Fourth of July Food: Barbecue Birds to Make the Weekend Sizzle

By Suzanne Corbett, Travel / Food Editor

No offense Fredbird, but I love barbecued bird. Not any old bird will do. I love chicken. I know, it’s the July 4th weekend and most are clamoring for burgers, brats or pork steaks, I’m craving yard bird (chicken) grilled or smoked.  And why not? Grilled or smoked chicken hits it out of the park because its affordable, versatile and relatively fast to cook. Plus, unlike a lot of other grill meats, chicken is low-fat.

Chicken, whether whole birds, boneless breast filets or ground for burgers, is becoming an American grill favorite. Making a nice addition to your grilling repertoire. All you need to do is follow a few tips by the National Chicken Council recommends to help guarantee you’ll barbecue/grilled chicken will receive VIP (very impressive poultry) status on your menu.

The following tips will help ensure your chicken will be not only the VIP but the MVP – most valued poultry – on the menu.

1. Start with a clean grilling rack. Use a coarse brush to scrape away debris;

2. Grates can be lightly oiled or sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray to prevent chicken from sticking;

3. Grill any chicken parts over steady, medium heat

4. Bone-in chicken meat takes longer to cook, and should be placed on the grill first. Place on hottest part of the grill and continually turn pieces. Cook thinner pieces for a shorter period of time, and over higher heat

5. Chicken breasts can be grilled with or without the skin on, but will be juicier if cooked with skin on. Remove skin after cooking to lower total calorie and fat content.

6. Cook white-meat poultry until juices run clear and the meat reaches an internal temperature of 170 to 175 degrees and dark meat to 180 – 185 degrees on a meat thermometer. Cook ground chicken burgers to 165 – 170 degrees.

7. Grill whole birds and larger parts using the indirect method in a covered grill.  Place a drip pan beneath the bird; the pan should be slightly larger than the bird.

8. Fill the pan halfway with water, and surround it with a double layer of coals to provide longer, slower, oven-like cooking.  Add extra coals to the outer edge of the fire as needed to extend grilling.

The following recipes are courtesy of the National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. Each offer a different take.

Chicken Council Chinese Chicken Burgers with Rainbow Sesame Slaw

Chinese Chicken Burgers with Rainbow Sesame Slaw

2 pounds ground chicken

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoons sesame oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced lemongrass

1/3 cup sliced scallions

6 hamburger buns with sesame seeds

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

6 tablespoons hoisin sauce

sliced scallions

Sriracha Lime Mayo

Rainbow Sesame Slaw

In large bowl, mix together ground chicken, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, lemongrass and scallions. Divide mixture into 6 patties and set aside. Using a grill over a medium heat or a grill pan over medium heat. Spread softened butter on hamburger buns and place on grill until light brown. Spray grill with cooking oil or wipe grill pan with paper towel and brush with vegetable oil. Place chicken patties on grill and cook over medium high heat, turning once, until internal temperature reaches 165° F, about 7 minutes per side. During last few minutes of cooking, baste each burger with 1 tablespoon of the hoisin sauce. To assemble, place 1 tablespoon Sriracha Lime Mayo on each bottom and top bun. Place chicken on bun bottoms and top each with 1/3 cup Rainbow Sesame Slaw. Serve with any remaining slaw and mayo on the side. Garnish with scallions. Makes 6 servings.

Sriracha Lime Mayo:

3/4 cup mayonnaise

zest and juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons Sriracha Chile Sauce

In small bowl, mix together all the above ingredients. Cover and chill aside.

Rainbow Sesame Slaw:

2/3 cup julienne peppers (red, orange, yellow or any combination) 2/3 cup julienned snow peas, strings removed

2/3-cup julienne jacamar

1-1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1-tablespoon sugar

1-tablespoon soy sauce;

1 teaspoon Smirch Chile Sauce

1-teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds.

In medium size bowl mix all ingredients together and chill.

Chicken Council Butterflied Chicken with Herbs and Sticky Lemon

Butterflied Chicken with Herbs and Sticky Lemon

1 whole chicken, back bone and breast bone removed and flattened

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

5 sprigs rosemary

10 long sprigs thyme

10 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers

2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. On cookie sheet, place rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs and garlic. Arrange flattened chicken on top and sprinkle with olive oil. Place chicken in 400° F oven for 20 minutes. Pour sherry vinegar over chicken and cook additional 15 minutes. Place lemon slices over chicken. In small bowl, mix together honey and chipotle sauce; brush over lemon slices. Bake chicken additional 10-15 minutes, brushing with honey sauce (use foil to cover chicken if it starts to burn). Test for doneness by inserting an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. It should register 180° F. Remove chicken to platter and sprinkle with almonds and parsley. Makes 4 servings.