The brine in this recipe imparts a subtle citrusy flavor, offset by the mellowness of the beer and the freshness of thyme. Prep this ahead (as the chicken requires an 8-hour brine) for tomorrow’s dinner.
- 2 cups water
- 2 (12-ounce) cans or bottles beer
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 lemons, halved
- 2 oranges, halved
- 2 limes, halved
- 1 whole Smart Chicken
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Using kitchen shears, cut along each side of the whole chicken to the remove the backbone. (Save the backbone for chicken stock or transfer to an air-tight bag, seal, and freeze to use later). After the backbone is cut out, flip the bird over and press down hard to flatten the breast bone.
In a pot over medium heat, combine the water, beer, brown sugar, salt, and fresh thyme sprigs. Squeeze in the juice from all of the citrus fruits and add the rinds. Cook until the salt and brown sugar has dissolved and the liquid starts steaming, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, add chicken and brine to a 2-gallon, sealable food-storage plastic bag. Tightly seal the bag and refrigerate at least 8 hours, but no longer than 24 hours.
Meanwhile, combine the rub ingredients and save in a sealable container until needed.
After the chicken has brined, heat the oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Season the chicken on all sides with the rub. Place the chicken on the baking sheet, skin side up, and transfer the baking sheet to the preheated oven. Cook for 50 to 60 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the breast reads 165°F.