Broiled chicken is chicken that has been prepared indoors under dry heat. This method of cooking has a reputation for being healthier than other methods because it requires little, if any, fat to cook the chicken while also allowing the little fat in the chicken to drain off into a broiler pan. Broiling also is a fast way to cook chicken, especially breasts, because the source of heat in a broiler is very close to the meat. One of the criticisms of broiled chicken is that, if done incorrectly, it can produce meat that has very little flavor and is very dry or poorly textured. While individual chicken parts work best under a broiler, a whole chicken can still be cooked in this way if it is flattened first.
When creating a broiled chicken, the bird is exposed to high heat that is very close to the surface. This can cause the chicken to dry out quickly, especially because there is no sauce, fat or other liquid surrounding the meat to maintain the moisture. Likewise, the meat of the chicken itself does not contain a high amount of fat, so the heat can quickly evaporate the moisture it contains. One solution is to keep the skin of the chicken over the meat while it is broiling. The skin contains most of the fat, so it will baste the chicken as it is cooking while also protecting the meat from burning.
Another popular solution for keeping broiled chicken moist is to marinade the meat first. A marinade will add moisture to the outermost parts of the meat, allowing it to withstand more heat during the process. Brining the chicken in a salt, water and sometimes sugar solution also can help to leave the chicken moist after broiling it, although it will increase the amount of salt in the final dish. Finally, some recipes suggest quickly cooking the chicken in boiling water before broiling, or putting it briefly in a microwave first, so the time spent under a broiler is reduced.
Many broiled chicken recipes call for basting the meat during the short time it is cooking. Some of these marinades are simple barbecue sauce, honey, flavored oils or composite butters. These can help to add flavor to the chicken and restore some liquid to the interior. In addition to basting, if the skin is left on, then spices, oil or butter can be placed under the skin to help the meat stay tender.
Although the average indoor broiler is not very spacious, it is possible to broil an entire chicken. The process involves removing the spine of the chicken, cracking the breast bone, and then flattening the entire bird. The wings and legs can be trussed closer to the body to try to even the cooking time. Despite the best efforts, however, certain parts of the chicken will cook quicker than others and areas such as the breast and wing tips could benefit from being covered in aluminum foil if they are cooking too quickly.