With a chicken, you don't necessarily assume that you can prepare a lot of it on the grill. After all, poultry is less abundant in meat than, say, beef or pork. But don't underestimate the flapper, because even its smallest cuts have it all!
Overview of the most important chicken cuts
A whole chicken is not a cut by itself, but for completion it should be mentioned. You can buy it in all variants: fresh, frozen, with or without innards and in varying sizes and weight. If you have a whole chicken in front of you, you have two options at hand. Disassemble it into the several smaller cuts on your own or cook it whole. The latter can be done on the grill by searing it indirect or using a rotisserie. To prevent a bland chicken, you should consider giving it a rub, glaze or marinade.
Filet with tenderloin
If there would be a seal of approval for “most versatile meat”, the chicken breast would win this easy. The white meat from the breast area of the chicken is a jack of all trades. Due to its low percentage of fat, it is very tender and mild in taste, making it the perfect canvas for all spices. To bring it on the table you are free to choose a cooking method. Grilled, seared, as a whole, in smaller cuts, baked, on skewers or even low-and-slow cooked to pulled chicken: everything is possible.
A cut literally very close to the chicken breast is the tenderloin. These are the smaller breast muscles of the chicken, attached to the chicken breasts and only used to raise the wings. They are smaller in size and usually separated from the chicken breasts. They are the most tender parts of the chicken and can be grilled on skewers or as chicken fingers.
You can use the leg of a chicken without any problems as a whole and each subpart has its own benefits which are explained further down. In comparison to the other leaner meat of the chicken a leg is a more trained muscle. It is constantly strained which results in a darker color and intense flavor of the meat. In addition, chicken legs are also a little bit more fatty than other parts of the poultry. To cook a chicken leg as a whole you can grill or sear it with or without skin and due to the higher fat percentages, it is less inclined to become dry.
The upper part of the chicken leg is the thigh and the bigger part of the leg. It includes the thigh bone and the attached meat. Just like the whole leg, the thigh sports trained meat with darker color, stronger flavor and a higher percentage of fat. To cook it you can leave the bone in or remove it and could also remove the skin if you like. The cooking method can be either seared or braised over time.
The lower part of the leg is the calf and is the meat from its knee down to its ankle. This cut is also called drumstick due to its form. The amount of meat is not vast on this part cut and to compensate that you should incorporate the surface with spices. Drumsticks are always cooked bone in and are perfect for searing, grilling, roasting or braising. Once a drumstick is ready you can easily snack it right from the bone, enjoying the tender meat.
One of the chicken’s most popular cuts are chicken wings and usually needs no introduction. They are a staple in finger food. The little wings of the chicken are always sold with three parts and the tip of the wing left. A chicken wing doesn’t really have much meat on it, but the good perfused, dark meat compensates this with an intense flavor. To cook chicken wings, you can really cut loose: grill it, smoke it, braise it or even fry it. As long as you tend to a longer cooking time due to the consistency of the meat, you can’t do anything wrong.