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I'm looking for some general advice on how to do this. I've attempted this twice and they turned out OK, but the outside layer looked a little black. Everyone really liked how it turned out but I'm wondering how I can improve. This is my process:

  1. Skin the drumsticks.
  2. Marinate them for 20-30 minutes (we bought a bag with the flavor in it that was for this purpose).
  3. Put the chicken on the barbecue on medium to low heat.
  4. Flip/rotate the chicken every 5 minutes or so for a total of 25 minutes.
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What kind of marinade? –  GalacticCowboy Oct 11 '11 at 20:23

3 Answers 3

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Alton Brown has an interesting technique in an episode of Good Eats in quite a bit of detail.

But, what I just do is to put it on direct heat (right over a medium-high flame) to sear the skin side and then move to indirect heat (burner right below turned off, other burner still on) and cover to complete. I will admit I've burned it a couple times, but every time I do, it's cause I've forgotten to check it, and left it without checking it.

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While I appreciate all the answers and they are all good, I'm picking this one because of the link to the Good Eats episode. We had a good laugh and learned some things. Thanks to all. –  Dustin Kendall Nov 7 '11 at 20:01

Your method sounds fine - black(ish) on the outside and succulent in the middle is ideal. I think a nice crispy skin is good (except for tandoori where it should be removed) and masssaging oil in helps. You can take the skin off if you like. You may be able to improve the flavour by using your own marinade - I use a mix of garlic/onion/soy sauce/sugar/oil and vinegar, making deep slashes in the surface, for 1 1/2 hrs or so. Barbecue them for a while - 30 mins or so, high at first then turning and reduce the heat until done - increase the heat at the end if you need. Alternatively cook in the oven at 200degC for up to an hour.

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Use indirect heat if you don't want the chicken breasts to caramelize so much. To get a nice texture for your skins, dry the chicken pieces thoroughly in the fridge, and target a higher heat (around 350f) for the temperature of your cooking environment. How hot you have to make your fuel source depends on how well your grill convects and holds heat.

Your marinade, plus the oils dripping away from the chicken pieces, will almost certainly cause flare-ups on your grill with direct grilling. By not cooking directly above the heat source, you will mitigate the charring of your chicken pieces that would result. Plus you don't have to flip the chicken pieces so frequently, just turning them once during cooking (should be 30-45 minutes, give or take) if necessary.

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