Updated: Jul 25
For this recipe I wanted to make a simple grilled half a chicken and take it to another level. In order to do that I created a 4% citrus brine to inject as much flavour as possible. The benefits of brining the chicken is to create a much more succulent and flavourful bird. I added a Thai influence by introducing coconut milk, galangal and kafir lime leaves to the recipe. I highly recommend cooking chicken this way as when you try it you will always seek to brine before grilling. I will split this recipe up into day 1 and 2 to make things easier as the brining process will take 24 hours. Lets get to it!
To serve 2
1 whole medium free range chicken
1 baby gem lettuce
1 green chilli
1 pink grapefruit (75ml juiced)
5 limes (75ml juiced)
2 lemons (50ml juiced)
1 mango (150g pulp)
30g palm sugar
2 red chilli
5cm piece galangal or ginger
4 kafir lime leaves
15g sea salt
Pepper and coconut sauce:
6 small mixed peppers
1 red chilli
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp palm sugar
30g creamed coconut or 75ml coconut milk
75ml of the brine
To begin this recipe lets start with the brine. This ideally is best done 24 hours prior to cooking if possible, however at least 8 hours should also be ok. Start by juicing all of the citrus into small containers which should leave you with the approximate amount in mls as stated in the ingredients. Now in a large bowl add, 75ml grapefruit juice, 75ml of lime, 50ml of lemon and 150g of sliced mango pulp. Now we have all of the citrus juice add, 30g palm sugar, 2 red (deseeded) chillis, a 5cm piece of chopped galangal, 4 ripped kafir lime leaves and finally 15g of sea salt. Pulse with either a hand blender or food processor briefly to liquidise all together. When ready place the brine to one side.
2. Now that the brine is made we can move onto to breaking down the chicken. Cut the chicken into 2 halves by slicing directly down the back bone. When cut into 2 pieces make an incision into the thigh section to reveal the thigh bone. Carefully slice around the bone so that it becomes more visible then carefully ease out by cutting around the bone. Remove the thigh bone and leave the bones in the leg and breast to ensure a moist chicken when cooked. (We will remove the breast bone when the chicken has been cooked). You can also trim the bottom of the leg if you wish but this step is totally optional.
3. When the thigh bone has been removed from each chicken half we can now add the chicken to the brine. Add both halves to the brine and ensure all of the chicken is submerged. Cover in clingfilm and brine either overnight or for 24 hours in the fridge. You do not want to brine longer than 24 hours as the citrus will overcook the chicken almost like a ceviche.
After the brining process has finished you will notice that part of the chicken has become slightly cooked. This is down to the citrus in the brine and is perfectly normal. Remove the chicken from the brine and place the chicken onto a tray lined with kitchen paper. Allow the chicken to slightly dry in the kitchen paper for approx 30 minutes before cooking. For the brine keep to one side as this will play part in the sauce.
2. For the sauce begin by roughly chopping 1 shallot, 1 red chilli, 6 small red peppers and 2 garlic cloves. Add the vegetables to a pan with a drizzle of olive oil and sweat on a medium heat. When the vegetables become fragrant and soft add 1 tbsp palm sugar, 30g creamed coconut and approximately 100ml of the brine. Turn the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
4. When cooked check the seasoning of the sauce, you want that classic Thai balance of sweet, salty and sour. For sweeter add more palm sugar, salty add salt or fish sauce and sour more lime juice if needed. When satisfied pulse the sauce with a stick blender or food processor to brake down. When all the ingredients are broken down pass the sauce through a fine sieve and place the sauce to one side.
5. At this point the chicken should have dried slightly to ensure us having a crispier skin. To grill simply brush a small amount of cooking oil over the chicken and place onto a hot griddle pan. Create a clean cross hatch on the skin by turning the chicken twice on the griddle. When the chicken is nicely charred place onto a baking tray and cook in a hot oven set at 190°c for approximately 15 minutes. You want the core temperature of the chicken to be roughly 67°c. When the chicken is ready place onto a tray and allow to rest for 10 minutes covered with tinfoil.
6. Now to serve, prepare the baby gem, chilli and some roasted cherry tomatoes. When ready place the cooked chicken onto a chopping board and carefully remove the breast bone by cutting around the bone. Carve the chicken into bite sized pieces then reheat the sauce back in a small pan. Plate this one how ever you wish...Hope you enjoy my version of grilled chicken!
As for what else you could add to the dish then some fresh coconut rice or simply more salad would work perfectly. As for the brine I went with a 4% salt to liquid ratio as standard however, instead of using citrus fruits you could simply add water, spices and salt although it would lack that zing. Instead of grilling the chicken you could also just pan fry if you don't have a griddle pan. Have fun with this recipe!