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Backyard Hero Grilled Chicken: Brine, Aromatics and Gravy
Here Comes the Brine...
An amazing, moist and flavorful chicken off of the grill is your reward for a bit of time and preparation using this brining recipe.
Brining bathes your soon-to-be dinner in a solution of water, salt and flavors. Check out the link for the science behind it. I've been brining this way for a decade now and it's a vever-fail bet!
- About 4 Cups Kosher Salt
- 1 cup Orange Juice, Decent "fresh squeezed"
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- 1 cup Lemon Juice, Bottled, from concentrate is fine
- 1 Fresh Jalapeno, diced, seeds and all
- 1/2 large or 1 small Spanish Onion, quartered
- 4 cloves Fresh Garlic, crushed
- 3 tbs Oregano, crush to release flavor
- 3 tbs Thyme, crush to release flavor
Bathe in the Brine
- You will need a water proof container that is about twice the volume of the chicken and will fit in your refrigerator. I often use an empty beer case box lined with a heavy-duty 30 gallon garbage bag (new-of course, non-scented) You may also be able to find giant brining bags in some restaurant supply stores or the like.
- In a non-reactive, large pot, bring a gallon of water to simmer and mix in the Kosher salt, about 4 cups. Once the salt is FULLY dissolved, allow to cool about 1/2 hour. I'll even add ice until the solution is just warm.
- IMPORTANT: The chicken is going to be in the brine for a long time, so it's imperative that the entire brine and chicken can be brought below 40 degrees F as quickly as possible for food safety. NEVER put the chicken in anything more than lukewarm water.
- Pour the brine into the container and add all the other ingredients. Stir
- Place the chicken in the brine and fill with cold water until the bird is covered a few inches. Remember, it will float in the brine, so push it down while adding the water until it is measured out properly. Be sure the solution fills the bird's cavities.
- If you have a brining bag, simply seal the top, forcing all the air out. If you used my garbage bag idea, tie the bag off at the top, forcing out the air. I've placed a heavy glass bowl on top of the closed bag to keep the chicken as far down in the brine as possible.
- If you are doing MULTIPLE CHICKENS: If you have them all in the same brining bag/box, just up the other ingredients by half again, and add 2 more cups of salt in STEP 2. If they are in separate containers, you're best to use a full recipe for each.
- Place all of this in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.
- When it is ready to go on the grill, remove it from the brine and rinse it off in fresh water
Aromatics and Gravy
"Aromatics" is a fancy way of saying great smelling herbs - but it sure sounds impressive! Adding herbs and spices and veggies to the cavity of the bird will serve to flavor the juices that flow into the drip pan on the grill so that you have the basis of an amazing gravy.
STUFF THE BIRD WITH: Fresh rosemary, thyme, basil, garlic cloves, a quarter of yellow onion, sliced carrots and celery.
GRAVY: When you are done grilling, pour any remaining juices into the drip pan. In a pot on the stove, reduce these down to about half. Using a slotted spoon, take out any big pieces of veggies, etc. Pour the liquid through a strainer into a tall glass. Let it settle until the fat is floating on top. Using a turkey baster, suck out below the fat so you just get the juice and return that to the cooking pot. Taste. If it's too salty, cut with low-sodium chicken broth until it's right.
Heat to a boil and add corn starch to thicken. HINT: in a small cup, add about 3 tbs of corn starch into hot water and stir with a fork. strain this into another cup to remove any lumps. Now, use the lump-free mixture to make lump-free gravy!
GRILL: Now, head on over to my article on a perfectly grilled and smoked chicken to finish off this amazing meal!