Everything we have cooked on the Weber as of late has tasted bloody delicious. We’re pretty sure the flavours have had something to do with the types of fuel we’ve used, so to give you an idea of the kind of smoky flavours we’ve achieved, we’ve been using a combination of grapevine prunings and branches/twigs from native Australian trees (in the base of the Weber to get the fire going), charcoal beads to keep it going, and a generous amount of rosemary sprigs thereafter, put directly on the grill, to smoke things up.
For the past two weekends’ this beer-brined BBQ chicken was the centrepiece of the Weber. It’s easy to make and the smoky, salty flavour is outstanding. It has a strong Continental flavour that, oddly, almost resembles lightly salted smoked pork or turkey. Last weekend we served it with some grilled pineapple slices and bananas baked in their skins on the grill, though this weekend we served it with a side of creamy baked potatoes (individually wrapped in foil and cooked on the grill), luscious baked apple pieces (from 4 apples peeled, cored, quartered, wrapped together in foil and cooked on the grill), roasted garlic (foiled and grilled), a slice or two of grilled orange, and a slice of potato and spinach dumpling (made today using some leftover potato and spinach soup we had – a recipe we’ll post another day!). While we were barbequing we thought we’d also put on a few generic sausages that we bought from the supermarket yesterday. This turned out a great way to improve the boring, mass-produced sausages, as the smokiness imparted by the Weber gave them a yummy Continental look, flavour and aroma that went down a treat. The recipe for the smoky beer-brined chicken went something like this…
Read some poetry on the weekend’s festivities here.
Whole 1.5kg chicken, backbone removed
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
3 bay leave broken up (fresh are best but dry will do)
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of paprika (smoked is better)
200-250 ml of beer (I used a home-brewed light brown Canadian bitter ale … Pils or light ales would also work well, but feel free to use anything you have on hand).
oil for basting
- Get your BBQ lit and ready to cook.
- Take the backbone out of the chicken and save it for a stock or feed it to your dog or cat.
- Open the chicken and flatten it out. Removal of the backbone makes this possible.
- Placing some bamboo skewers vertically and horizontally through the chicken helps make it easy to manipulate the chook when it is on the BBQ, but also when turning it over while marinading, so do this now.
- In a large bowl combine all other ingredients except the oil and whisk well to dissolve all the sugar and salt.
- Put the chicken in and if possible work some of the brine under the skin with your hands.
- Leave for about 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temp (this brine is quite strong and doesn’t take long to get the flavour into the chicken).
- Before cooking, lift the chook out of the brine, discard the brine, and brush the skin side of the chook with oil.
- Put onto the BBQ (over indirect heat if it’s hot coals) skin side down.
- Cook for about 20 minutes and then turn it skin side up.
- Cook for an additional hour, basting constantly with the oil.
- After an hour, check to see if it’s cooked by piercing a thigh or leg. If the juices run clear you should be okay to serve. If there is any trace of pink in the juices cook for an additional 15-20 minutes before doing another juice check, continually basting.
- When ready, place chook on a chopping board and cut into 4-8 portions, cutting through the joints.
Serve and enjoy! We served up ours with a small dollop of wholegrain mustard, and a glass of refreshing homemade ginger beer.
Note: You could also cook this in an oven if you don’t want to fire up the barbeque. Just place it skin side up in a roasting tray and cook at 180C for about an hour and a half, basting from time to time. This method will still be good but won’t have the smokey flavour of a chicken cooked over coals.