Broiling and grilling are basic methods that are well suited to cooking chicken because they showcase its wonderful versatility. In essence, they are identical techniques. While grilling is usually done out of doors and broiling in the kitchen, both utilize dry, radiant heat that first quickly hits the surface of chicken and then slowly travels through the meat until it has penetrated to its center. The main difference is that the heat in broiling comes from the top while in grilling it comes from beneath.
In some ways, broiling is even simpler than grilling because it requires no special equipment other than a broiling pan with a rack, and because a broiler is built in to most home ovens. For broiling, however, as with grilling, a delicate balance of time and distance from the heat must be coordinated to produce a deliciously juicy end result: food that is nicely browned on the outside and the proper doneness within. The trick is to know how far away from the heating element to set the oven rack and broiler pan. As a rule, because they take longer to cook through, thicker, bone-in pieces need more distance, about 5 to 6 inches, than quick-cooking boneless cuts or kabobs, which should be cooked about 4 inches from the heat.
Most oven manufacturers provide a broiler pan. If you must purchase one, the rack should be slotted so that grease drips into the pan below. That way the food doesn’t sit in its fat and there is less chance of flareups. For easier cleanup, you may want to line the pan with aluminum foil, although those with a nonstick surface wipe clean with little effort. Don’t wrap the rack with foil, though, or the fat won’t drain.
Broiling poultry is often a good choice for low-fat preparations. But unlike grilling, broiling imparts no flavor of its own to food. Some seasoning, in the form of herbs, a marinade, or a baste, is required to transform what could be a bland dish into one that is full of flavor. Our recipes will introduce you to the wonderful variety that is possible when you cook chicken under the broiler or on the grill.
Arranging Chicken on Pan
If chicken pieces have been marinated, lift them from marinade and let drain slightly. Arrange the chicken pieces skin-side down on the unheated broiler rack, then set the pan on the oven rack.
Measuring Distance from Heat
Always measure from the heating element to the surface of the food. Most cuts should be broiled 4 to 6 inches from the heat; adjust the height of the oven rack, if necessary. Preheat the broiler according to manufacturer’s directions.
Broil the chicken completely on its underside before basting. Turn the pieces with long-handled tongs to protect your hands, then brush with the marinade or glaze as directed in the recipe.
Brush on a simple sauce or marinade, such as the honey-soy glaze, and the flavor of broiled chicken changes dramatically.