Sweet Tea-Brined Chicken & Melting Our Way into Summer

Today, I’m considering turning my food blog into the only non-cooking food blog out there.  I never want to cook again. I plan on living the rest of my life on cucumbers, sandwiches, sweet tea and frosty glasses of booze.  Or at least until the temperatures in my kitchen fall below 90.

Living in an old house is a wonderful adventure.  It also can bite the big one.  Our kitchen has no walls and no A/C.  So the only way we have to moderate the temperatures is to not turn the oven on and to only use the stove for short periods of time.  We also keep it as dark as a tomb.  Shades only get raised for pictures, then they’re closed again and we shuffle around in the darkness, praying that a cat doesn’t trip us.

I made pimento cheese the other day to post on the blog.  It’s delicious.  Two different kinds of cheese, piquillo peppers and all sorts of goodness.  And it looks like it was made out of Velveeta, red construction paper and glue.  It looks like a giant, gooey, orange hot mess.  All because it is so freaking hot in our kitchen.  So that recipe will come another day when I can make the pictures look as appetizing as they should.  Instead, I want to talk about chicken.  This delicious, amazing chicken.

It’s wonderfully moist and smoky and sweet and salty. The garlic, lemon, onion and tea add complexity to the brine that transfers to the chicken.  It’s fabulous hot off the grill and it’s equally delicious when you sneak into the kitchen late at night, stand in front of the fridge to cool off and eat it like a thief in the night.  It’s the perfect summertime recipe. You don’t have to heat up your kitchen and it is delicious. It also goes well with frosty glasses full of booze. What’s not to like about it?

Sweet Tea-Brined Chicken
Adapted from Southern Living
Makes 6-8 servings

2 family-size tea bags
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, halved
2 (6-inch) fresh rosemary sprigs
1 tablespoon freshly cracked pepper
2 cups ice cubes
1 (3 1/2- to 4-lb.) cut-up whole chicken

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Remove from heat, cover and let steep for ten minutes.  Discard tea bags.  Stir in sugar, kosher salt, onion, lemon, garlic, rosemary and cracked pepper.  Stir until the sugar dissolves.  Cool completely (45min to an hour) and stir in ice cubes.

Pour mixture into a large zip-top bag.  Add chicken to bag and let marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.  Remove chicken from bag and pat dry with paper towels. Discard marinade.

If you are using a gas grill turn on the burners on one side, close the lid until the temperature reaches approximately 350 degrees.  For a charcoal grill, place briquettes along one side and wait until they’re gray and no flame is present.  Place the chicken skin side down on the grill on the opposite side of the lit burner or charcoal, away from the direct heat, and put the lid back on the grill.  After 20 minutes flip them over and cook for another 40 to 50 minutes with the lid on.   If you have a meat thermometer, the chicken should be at 160 degrees.  Remove the lid and place chicken directly over the heat, skin side down to crisp the skin.  Remove to a platter, let stand for 5 minutes and serve.



14 Comments on Sweet Tea-Brined Chicken & Melting Our Way into Summer

  1. Kate @ Savour Fare
    June 3, 2011 at 1:37 pm (3 years ago)

    Honey, you need to discover the joys of gazpacho! It’s just BLENDING. Also, pimento cheese always looks like velveeta, which is one of its chief joys.

    However, this chicken looks completely scrumptious and I am so tea marinating some this weekend. I’m thinking lapsang souchong.

    • Kristina
      June 4, 2011 at 10:05 am (3 years ago)

      Kate – it’s barely June. Unfortunately, I don’t live in the wonderment of Southern California so I have no access to tomatoes that would be worthy of gazpacho. Plus I use white cheddar as part of my recipe so for it to turn out looking like Velveeta is disconcerting to me. It’s not right. I love the idea of using lapsang souchong.

  2. Russ
    June 3, 2011 at 1:39 pm (3 years ago)

    This looks and sounds delicious.

    • Kristina
      June 4, 2011 at 10:06 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks Russ!

  3. Darlynne
    June 3, 2011 at 1:47 pm (3 years ago)

    I have all the ingredients for a change, even a surplus of tea bags. Thank you! I’m off to start the brewing/marinating.

    • Kristina
      June 4, 2011 at 10:06 am (3 years ago)

      Darlynne – let me know how it turns out for you!

  4. Paula
    June 3, 2011 at 2:42 pm (3 years ago)

    Ooh yum! That sounds and looks like I’d better try that this weekend, which is finally going to be Hot! We’ve been so rained out and chilly this spring up here in the PNW.

    We don’t have air conditioning either and aren’t going to get one. I’d forgotten what hot summer living is like while I lived in Florida, because you know, everything is air conditioned in Florida. So keeping the house shut and dark and not cooking is what we do as well. Cook outside, and eat a lot of sandwiches and salads. And drink beer and gin and tonics, my favorite hot weather quaff. Who cares if alcohol raises your body temperature? Just ignore it!

    • Kristina
      June 6, 2011 at 11:52 am (3 years ago)

      Gin is my favorite summer booze as well. We muddled together mint, sugar, cucumbers and lime last night and added gin. So wonderful. I would die here without air conditioning so we do have room units and as soon as we can swing it, we’ll put in central air. I would rather go without heat than go without A/C.

  5. Jim
    June 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm (3 years ago)

    This looks amazing! I’ve never even thought of using tea in a brine.

    • Kristina
      June 16, 2011 at 4:08 pm (3 years ago)

      I never had either Jim!

  6. Chez Us
    June 8, 2011 at 11:04 am (3 years ago)

    Let’s talk Chicken and amazingly gorgeous these photos are!!!! LOVE IT! Brining is about the best way to go with chicken isn’t it. Have always wanted to try a tea brine, and you have just inspired me. Wouldn’t this go nicely with your savory bread pudding? Just saying …. ;)

    Miss ya!!

    • Kristina
      June 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm (3 years ago)

      Miss you so much Denise! And it always makes me so happy to hear from you if a picture looks good. I consider that an amazing compliment.

  7. kellypea @ sass & veracity
    June 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm (3 years ago)

    I think I need to make this this weekend. Looks and sounds amazing as I sit here with my taste buds doing that squenchy thing. Crazy!

    I get you on the heat. It rarely gets close to that hot at our house and today, I’m staring at steel grey skies — the norm for June. Bleh. Hope some cool comes your way.

  8. Jess
    July 24, 2011 at 11:20 am (3 years ago)

    I just found you and I will be back! LOVE the recipes that you post! This will be the first one I try….it looks sooooooo good and sounds like something that we’ll love. Thanks!


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