Super Bowl Chicken

 

Here in the great northwest, our beloved Seahawks are, miracle of miracles, poised to play their third Super Bowl and first back-to-back appearance therein. I was born and raised in New England, so I'm kinda tied to both contestants. That said, I find Tom Brady insufferable and Belichick a troll, so…

 

GO!

SEA!

HAWKS!

 

If you've not settled on your fare for Da Big Game, consider this: If a nicely grilled chicken is a thing of beauty, then a brined, butterflied bird wins every pageant. Chicken on the grill is hugely popular for good reason, but it’s also a common victim of overcooking, which results in a stringy, dried out final product. A brined, whole chicken stays plump and juicy, even on outdoor cookers.

The process can easily be done between morning coffee and kick off. Here's how.

Purchase a local, whole, free range chicken; fresh and local beats frozen every time. Read this piece through, check your spice cabinet, and head to the seasoning section of your market for anything you don't have, including pickling or canning salt. This non-iodized version has a very fine grain and dissolves readily, even in cold water. Add to your list a local Pilsner, Chardonnay, or a sparkling cider as an accompaniment. Grab some hearts of romaine, some Champagne vinegar, a few lemons, some sharp Asiago cheese, some butter, fresh sourdough, and a head of garlic as well.

 

Start your brine with a gallon of fresh, cold water under 40° F.

Weigh and then stir in 10 ounces of salt; stir to thoroughly dissolve. Toss in,

Juice and zest from 1 small lemon

1 Tablespoon whole Pepper corns

1 teaspoon Sage

1 teaspoon Savory

3 Bay Leaves

 

Pull all the guts out of your chicken, then set the bird in a bowl large enough to handle it and enough brine to cover completely. Weight the bird with a plate to keep it submerged. Brine the bird in the fridge, (or outside if it's cold enough), for 2-3 hours.

Pull the chicken out and discards the brine.

Let the bird rest uncovered in the fridge for 1 hour. Prepare this citrus powered wet rub while your chicken is resting, so the flavors have time to marry.

 

1 Tablespoon black Pepper

1 teaspoon Smoked Sweet Paprika

1/2 teaspoon granulated Garlic

1/2 teaspoon granulated Onion

1 Tablespoon extra virgin Olive Oil

Juice and zest of 1 small Lemon

Juice and zest of 1 small Lime

 

Making a chicken relatively flat is easy as all get out, and if, like Monica, (Sorry, Babe), you have a love-hate relationship with sharp knives, it’s a perfect process for you. A pair of decent kitchen shears is all you need, and here's how you do it.

 

flip your bird over so it’s breast side down.

Take your shears and line them up just to the right or left of the spine, and cut a straight line all the way through from one end to the other. Repeat on the other side of the spine.

That’s all the cutting you’ve got to do. Grab the spine and pull it free of the bird.

Now, turn the bird Breast side up, arrange it evenly, then give it a firm squish with your palms, as if you're giving it CPR. With a firm push or two, you’ll end up with a beautifully butterflied bird, ready to rub and cook. Tuck the wings in against the body, so they'll cook evenly.

Apply the rub liberally and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

 

Preheat your grill.

 

While that's working, cut your romaine hearts in half, shave a generous pile of Asiago, quarter your lemons, and prepare this simple vinaigrette.

1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar

Juice and zest of 1 small lemon

Pinch of Sage, rubbed fine

Pinch of Sea Salt

A few twists of fresh ground black Pepper

Combine all ingredients and whisk briskly. Allow the dressing to sit so the flavors can marry while you cook.

 

Cut slices of sourdough roughly 1/2″ thick, then cut those into cubes. Mince a couple cloves of garlic. Melt 4 ounces of butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Toss in the cubed sourdough and sauté until they start to brown. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until croutons are golden brown, taking care not to burn the garlic. Remove croutons to a clean paper towel and set aside.

