For roasted poultry, a nice, relaxing bath in salty and sugary water before it goes into the oven can do wonders for keeping the meat moist and flavorful. But why should the Thanksgiving turkey have all the fun? Couldn’t the chicken on a mid-summer grill benefit from a bit of brine as well?
I learned from a recipe in Cuisine at Home magazine that I clipped a few years ago, that a lazy brine of cola and salt is just what chicken on the grill ordered. The original recipe called for a whole chicken to be cut in half, but I thought I’d try quartering the chicken, partly to make it more easily servable and partly to practice my mediocre chicken dismantling skills. (I’ll spare you the photos.)
Of course, custom-cutting a chicken makes this a two-apron project, since raw chicken isn’t the kind of mess you want to keep around for long. If you don’t want to do it, you could buy a chicken already cut up. The second apron is required after the chicken has brined for a couple hours, when the gloopy rub of salt, brown sugar, spices and vegetable oil gets slathered on.
The rub is highly flavorful, but also highly flammable. I’ve charred the outside of more than one piece of chicken by neglecting to check on it often enough. It can easily drip down into the grill and cause flare-ups that you’ll want to pay better attention to than I did. Fear not, or at least less, however, because the charred skin does not make for a bad piece of chicken. The skin takes the brunt of the abuse and the meat stays flavorful and juicy.
You probably won’t taste anything like cola in your bite of chicken, but it will be moist and delicious. You might taste the extra salt that goes into this dish (I did), so I would suggest serving it with lower-salt side dishes to balance that out a little. Either that or serve plenty of beverages with your meal. Of course you’ll drink them responsibly, whatever they are.
Coke Brined Chicken
from Cuisine at Home June 2007
You could purchase a cut-up chicken (usually 8 parts) if you don’t want to quarter the chicken yourself.
I’ve only made this recipe using a gas grill.
1 whole chicken, cut into quarters
1 liter (about 1 quart) cola (I used Coca-Cola brand)
½ cup kosher salt
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon paprika
1. In a container large enough to hold all of the chicken pieces, combine the cola and ½ cup kosher salt. Add the chicken, making sure all of the pieces are submerged. Refrigerate at least 2 hours (I’ve brined up to 4 hours or so). Stir or shake the container occasionally if some of the salt remains undissolved.
2. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the vegetable oil, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, garlic powder, black pepper, dry mustard and paprika. Place the chicken on a large platter or in a large bowl. Rub the chicken with the oil mixture getting as much of the skin covered as you can. Let stand 15 minutes.
3. Preheat a gas (or charcoal) grill. Adjust the grill to medium-low heat. If some pieces are much larger than others (for example, the chicken I grilled had large breast pieces) you might want to start cooking them sooner. Place the chicken on the grill and cook over the medium-low flame for 40-50 minutes, turning as needed. Test the chicken for doneness by some reliable method. I prefer to use a thermometer probe and allow the chicken to reach an internal temperature of 165 F.
4. When the chicken is done, remove it from the grill to a platter and cover with foil for at least 5 minutes, or to keep warm a little longer if desired.
Makes 4-6 servings.
Another recipe like this one: Chinese Style Barbecue Sauce and Marinade
One year ago: Rich Chocolate Ice Cream
Two years ago: Lemon Herb Potato Salad