and tender, moist meat. The challenge is the thick part of the breast: It’s quite slow to cook, while the tapered end cooks quickly. Adding a glaze to that equation makes the situation even a little thornier.
Here’s how we ensure success: First, we brine the chicken breasts to boost their moistness and to season them. Second, we set the grill up with a modified two-level fire; the hot side is used for browning and crisping, and the cooler side for the bulk of the cooking time. Finally, we apply the glaze to the chicken breasts only in the final minutes of grilling, so that the sugars won't burn.
Once you master this basic technique for grilling chicken breasts, you can apply any number of glazes or sauces, even barbecue sauce, if you like.
Grilled Bone-In Chicken Breasts with Chipotle-Orange Glaze
1/3 Cup table salt
* To help ensure that all the chicken breasts finish cooking at approximately the same time, try to buy pieces of similar size. Don’t use boneless, skinless chicken breasts—the bone and skin protects the easily overcooked breast meat from becoming dry and chalky, and the skin gives the glaze a surface to cling to. If you purchase kosher chicken, omit the brining step.
1. Grate 1 teaspoon zest from 1 orange.
Prepare and Brine Chicken
11. Trim ribs off 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts.
Prepare Charcoal Grill
18. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, or about 100 briquettes).
Prepare Gas Grill
25. Turn all burners to high and heat with lid down until very hot, about 15 minutes.
29. Cook chicken over hotter part of grill until lightly browned all both sides, 6 to 8 minutes for charcoal grill or 10 to 14 minutes for gas grill.
Let Chicken Rest and Serve
39. Tent chicken with foil.
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