Herb-brined Smoked Chicken

June 14, 2015
2 Ratings
  • Serves four
Author Notes

While it does take a bit of work in advance, this method of grilling chicken produces a juicy, tender bird with amazing depth of flavor. —zora

What You'll Need
  • 1 three to four pound chicken, preferably pastured or free range
  • 6 cups water, divided
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 small carrot, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 small stalk celery with leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • several stalks of Italian parsley
  • several twigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 heaping tsp. lavender flowers
  • 2 inch piece of orange peel without white pith
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups applewood or hickory wood chips
  • 1 gallon-size zip lock bag
  • 1-2 teaspoons pimenton dulce (Spanish smoked paprika)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
  1. Pour 4 cups water into a saucepan. Add the salt, sugar, aromatic vegetables and herbs, the lavender flowers and orange zest. bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow the pot to sit until the contents have cooled, at least an hour or longer.
  2. Strain out the solids and discard them. Measure the strained liquid. Add the remaining two cups of water, and enough to bring the total to six cups. Refrigerate. (For faster chilling, add ice cubes in lieu of some of the water to bring it up to six cups.)
  3. When the brine is cold, put the chicken into the zip lock bag. Put the bag into a bowl (in case of leaks) and pour the brine on and into the cavity of the chicken. Squeeze out air and seal the bag. Refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
  4. About an hour before you are ready to cook, put the wood chips into a bowl and cover with warm water.
  5. Remove the chicken from the brine, and discard the brine. Do not rinse the chicken. Dry the skin and inside the cavity with paper towels.
  6. For faster cooking, spatchcock the chicken by taking a pair of poultry shears and cutting out the back bone of the chicken: start at the tail and cut through the bones on either side of the spine through to the neck opening. Cut down through the top of the breastbone so that you can open and flatten out the chicken.
  7. Oil the skin of the chicken and generously sprinkle pimenton all over the bird, including the inside.
  8. Prepare a two zone charcoal fire, and when coals are ready to cook, strain the wet wood chips out of their soaking water and distribute them onto the coals. Place the chicken, skin side up, directly over the coals and cover the bbq. Turn over after ten minutes and allow to cook with skin side down directly over the coals for ten to fifteen minutes. Turn chicken and move it the other side of the grate, away from the coals and allow it to cook indirectly until done, turning it around occasionally, around twenty to twenty-five minutes more, depending on the size of the chicken and the heat of the fire. Chicken is done when juices run clear at the thigh joint.
  9. Allow to rest for five to ten minutes, then cut up into 8-10 pieces and serve.

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