Smoke Roasted Chicken
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Posted on Wednesday Mar 2, 2011 at 10:42 PM  
I call this "smoke-roasted", as it's not really smoked (indirect heat, conducted by the smoke), but it's not totally grilled (high heat, directly over the coals). I keep the fire lower than normal grilling, but not as low as smoking temps. The meat is technically grilled over direct heat, but I keep the coals at their lowest position, as far from the cooking surface as possible.

I brine my chicken whenever I grill it. I like to infuse my brine with herby flavors, especially those that compliment chicken. I take a small amount of the total volume of water, bring it to a boil, and dissolve the salt (and sometimes sugar) into the water, and use the residual heat to steep herbs in the water. This makes a herby "tea" of sorts. The salt in the brine carries the herby flavors into the meat.

I have to admit, this is absolutely THE BEST chicken I've ever had! It's better than Roast Chicken. It's better than straight Grilled Chicken. It's better than Smoked Chicken (but not by much!) I usually cook off an entire 10 lbs bag of leg-and-thigh quarters (I increase my brine to yield 3 qt of brine), and IT ALL DISAPPEARS! Dang kids are turning into eating machines, let me tell you!

Smoke-Roasted Chicken
Yields: about 9 servings

This one sounds complex, but once you get the hang of it, it is actually easy. The brine helps by adding moisture and flavor to the chicken. The way it works is the salt seeks an equilibrium. There is more salt in the brine than in the chicken, so the salt moves into the chicken, and carries water, and any flavors present in the water, with it.

one 10# bag chicken leg-and-thigh quarters
3 qt water, in all
6 T salt
6 T brown sugar
Pepper, to taste
2 T minced garlic, or to taste
1 T thyme, or to taste
1 T sage, or to taste
1 T rosemary, or to taste

Pour 2 c of the water into a small saucepan and place over high heat. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, sage, rosemary, and sugar (if desired) to the water. Bring the brine up to a boil and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar, then let it sit for awhile to infuse the flavors of the herbs into the water. Remove from the heat, and add cold water, or better yet, ice cubes, to equal 3 qt of liquid. You want to chill the brine down so you don’t poach the chicken as it brines. You might even want to prepare the brine a day ahead, and store it in the refrigerator until a few hours before you cook the chicken. Once the brine is cold, place the brine in a non-reactive container (either stainless steel, glass, or plastic; the saltwater is highly corrosive) and place the chicken into the brine. Allow to soak for 3 hours or so.
Preheat a gas grill or start a charcoal grill. I prefer to keep the grill covered and at about 300°F on a thermometer mounted onto the lid of the grill. If you don’t have a thermometer on the grill, prepare a medium fire, so that you can hold your hand over the grill for about 3 - 5 seconds. If you have an adjustable height setting for the grill, keep the coals as far from the grill as possible.
When the grill is hot, remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry, trying to leave any herbs on the chicken. Place on the grill, and close the grill. Cook for five minutes, then flip the chicken over. Continue cooking in this manner until the chicken is done, 30 - 55 minutes, flipping every 5 minutes. Check the chicken with a probe thermometer in the thickest part of the meat, but not touching bone. You want a temperature of 160°F.
Remove the chicken from the grill, and carry inside. Let it rest for 5 - 10 minutes, so carry-over cooking will finish bringing the chicken up to 165°F, the minimum recommended temperature for chicken. Serve with your favorite veggies and starch.
NOTES: I prefer grilling chicken with the bone in, as it holds together better. I also prefer to skin on, as it helps keep the meat moist. If you don’t want the skin, pull it off after you grill it. Really large bone-in breasts make take as long as 30 minutes to cook.
You can also do this with pork chops. Just omit the sage from the brine (sage will make the pork taste like sausage). Cook for about 10 minutes, flipping once.
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Posted on Wednesday Mar 2, 2011 at 10:51 PM  
This sounds like it would be really good. Do you use dried or fresh herbs?