A marked improvement over previous attempts at lemon and herb chicken, these planked quarters burst with an incredible bright and acidic lemon flavor paired with a herbal freshness.
I'm on a constant mission to squeeze as much flavor into chicken as possible. It's a blank canvas of meat with a relatively light flavor; the possibilities are endless. But I often find myself trying to improve my favorite lemon and herb chicken, and I think I've reached a new level of greatness with these planked chicken quarters.
For this recipe, I took a different approach, cutting a few slashes on the leg and thigh quarters to create ravines for the lemon and herb baste to sink into. The chicken was then brined and grilled over direct heat until the skin crisped. Finally, the quarters rested on wood planks over indirect heat, and were brushed with the baste.
When finished, the chicken came out looking beautifully browned with attractive specs of herbs coating the skin. They were bursting with a bright acidic lemon flavor and an herbal freshness.
- For the Brine
- 2 quarts cold water
- 1/3 cup Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 4 whole chicken leg and thigh quarters
- For the Baste
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium cloves garlic, mashed with a pinch of salt into a paste
- 1/2 cup lemon juice from about 4 lemons
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 wood grilling planks, soaked for 1 hour prior to use
- Type of fire: two-zone indirect
- Grill heat: medium-high
To make the brine: Whisk together water, salt, and sugar in a large container until salt and sugar are dissolved. Cut 3-4 slashes down to the bone on skin side of chicken. Submerge chicken quarters in brine. Place container in refrigerator and brine for 1 hour.
While chicken is brining, place olive oil and garlic paste in a small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. When oil starts to bubble around garlic, remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in lemon juice, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove chicken from brine, pat dry with paper towels. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place chicken over hot side of grill, skin side down. Cook until skin is browned and slightly crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to tray.
Place planks over hot side of the grill until they start to char and smoke. Flip planks over and move to cool side of grill and arrange chicken quarters on top of planks skin side up. Brush chicken liberally with baste. Cover grill and cook until chicken registers 165°F when an instant read thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of thigh, 20 to 30 minutes more.
Transfer chicken to serving platter and brush with baste again. Let rest for 5 minutes, then serve.
Grill, Wood Planks