Bay-leaf and citrus in a garlicky brine makes for flavorful and moist chicken on the grill, or out of the oven or the smoker... A spectacular pairing with Hey Kid! Viognier or Forks on the Left "Mixed Blacks"
Makes 1.25 – 1.5 gallons of brine (easily enough for up to 12 pounds of cut-up poultry, double the recipe for large/whole birds)
- 1 quart water
- 1 cup salt
- ½ cup light-brown sugar (demerara sugar is lovely if you can find it)
- 10-15 dried Turkish bay-leaves, gently crumbled
- 1 head of garlic cut in half “crosswise” (slicing through all the cloves)
- 1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 10-15 sprigs of thyme
- 1 whole star anise
- 1 orange, halved “crosswise”
- 1 lemon, halved “crosswise”
- 1 lime, halved “crosswise”
- (optional) zest removed from outside of all 3 citrus before halving – this step adds a little extra citrusy “zip”
- Lots of ice plus a little water to equal 3 more quarts (measure this just before using)
1) Place 1 quart water, 1 cup salt, ½ cup light brown sugar, bay leaves, thyme, garlic, pepper corns, and star anise in a large pot and turn heat to medium.
2) Squeeze each citrus half over the pot until it releases much of its juice into the brine mixture (don’t worry about the amount too much, just get a nice bit of it in there). After squeezing, gently place the juiced “halves” into the brine as well. If you’ve removed the zest, add it to the brine now too.
3) Bring to a quietly bubbling simmer, 7 minutes or so, stirring occasionally to make sure all the salt and sugar have dissolved.
4) Remove brine from heat and let cool to room temperature.
5) Place the reserved 3 quarts of ice/water in a very large, non-reactive pot (enameled or stainless) or in a “brining bag”* and pour in the room-temperature brine mixture. Combine well.
6) Your brine mixture is ready. Add your poultry, making sure it’s completely covered in brine and refrigerate overnight.
*Available online here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003IHU3RW/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_2?pf_rd_p=1944687722&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B000FDL5WE&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0871X7ZWY21D30JDFQX2 or at many food-specialty markets.