 

Start the bird breast side down and grill for 15 minutes. This allows some of the fat to render and the skin to crisp up nicely. Using tongs, carefully flip the whole thing once, and grill for about 20 minutes more.

Check the internal temperature with a quick read thermometer, looking for 155° F.

Remove the bird from the fire and allow a 10 minute rest. The bird will continue to cook during the rest, ending up with an internal temp right around 165° F.

 

Lightly brush each half romaine heart with Olive oil, then squeeze a lemon quarter or two over them as well. Lightly season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Set hearts sliced side down on a moderately hot grill and tend carefully for 1 minute. Flip and grill for another minute. You're not looking to cook the lettuce so much as you're adding a bit of grilled flavor and smoke, heating the oil and citrus somewhat while keeping the insides relatively cool.

Remove hearts from grill and arrange on a platter. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, and toss on some Asiago shavings. Arrange remaining lemon halves around hearts.

 

Portion chicken into breasts, wings, drums, and backs and serve with the salad, croutons and the beverage of your choice.

 

GO HAWKS!

 

 

Butterflied Chicken

Gotta thank our friend Holly O’Reilly for sparking the creative flame on this one, so first off, go over to her blog and check out what she did.

I saw her post, then, as age would have it, promptly forgot I wanted to do it, until a text from Monica the next morning which read ‘Do you know how to butterfly a whole chicken?’

I responded with a ‘Yup, and it’s super easy!’ That made me wonder why it’s been so long since I’ve done it. I honestly don’t recall having prepped a bird this way in at least 20 years, which is truly a shame, because as Holly noted, it makes for a seriously juicy, crispy treat.

So, why is that? Why would this method lead to a better bird? The answer lies in volume. Chicken on the grill, barbeque, or smoker is hugely popular for good reason, but it’s also likely the top candidate for being dried out and overcooked. That, as much as any other factor, is a function of portion size. The smaller the chunk, the easier it is to over do it. Conversely, a whole chicken makes a fine vehicle for staying plump and juicy on outdoor cookers. I’ll usually advocate brining chicken before grilling, but if you’re in a hurry or planning dinner last minute, get a whole bird, butterfly it, and you’ve no need of brine.

Making a chicken relatively flat is easy as all get out, and if, like Monica, (Sorry, Babe), you have a love-hate relationship with sharp knives, it’s a perfect process for you. A pair of decent kitchen shears is all you need.

After checking your birds for giblets, neck, etc, flip it over so it’s breast side down. Take your shears and line them up just to the right or left of the spine, and cut a straight line from cavity to pope’s nose. Repeat on the other side of the spine. That’s all the cutting you’ve got to do, (told y’all it was easy). Grab the spine and pull it away from the bird; there won’t be much left holding it on. Set that aside for stock making later.

Flip the bird over, and arrange it evenly, then give it a squish with your palms. You’ll end up with a beautifully butterflied bird, ready to rub and cook. I tuck the wings in against the body, so they cook without burning before the rest is ready.

We wanted something bright and smoky for the rub; here’s what we used.

1 teaspoon black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Grains of Paradise
1 teaspoon Alderwood Smoked Salt
1 teaspoon Smoked Sweet Paprika
1/2 teaspoon granulated Garlic
1 Tablespoon extra virgin Olive Oil
Juice of 1 Meyer Lemon

Combine all the dry ingredients in a spice grinder and give them a whirl. Add oil and lemon to dry in a small mixing bowl. Allow rub to rest for about 15 minutes, so flavors can marry. Rub evenly over the bird and allow to rest for another 15 minutes while the grill heats up.

I did this one over gas with one flip, starting breast side up, at about 325° F, for an internal temperature of 155° F. Remove it from the fire for a 10 minute rest, and your internal temp ends up right at 165° F.

We served the bird with grilled, marinated asparagus, and a lightly grilled Romaine salad, both with a Dijon vinaigrette made with Champagne vinegar, and a nice, cold Hefeweizen.

As Holly noted, there’re was very little left over, but there was went into the pot to make stock, as it should be.