A few days ago, I prepared the best chicken (perfect chicken) I have ever (ever is a long time) put in my mouth – and I have eaten a lot of chicken. This was cooked in a Big Green Egg but may be roasted in any smoker or even the oven in your kitchen. The 3/8 inch steaks cut from the breast could be easily cut with a knife and were deliciously moist. Let’s get to the recipe.
5# organic roasting chicken (or smaller if you prefer)
½ cup Kosher salt
3/8 cup light brown sugar
2 quarts water
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Extra salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Brine the bird, after washing in cold water, in a 1-2 gallon freezer bag 2-3 hours. The brine is made with ½ cup Kosher salt and 3/8 cup light brown sugar dissolved in 2 quarts of water. Dry the bird inside and out and rub a small amount of the olive oil over the chicken both inside and out. Thoroughly cover the bird inside and out with salt and pepper – more is better than less. Place ½ lemon, along with the rosemary and thyme into the cavity and truss the wings (tie with string) close to the body and truss the legs together and close the cavity as much as you can.
Preheat the “cooker” to 400 degrees F. I added sugar maple chips to the charcoal. I used a BBQ Guru DigiQ to easily control the temperature. Place the chicken, breast side up, in a disposable roasting pan on the grill in the smoker or oven – place the other lemon half in the pan. Cook until an instant thermometer reads 165 degrees F in the thick part of the breast – this took about 1 hour and 45 minutes with the 5 pound bird. The time to reach the desired temperature will depend on the size of the chicken, the temperature of the chicken when beginning to cook, and the accuracy of the temperature of our cooker. I basted the chicken with the juices in the pan at an hour and again at 1 ½ hours – do not leave the smoker or oven open long. Remove the chicken from the pan and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
When carving, I cut a mid-line incision lengthwise over the breast bone and carefully cut the meat away from the ribs, giving two half breasts – then cut these into 3/8 inch steaks crosswise. Finish carving the wings and legs/thighs. Enjoy!