Grill Roasted Butterflied Chicken with Garlic Wet Brine
This has been such a weird winter. 6 inches of snow on Tuesday, then 60°F on Saturday…in February? 1 To take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, I picked up a 5 pound roasting chicken this afternoon.
Now, I prefer to dry brine chicken, but that takes a while. I need it for dinner to cook tonight, so I’m going with a quick wet brine and some crushed garlic – it’s always good to add garlic.
That’s it for seasoning. I like a simple bird, with salt, pepper, garlic, and the key ingredient for grilled chicken: smoke. I’m using what Chef Michael Ollier calls “opportunity wood.” A cluster of black cherry trees in my back yard were not doing well, and needed to come down. Thanks to the tree service, I now have enough cherry firewood to last me for years – and it makes for great smoking.
One last note – this 5 pound roasting chicken is bigger than the 4 pound broiler/fryer birds I usually get. I couldn’t do my usual indirect heat setup of two piles of charcoal on the sides, because the bird was so wide. I went with all the coals on one side of the grill, and the chicken on the other. This also lets me cook the legs more than the breast meat, by putting the legs closer to the fire. Dark meat can always use a little extra heat.
Recipe: Grilled Butterflied Chicken with Garlic Wet Brine
2 fist sized chunks of cherry smoking wood (Or 2 cups of wood chips.)
2 quarts water
1/4 cup table salt or 1/2 cup kosher salt (3 ounces)
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Brine the chicken: Butterfly the chicken: remove the backbone with poultry shears by cutting up one side of the backbone, then down the other side of the backbone. Flip the chicken skin side up, and flatten the breastbone by pressing down hard with the back of your hand. Fold the wing tips back under the wing to lock them in place. Stir the water, salt, black pepper and garlic until the salt dissolves, then submerge the chicken in the brine. Brine the chicken in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours.
Set the grill for indirect high heat: Set up the grill to cook on indirect high heat (450°F or higher internal temperature). For my Weber kettle, I light a full chimney of charcoal, wait for it to be covered by gray ash, then pour it in a tight pile on one side of the grill. Then I put on the grill grate and brush it clean.
Grill the chicken using indirect high heat: Add the smoking wood to the coals, then put the chicken on the grill away from the heat, skin side up, and with the legs facing the coals - we’re cooking with indirect heat. Close the lid and grill the chicken with the lid closed as much as possible. The chicken is done when it reaches 160°F in the thickest part of the breast, about 1 hour of total cooking time.
Crisp the skin over direct heat (optional): At this point, you should have nice, crispy skin. If you don’t, move the chicken directly over the fire and sear, turning often, until the skin is crisped up, about 4 minutes. Watch out - dripping chicken fat causes flare-ups, and you don’t want to burn the chicken at the last minute.
Serve: Let the chicken rest for ten minutes, then cut into pieces and serve.
Cuisine: American |Recipe Type: Grilling
For butterflying instructions, see my How to Butterfly A Chicken video. This is a large chicken; a smaller 4 pound bird will take about 45 minutes. Smoking wood: I use cherry, but use what you have on hand: hickory, oak, or apple are also good.
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After writing that, I checked the weather…and we’re getting snow on Thursday. Sheesh.↩
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