Rubs, marinades, glazes and now brining – all great ways to add flavour to chicken. Here are the basics of brining plus a Smokey Maple Brine for a whole chicken or bone in pieces.
Smokey Maple Brine
3-4 lbs whole chicken or bone in pieces
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup Kosher or pickling salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 tsp whole peppercorns
2 tsps chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp dried basil leaves
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 onion, sliced
3 clove garlic, quartered
2 cups warm water
5 cups ice water
In a sauce pot combine first 10 brine ingredients with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.
Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes to start to cool. Stir in 5 cups ice cold water. Brine should now be at room temperature. If not, cool brine in the fridge till it’s room temperature or colder.
Put whole chicken or chicken pieces in a large resealable plastic bag. Put the bag in a large bowl or pot. Pour brine over chicken. Squeeze air out of bag and seal the bag. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours.
Remove chicken from brine and place on a rack over a pan. Throw out brine. Loosely cover chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. One hour before cooking, remove chicken from fridge to allow it to come to room temperature. Pat dry with paper towels.
Grill or roast at 400F until a thermometer inserted into the meat reads 180F (for whole chicken) or 170F (for chicken pieces).
Tip: A whole chicken cooks more quickly if you use a vertical roaster (as seen in the video). This handy gadget is often called a beer can chicken roaster and you’ll find them in the grilling section of home improvement stores or in specialty kitchen stores. Use them on the barbecue or in the oven. If you can’t find a vertical roaster, create your own using a beverage can (355 mL size or larger) and a pie plate. Make sure you poke 3-4 holes in the top of the can and remove about a 1/4 of the liquid before placing the chicken on the can. The can will explode if you don’t. The beverage in the can will flavour the chicken – experiment with juice, beer or soft drinks. Or fill an empty can with your own special blend of liquid and seasonings.