Sunday, March 18, 2007

I'm beginning to like this brining thing: Brined Chicken Halves

The maple bourbon pork chops were such a success I decided to try some brined chicken. This brine recipe also came from "Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures, and Glazes" by Jim Tarantino. I cooked them over indirect heat in the kettle like I always do.

The Ingredients

-2 quarts water
-1 cup chopped sweet onion
-6 cloves of garlic
-1/2 cup kosher salt
-1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
-1 tbsp thyme
-1 tbsp chopped rosemary
-1/4 cup fresh ground black pepper
-1 tsp paprika
-1 tsp cumin seeds
-3 bay leaves

For this recipe put the onion, garlic, and a cup of water into a blender or food processor and blend it until you've got a uniform texture (almost liquid). Add that to the rest of the water and ingredients and boil the entire mixture, then simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Cool to room temp then put it in the fridge to 40 degrees. Add the chicken and brine it for 8 to 10 hours.

For this I bought a whole chicken. I buy a lot of whole chickens because they are so cheap (This one was 4 bucks, I think). I guess a lot of folks don't know what to do with a whole chicken, so the grocery stores and butchers cut them up for you and charge a premium. Anyway, if you've never cut up a chicken, or anything else for that matter, just buy one and hack away at it. You're not gonna hurt's already dead!!

I halved the chicken for two reasons: 1) I prefer to cook chicken halves over indirect heat (or sometimes smoked) as opposed to beer-butt chicken...this is just personal preference, and 2) It was easier to brine them in a shallow container. If you'd rather do brined beer-butt chicken, go for it. I'm sure it'll be great. Halving the chicken is easy to do with just a good pair of kitchen shears. Just cut out the backbone, then one cut on the other side to separate the breasts.

Set up your grill for indirect grilling. I used hickory again. Be careful with the wood. The chicken skin really takes in the smoke. I make sure my wood chunks are burning nicely before I cover the Kettle. Right before you're ready to cook, dab the brining solution off of the chicken with paper towels. I then put a light coating of peanut oil on the skin and sprinkled with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

The Finished Product!! I've cooked a lot of chickens this way in the past, without the brine, and they have turned out fantastic. However, this chicken was probably the juiciest I've ever cooked and the skin was some of the best I've done, too...bite thru crunchy. I'm not sure if the skin was a direct result of the brine or not, because I've gotten crunchy skin in the past, but not consistently. Some investigation is in order......

I'm heading to beautiful Des Moines, Iowa bright and early in the morning on business for a few days. I'll be online some, but it'll be late in the week before I'm able to post anything. Have a great week!!

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