Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Best Chicken Ever

Update: I have made this chicken again, this time skipping the grilling part and just roasting it in the oven. Fabulous. And not much more effort, especially if you have to defrost your chicken anyway. Throw you chicken in the brine overnight, and you will have the most delicious, moist chicken the next day. Just make the brine, cool it down, then add your bird, whole. Next morning, take it out, put in fridge covered, then roast as usual.

The following update is highly recommended!
Another update: After a conversation with my fellow foodie friend Robin, I decided to try brining chicken breasts. In my humble opinion, I think this is the best use of the brining procedure. I do it all the same except for the following: I cut 1/4 cup of the salt, and I leave the breasts in there until I am ready to grill them. I get a huge pack of breasts from Sam's Club, and use the leftovers for salads and what not. Try it, and you will be hooked too!!

This chicken takes some pre-planning, and a little effort, but it is worth it. If you have never brined or grilled a chicken before you will be embarking on new territory. This was my first time for both, but it won't be my last. make sure you have room in your fridge for a big pot, and plenty of charcoal or propane in the tank before starting.

Also, if you want to skip the long grill "baking" part, just sear the bird on the grill, have your oven preheated, and cook as normal in the oven. I think I would bring the bird back outside for the finish basting turn though, to impart more of that flavor. (Me, I am thinking of asking for the rotisserie attachment for our grill for Mother's Day! Yes, this was THAT good.)

To brine: Get your big saucepan, big enough to fit a chicken in. Fill with water, turn on burner to boil water. Add 3/4 cup salt (I used kosher), 1/2 cup maple syrup, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 bay leaves, and 6 garlic cloves, peeled. Add all ingredients to water, boil, turn off and cool the water. After the steam mellows out a bit, put the pot in the fridge, the water has to be at your fridge's temperature to put your chicken in it. The ingredients here are just guidelines, do whatever you like, BUT always add some sort of sweet to the pot, otherwise your bird will be too salty.

Cut your chicken in half.

Once the water is cooled down, put your chicken halves in the water, being sure that all your chicken is under the water; otherwise you can get some unwanted bacteria in there. If your chicken floats up (mine didn't), you can put a plate on top, or a bag of ice, whatever you can figure out to immerse it.

Let soak overnight, or anywhere from 6 to 24 hours. (I would say keep the upper end to 12, but I think 24 would still be OK.)

Throw out brine, and cover bird well, and put it back in the fridge for a few hours before cooking. This will let the skin dry out a little bit. The meat will absorb some of the brine, this will give the skin a bit more crisp to it. You can skip this part, the skin will be moist.

To cook: I wanted to try grilling my chicken, I never did this before. So, heat up your grill on high, about 10 min. Brown each side of the bird, then turn off one burner, moving the chickens to the side that was turned off. Shut grill. Check every 25-30 min, turning the bird. (Mine took about 1 hour 45 minutes to cook.)

To season: While the chicken is cooking, mix olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and herbs (I used sea salt, oregano, and pepper). Baste bird during the last 10 minutes of cooking on each side.

Chicken is done when thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh meat registers 170 degrees. Take bird off grill, and let stand for 10 minutes, carve and enjoy.

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