The truth is, you don’t. Not if your goal is simply to cook the chicken. To paraphrase Joan Crawford in The Women: “If you throw a chicken breast onto a hot grill, what’s to keep it from cooking?”
But sometimes you want more than just chicken that’s cooked through: You want chicken with beautiful char marks on the exterior. These stripes are beautiful and evocative, yes, but they also carry the unmistakable flavor of fire, smoke, and the great outdoors. Nothing says summertime more than char marks from a grill.
Patting the chicken dry helps you achieve this. If you place the chicken on the grill while it is wet or moist, you’re inhibiting its ability to take on color. It’ll go gray and overcook before you get the marks you want. So do yourself a favor: Pat it dry.
It’s easy to do: Simply pat the chicken with paper towels to absorb any surface moisture. Pat, pat, dab, and done.