For the past two weeks I have hesitated to post this recipe. Not because we didn't like it, but I am the slowest typist and the recipe was quite detailed. Things have been a bit crazy around here and until we get into our September "back to school" routine, I feel like I am pressed for time. So, tonight I talked my son, Stephen, into typing the recipe and then I could add the storyline. (Thank you, Stephen!)
I am now very excited to tell you about this recipe because many of the chicken recipes we create and report on are made with boneless chicken breasts. This can get a bit boring. You forget how good the whole chicken really is...thighs, wings, drumsticks and breasts.
Having quite a few mouths to feed, we decided to try this recipe. It was in the Cook's Illustrated, Summer Entertaining 2010 Magazine. Jeff made it the first time with the Pasta and Squash with Tomatoes, Basil and Pine Nuts recipe which I blogged about two weeks ago.
To begin...huge, huge, hit! Charcoal grilled, lemony, garlicky...finger lickin' good!
Not only were people grabbing for different pieces, everyone remarked at how nice it was to have something other than the chicken breasts. Then, the leftovers turned out to be even better the next day. The lemon-garlic flavor was more pronounced than the night before. Whether eating the chicken cold off the bone or peeled to make sandwiches, our family talked about that meal for days.
As summer is winding down and cook-outs become less and less, I thought I could share this recipe with you for two reasons: 1. The weather is supposed to be wonderful this weekend, giving you an opportunity to give this recipe a try. 2. You can serve this hot or cold, meaning...great for Fall tailgating.
Check out the recipe and give it a try...be the hit of the gathering!
3/4 cup kosher or 1/2 cup table salt
2 whole chickens (about 3 1/2 pounds each), cut into drumsticks, thighs, breasts, and wings; backs reversed for another use
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced and made into paste
1 cup juice from 5-6 lemons
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
1. Dissolve salt in 2 quarts water, in large bowl or two gallon-size zip lock plastic bags. Add chicken parts (seal zip-lock bags, if using), and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove chicken from brine, rinse very well, dry thoroughly with paper towels, and season with pepper.
2. About 30 minutes before cooking, light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, about 100 briquettes) and burn until coals are fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash, about 20 minutes. Build modified 2-level fire, arranging coals over two-thirds of grill, leaving one-third empty. Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat grate until hot, about 5 minutes. Grill is ready when coals are medium-hot. Scrape grate clean with grill brush. Lightly dip wad of paper towels in oil; holding wad with tongs, wipe cooking grate.
3. Heat olive oil and garlic in small saucepan over low heat until garlic starts to sizzle but not color, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat; combine garlic and lemon juice in large, shallow, nonreactive 13 by 9-inch baking dish or similar pan; set aside. (Dry herbs may be added to garlic-lemon mixture at this point; fresh herbs should not be added until just before coating chicken.)
4. Grill chicken skin side down on hotter side of grill, pulling chicken over to cooler side if flare-ups occur or if skin starts to char, and flipping and moving pieces to ensure even cooking, until chicken is dark golden brown and registers between 160 and 165 degrees on instant-read thermometer for breasts and 170 and 175 degrees for thighs, drumsticks, and wings (about 15 to 20 minutes). Transfer chicken pieces to lemon sauce and roll to coat completely. Return pieces to cooler side of grill; heat until lemon sauce flavors meat, about 5 minutes longer, turning each piece and brushing with sauce once or twice more. Return chicken to pan and coat in lemon sauce once more; serve warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy!