Thursday, June 7, 2012

Extra-Juicy BBQ Chicken Legs

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I have recently discovered a great easy trick for juicy, flavorful meat – brining!  I know, it’s not exactly new.  We’ve been brining our Thanksgiving turkey for quite some time now, and Hubs usually brines the meat when he plans an all-day BBQing session.  As a result, I’ve always thought of a brine as a special-occasion thing, when in reality it’s super simple. 

It only takes a minute to put together my easy brine of salt, sugar, peppercorns and herbs.  It works with pretty much any meat, from chicken legs to pork chops to big roasts.  The meat absorbs the salty brine and retains that moisture while cooking for a delicious, extra-juicy result.

First off, forget the brining bag.  That’s great for giant turkeys and all, but if you’re just brining a few pieces of meat for dinner a bowl works great.

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I put my brine ingredients (recipe below) in the bottom of the bowl and add water while whisking constantly to help dissolve the salt and sugar.  I’m sure it doesn’t dissolve as completely as if you heated it up and cooled it back down, but I don’t have time for that sort of effort and I really didn’t want to risk putting raw chicken in liquid that was too warm – bad idea!

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Then just drop the meat in the brine, cover it and put it in the fridge and let osmosis do the rest!  Here’s some approximate brine times courtesy of About.com’s BBQ Tips

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You don’t need to rinse the meat after brining, but I do recommend drying it off to help develop the crust when it’s cooking (I follow this basic practice with all meats, brined or not).  Then cook it any way you like!  Here’s how we did ours:

Extra-Juicy BBQ Chicken Legs

Serves 2, plus leftovers

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken legs
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce (we used Sweet Baby Ray’s, entire sauce line is gluten free)
  • Salt & pepper

For the brine:

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary and some pineapple sage, or any herbs of choice
  • 4 cups cold water, more if needed to cover chicken entirely

Directions

Combine the brine ingredients in a large bowl and add the water, whisking constantly to dissolve.  Add the chicken legs, cover and brine in the fridge for approximately 4 hours.

Take the legs out of the brine, dry them off and season with salt and pepper.  Bake at 425 for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until their internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Allow to rest for five minutes, then brush with the barbecue sauce. 

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Hope this inspires you to give brining a shot!  You might have to plan a little bit ahead of time, but the results are worth it.

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