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#123BBQ with Chef Michael Symon: All About Chicken

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Chef Michael Symon is not just a master of the barbecue, it's pretty much in his blood. Growing up in a Greek and Sicilian family, "several times a year, there would be an animal going on a spit at my house, or my cousin's or uncle's," he says. Needless to say, Serious Eats is excited to team up with Michael and Bank of America as he dishes out his tips for creating the ultimate summertime cookout spread.

According to Michael, there's a fundamental difference between barbecue and grilling. Barbecue is a "low and slow, beautiful method of cooking," while "grilling is every bit as delicious, but with higher heat" that lets you get the job done quickly. And what better way to demonstrate this difference than with chicken, which can be cooked either way?

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[Photo: Josh Bousel]

Certain parts of the chicken, like the breasts, are destined for grilling. All they need is a few minutes per side over medium-high direct heat for a quick and easy classic. But Michael is a self-professed "thigh guy" who loves the parts because they're "they're great to smoke or just to grill." Grill them briefly and you've got something tasty. But give them some time on a smoker laid out with applewood, and you've got flavor-packed, competition style pieces that are sure to make your neighbors jealous.

Regardless of what you do with your bird, "make sure it's bone in and skin on," as Michael explains. "That's going to save you a lot with the juice. Even if you're one of those people that, for whatever reason, doesn't want to eat the skin, you can take it off after it's done cooking." Keep this in mind and you're sure to have tender and moist chicken that is far from the bone dry, lighter fluid scented meat that is the hallmark of the barbecue amateur.

If you've got any pictures of your own chicken hanging out on the grill, we want to see them! Make sure to add #123BBQ to get in on the fun. We'll be celebrating the grilling season all summer long, so come join the party!

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