Barbecued chicken is a staple for most backyard cooks. When done right, it’s a wonderful thing; when wrong, well, it’s like gnawing on barbecued shoe leather. The problem is, chicken doesn’t come rare or medium but for safety reasons it comes prepared one way-done, and prolonged exposure to high heat, as a rule, saps the juices out. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is one way to have your barbecued chicken served at its juiciest-brined.
Brining is a simple process where you immerse meat in a saltwater solution-for one to 24 hours-made with kosher salt, sugar and herbs. Brining, in a nutshell, locks in the meat’s natural juices. In scientific terms, the solution binds the proteins together within the meat. All you really need to know is that your guests and family will thank you.
In most parts of the country, barbecue season is no longer restricted to the summer months. In fact, many Americans are having a yearlong love affair with their barbecue. That’s a long time to settle for dry meat. So for your first foray into the world of brining, or if you’re an old pro, try this recipe offered by America’s authority on salt, Morton Salt.
Chicken Worth Its Salt
1 quart cool water
3/4 cup Morton® Kosher Salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 chicken (3 to 31/2 lbs.) cut into 8 pieces, rinsed and patted dry, or 2 split chicken breasts (bone in, skin on)
In a gallon-size sealable plastic bag, dissolve the Morton® Kosher Salt and sugar in 1 quart of cool water. Add the chicken, then seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Refrigerate for one hour and up to 24. Remove chicken from the brine; rinse well under cool water. Pat dry with paper towel.
Heat grill 10 to 15 minutes. Season chicken as desired. Place chicken on grill, skin side down. Cook covered following manufacturer’s suggestions. Check for doneness with instant-read thermometer-internal temperature reaches 170° F for poultry breast meat and 180° F for poultry thigh meat.