Thursday, June 07, 2018

From Frozen Chicken To Perfect BBQ In 90 Minutes

I came home the other night craving BBQ chicken and wanting to have friends over for dinner. I had thighs in the freezer, but nothing thawed. No worries, mate. We've got this covered.

I made a gallon of salt and brown sugar brine in a large pot and put it on the stove. I chucked two packages of thighs, 3 each, 6 total, still frozen together in thigh-bricks, into the brine. I added a pair of Cornish Game Hens that had been hiding out in the back of the freezer. They were little ice balls.

I turned on the heat and let it go, checking the temperature frequently. It plateaued around 85 degrees as the poultry thawed. After about 30 minutes, I could break the thigh-bricks apart and put them back in the brine. At about 40 minutes, I was able to pull out the hens and butterfly them. I put them back in the brine as well. I let the brine get to 120 degrees and then turned the heat down to low. I started the grill and prepared the rub described here.

NOTE: Don't use salt in your rub if you brine the chicken first. It totally oversalts the food! I did that and it almost wrecked the meal. The method described here was still good, but the salt was too much.

Once the charcoal on the grill was ready, I took the bird pieces out of the pot, applied the rub and put them on the grill. I only needed to partially char the skin as the meat was already at about 120. Once I colored the skins, I took them off direct flame, painted them with BBQ sauce and put the lid on the Weber to oven them for about 10 minutes.

And that was it. They came out perfectly, or would have had I not over salted the little brutes. Frozen to BBQ on the table in 90 minutes.



tim eisele said...

I like the sound of this procedure a lot. It is always a problem to get chicken cooked all the way through on a barbecue without charcoaling the surface, even when it isn't frozen.

K T Cat said...

It only took me three decades of grilling to realize that the problem was giving the charcoal grill the task of increasing the inner temperature of the meat by 60-80 degrees.


K T Cat said...

OK, maybe 4 decades.

ligneus said...

Very clever, where did you get that idea from? I do like to thaw stuff slowly in the fridge. Repeated small doses in the M/W work well.

K T Cat said...

Lately, I've taken to thawing things in brine to speed up the process. Water has a high heat transfer rate and I think the salt lowers the thawing temperature. Heating it up is something I discovered after ruining fried chicken in my deep fryer by putting it in too cold. In other words, I made a lot of mistakes!

tim eisele said...

Just out of curiosity, how strong of a brine do you like to use? Are we talking about a few tablespoons of salt per gallon, or a few cups?

I agree that water is an excellent heat-transfer medium, and will definitely melt it much faster than even heated air. And if the brine is salty enough, it will have a lower freezing point than the chicken flesh does, and so you won't get a layer of ice forming on the chicken that would slow down the heat transfer. I'm wondering if a bigger benefit of the brine might be osmosis: if the brine is saltier than the chicken flesh, then water should migrate from the chicken into the brine, and not the other way around. This might keep the chicken from getting soggy, and it should work for any brine salt concentration roughly comparable to seawater (about 3% salt).

K T Cat said...

Tim, I can't get a straight answer out of anyone with the brine. I think for this one it was a half cup each of salt and sugar.