Brined, Barbequed Chicken
Submitted by Cthuluburger
I couldn't explain brining as well as this article does so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel. If you have questions about the brining process, what it does exactly, and why you should brine lean meats, pork, poultry and seafood then I encourage you to read it.
Quick excerpt for the non link clickers:
Although brining is a simple technique, it's a marvelous example of science at work in the kitchen. The concentration of water and salt is greater in the brine than it is in the meat; the meat absorbs the brine until the concentration of water and salt is equal in the brine and in the meat. Once inside the meat, the salt causes the proteins to unwind, become tangled, and trap moisture. This creates a barrier to prevent moisture loss during cooking; the result is a succulent, juicy piece of meat. Other flavorings, such as brown sugar, herbs, and spices, are also carried into the cells, so the brined meat is seasoned not just on the outside, but throughout the interior as well.
Ok so basically, a brine is a marinade with lots of salt and water the intent of which is not so much to alter the flavor of your food but to make it much more juicy when it's cooked.
First you need to find a suitable container for your brine. Remember it has to be large enough to allow your meat to be completely submerged in fluid. Avoid aluminum as that can alter the flavor of the meat. I took out the ceramic interior part out of a crock-pot to hold my chicken.
I made the brine last night after a few drinks. I was a blind chaotic god of brinery that wasn't much interested in following those "recipe" things so the list of ingredients and the approximate amounts may be slightly off.
In my container I combined:
- 1 bunch of warm water.
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 a chopped up onion
- 1 big squirt from one of those plastic lime things
- 1/2 a can of frozen orange juice concentrate
- Probably a quarter of a cup of juice from that old ass jar of jalapenos in the back of the fridge
Stir that stuff up until your salt and sugar have dissolved.
Next prep the chicken
Wash your chicken and pat it dry and then we're going to come up with some junk to stuff inside your chicken.
In a bowl I combined:
- Black pepper corns
- Secret spices
I just eyeballed the amounts and you can too. It's just the brine, relax it's going to be ok. The important part is water and salt, the rest is just whatever floats your boat
Ok now take the spices and herbs that were combined and rub the inside of the chicken down with them. After it's rubbed down I put 1/2 of a chopped up onion and 2 quartered garlic cloves into the cavity.
Now you want to submerge your chicken in your container full of brine. I found that I didn't have quite enough solution to submerge my bird so I added in some other fluids.. I put in some more water, a beer, and other stuff. At this time prety much whatever seemed like a good idea at that moment ended up in the pot.
I weighed the bird down with a plate because the bird wanted to float. With the plate on top I covered the pot with some foil and put it in the fridge. You'll need lots of room so plan ahead.
I really don't want to explain everything that happened in the kitchen last night and I'm pretty glad I didn't have the camera around but I can tell you some things to not do when brining a large bird.
Tip of the day: If you think it's a good idea to wash out a trash bag, then put the trash bag into a big ass lobster pot, and then pour a couple of gallons of brine into your pot/bag you're starting down a path that will only lead to sorrow. There will be a mess. You will have to wash the floor and probably the counters as well. Even if you avoid a huge mess, will that really fit in your fridge? No, no it won't.
Go to sleep. Let that soak for as long as you can have it take up choice refrigerator real estate. I could only let it soak overnight so it was about 12 hours but 24 hours would be ideal. Another tip on brining, be careful if you buy a preseasoned bird, the process will make the meat salty so if it's already seasoned the results may be too salty for your taste.
After you've let your bird soak it's time to take it out and drain the pot.
You may want to roast yours but I'm butterflying mine so I can lay it flat in the smoker. Butterflying is a very simple process; I didn't have the camera around when I did this part so this reenactment will have to suffice.
Take the chicken and place it on your cutting surface so that it's spine is facing up. Grasp it firmly and using cooking shears cut alongside both sides of the spine through the ribs, from cavity up to the neck. About half way through I have to turn it around and work from the opposite direction to get it done.
Once you have separated the spine from the rest of the bird just put a hand on each side and spread it open. Flip the bird over and press down to flatten it. If you hear something crack it's probably the breastbone and that's fine. Now you have a butterflied bird that will lay nice and flat.
I won't get into smoker startup procedures because there's already lots of good information about that and depending on what you have my method may not work best for you. Also, I really wasn't in the mood to worry about things like "temperature" today. I'm too busy for that level of detail .
I like spraying things so after putting the chicken on the smoker at 12:00 I made a baste.
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1 squirt of lime juice
- 2 or 3 shakes of sugar
- Few shakes of garlic powder
- 1 glug of extra virgin olive oil
- Couple of drops of soy sauce
- Some more of that evil jalapeno juice
Let's take a look, I think I'm going to baste the chic..
Ok, well, looks like it's all done to me since the "I'm done" thing is sticking up. I'm going to spray it with my baste anyways. Let's get it off the grill and hope we don't all get salmonella.
Ok, when I tried to move it, the legs fell off. This is another good sign for the astute cook to pick up on that your food is done cooking.
Let's not forget the sausages that were hiding under the chicken.
I didn't do anything with them, just sweet Italian sausages. They weren't quite done in the middle somehow so I wrapped them in aluminum foil with a little apple juice in the foil and stuck them in the oven for a little while on 350. The outsides were looking leathery and I wanted them to braise to completion so they wouldn't get too dry.
This just goes to show that even if you do a half assed job of things, wing it as you go, and don't get emotionally involved you can still make delicious food that brings all the boys to the yard.
Image linked for gigantic, pornographic, hot, dripping-wet chicken action.