Bourbon love is widespread, and if you’re like me, well, first of all, welcome to my world, and second, you’re likely wondering “How can I can get more bourbon into my life?” One of the easiest ways to do this is in your food prep, and in this case, your grilling. It turns out that bourbon is a wonderful and tasty way to flavor grilled foods and satisfy that bourbon fix you’re after.
On this particular day, I had the smoke of the grill curling up to the heavens.
It was as if the grill wanted to announce that something good was about to go down. And it was. The two plump, chicken breasts that I held in my hands had a date with a hardwood fire.
It is a fact that there are endless brining possibilities out there, but the right choice for today is…you guessed it, bourbon, or as it is properly called, the nectar of the smoking gods. This will be easy, tasty, and a little fun along the way.
We start with the aforementioned bourbon brine. I like to use Four Roses bourbon for cooking.
It really is flavorful, tasty and mild enough for all grilling situations. Here is how it starts.
- Pour roughly 3 fingers of bourbon, or 4 ounces, into 2 individual glasses. (You’re only going to use 1 glass for brining, but hey, let’s be realistic. We all know where this is going, so using personal preference, you can now add ice to the second one if you so choose)
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- Fresh herbs of your choice. (I used fresh spicy oregano, and a sprig of fresh rosemary)
Get a large Ziploc bag, and mix the ingredients in the bag. Add the chicken, and then also add enough cold water to cover the chicken. Swish it around and mix it well. Squeeze out the air, secure the bag, and then squeeze in the flavor. Set the bag aside in the fridge for at least an hour.
While your chicken is drinking in and thanking you for this delicious bourbon brine soak, set up your grill for indirect cooking, coals all off to one side.
When you are ready to start grilling, remove the tipsy breasts from the brine, and pat dry. Don’t discard the bourbon brine solution just yet though.
Gather up your favorite spices or poultry rub, and give those breasts a good pat down. I saw that smile. Rub it on, rub it in, and rub it all around until no surface has gone untouched.
This is also when, depending how freely you’ve dipped into the bourbon yourself, you know, kind of freelancing it, that you “do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, because that’s what it’s all about” ;^)
Just don’t get too distracted.
Now back to the bourbon brine solution. Instead of simply dumping that used brine, go ahead and use it in your water pan, situated next to the coals, under the cooking grate. This will help keep the breasts moist, and perhaps infuse a little more essence, at least to the griller if not the grill-ee.
Go ahead and lay the seasoned chicken on the cooler, indirect side of the grill, above the water pan, and add any wood chips if desired. Hickory wood is a great complement to the flavors used up to this point. Hickory wood soaked in bourbon get you bonus points immediately. Close the grill lid, and let the cooking begin. The wood and the water pan will now take over the cooking duties, allowing you to get that much-needed sitting down time that one needs every now and again, you know, after perhaps refilling that empty glass you’re likely looking at.
After twenty minutes or so, raise the lid and give these breasts a peek. They’ll be getting that beautiful bronze color, signifying that it’s time to flip and rotate them.
Continue the cooking process with the lid closed, checking again in another fifteen or twenty minutes. You’re looking for a reading of 160 degrees internal temperature. When the proper temperature is reached, remove the chicken from the grill. Enjoy the aroma and the visual appeal. Anticipate the subtle flavors from the brine, the layers of bourbon, and brown sugar along with the fresh herbs. Anticipate the juiciness provided by the bourbon brining process, and rejoice in the fact that you’ve found a new avenue for infusing bourbon into your daily goings on.