The simple process of brining takes barbecued chicken from pedestrian to mouthwatering in as little as 15 minutes. And the sauce...bring an extra stack of napkins because you’re going to be licking it off your elbows!
- 2 quarts water
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed with the side of a large knife
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 chickens (3 1/2 - 4 pounds each), quartered
- The Ultimate Barbecue Sauce:
- 1 slice bacon
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Freshly ground black pepper
1. For the brine, combine the water, salt, sugar, garlic and thyme in a 2-gallon sized resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken, close the bag and refrigerate 2 hours (if you’ve only got 15 minutes, that’s fine) to allow the salt and seasonings to penetrate the chicken.
2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Wrap the bacon around the bunch of thyme and tie with kitchen twine so you have a nice bundle. Heat a 2-count of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add your thyme and cook slowly 3-4 minutes to render the bacon fat and give the sauce a nice smoky taste. Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly without coloring for 5 minutes. Add all of the rest of the ingredients, give the sauce a stir and turn the heat down to low. Cook slowly for 20 minutes to meld the flavors.
3. Preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal barbecue to a medium heat. Take a few paper towels and fold them several times to make a thick square. Blot a small amount of oil on the paper towel and carefully and quickly wipe the hot grates of the grill to make a non-stick surface. Take the chicken out of the brine, pat it dry on paper towels and cook, turning once, 15 minutes. Then brush the chicken with the sauce and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through, 5-10 more minutes. Serve with extra sauce.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Clarkson Potter 2006. All rights reserved.
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