Rotisserie Chicken, Dry Brined with Rosemary, Lemon, and Garlic


In my interview with Dishin' in the Kitchen, I was asked about my favorite meal. The answer? I didn't hesitate - Rotisserie Chicken. I love a lot of foods, but this one is my clear favorite. I make it once a month, to feed my chicken cravings.*
*OK, maybe every other month in the winter, when I'm forced to roast my chicken indoors.

Even though it is my favorite meal, I still want some variety in my rotisserie chicken. I am always trying out different brines, rubs and marinades. Today I'm sharing a fancier version of dry brined chicken. Fresh rosemary and lemon zest up the flavor of the dry brine, and give the chicken an Italian flavor profile that matches well with a side of pasta and some quick-sauteed chard in olive oil.

And...don't have a rotisserie? That's OK - dry brine the chicken as instructed, and use the split chicken method I link to in my notes. Or, use your favorite oven roasting technique. This dry brine is too good to pass up.

Recipe: Rotisserie Chicken, Dry Brined with Rosemary, Lemon, and Garlic

Adapted from: Russ Parsons: The California Cook: A more flavorful dry brined turkey [latimes.com]

Cook time: 60 minutes

Equipment:
  • Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I used a Weber Summit with an infrared rotisserie burner. Here is the current version of my grill. )
  • Aluminum foil drip pan (9"x11", or whatever fits your grill)
  • Butcher's twine for trussing the chicken

Ingredients:
  • Two whole chickens, 3.5lbs to 4.5 lbs
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt per pound of chicken (about 2 teaspoons per chicken)
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary per chicken (2 tsp total)
  • zest of 1/2 lemon per chicken (zest of 1 lemon total)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced, per chicken (2 cloves total)
  • 1/2 lemon per chicken (1 whole lemon - use the one that was zested)

Instructions:
See my Basic Technique: Rotisserie Poultry for more details.

1. Dry brine the chicken: Make the dry brine by putting the the salt, rosemary, garlic, and lemon zest in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, and grinding until it is a fine powder. Sprinkle a two-finger pinch of the dry brine (about 1/4 tsp) in the cavity of the bird. Next, I loosen the skin from the breast meat by gently running a finger under the skin of each breast. I rub 1/4 tsp of the dry brine on the meat of the breast, working it under the skin. Then I sprinkle the outside of the chicken with the rest of the brine, using about 1/2 tsp per "side". I start with the breast, then I turn the chicken to one side (with the leg and wing facing up), then flip and do the other side.  Finally, I salt the bottom (backbone) side of the chicken. Put 1/2 lemon in the cavity of the chicken. Repeat with the second chicken, then refrigerate overnight, or up to 3 days. If you are salting more than a day in advance, cover the chicken with plastic wrap, and remove the wrap the night before cooking to let the chicken skin air dry in the refrigerator.

2. Truss and skewer the chicken: One hour before cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Fold the wingtips back under the chicken, then truss the chicken tightly. (Again, see the basic technique for trussing details). Skewer the chicken on the spit - get it on there tight! I like to put one set of prongs under the breast of the first chicken, then the other skewer through the thighs. Then, I put the second bird on upside down compared to the first bird. This makes the whole spit more balanced, which eases the load on the rotisserie motor. Also, it looks cool that way.*
*Yes, I'm a cooking nerd.

3. Prepare the grill: Set the grill up for rotisserie cooking at high heat. For my Weber Summit, this means removing the grates, turning the two outer burners (burners 1 and 6) to high, and turning the infrared burner to high. Then I put my drip pan in the middle, over the unlit burners, and let the grill preheat for ten to fifteen minutes. (See here for more rotisserie setup details.)

Chicken with
sweet potatoes
Not letting a little rain
slow me down
4. Cook the chicken: Put the spit on the grill, turn on the rotisserie motor, and cook with the lid closed.  The cooking time will be from 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on the size of the bird. A 4 lb bird will be done in about an hour. The best way to tell if the chicken is done is to check the temperature in the thickest part of the breast meat. You want that temperature to be 160*F to 165*F, but no higher.*I start checking the temperature at the 45 minute mark, and check it every 10 to 15 minutes after that.

5. Serve: Remove the spit from the grill, remove the chicken from the spit, and remove the trussing string from the chicken. Let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes, then carve and serve.

Notes:
*Drip pan potatoes are a great accompaniment to this recipe. Or, try some drip pan sweet potatoes - that recipe is coming on Thursday.



*I...um...I forgot the garlic when I cooked the recipe above.  It was still delicious, so the garlic is optional...

Related Recipes:
Don't have a rotisserie? Try my butterflied chicken recipe instead.
Rotisserie Chicken, dry brined (and cooked on a Weber charcoal kettle)
Rotisserie Drip Pan Sweet Potatoes (coming Thursday)
Click here for my other rotisserie recipes.

Special Thanks:
Thank you to Jeff and Melanie at Brunty Farms for the chicken.

Adapted From:
Russ Parsons: The California Cook: A more flavorful dry brined turkey [latimes.com]


Check out my cookbook, Rotisserie Grilling.

Everything you could ask about the rotisserie,
plus 50 (mostly) new recipes to get you cooking.

It's a Kindle e-book, so you can download it and start reading immediately!


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9 comments:

Mike said...

You list smoking wood within the ingredients, but I do not see where you reference using wood in the instructions. Do you actually use the wood in your weber for this recipe? Thank you.

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Mike:

Argh! You're right, I didn't use the smoking wood. For this recipe, I don't use it. I removed it from the recipe.

If you wanted to use it, though, I would cook with charcoal instead of a gas grill like I do in this recipe. Toss the wood chunk on the coals right before starting the chicken on the rotisserie. It will add a nice, smoky flavor to the bird.

Mike said...

Mike V - This is a great technique with fabulous results. The family thought that this was the best chicken we have made at home. I am fortunate to have the same Weber with rotisserie and have rarely used it! That will change. I was wondering if this would be worth all of the work, when every good market has a decent rotisserie chicken? It definitely is and the market option offers no comparison.

I am looking forward to trying some of your other rotisserie ideas.

Thank you once again.

Mike B

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Mike B:

You're welcome! I'm glad I came out on top over the supermarket rotisserie chicken. They always smell so good, but they pale in comparison to a home-roasted bird.

TVisconti said...

How would this turn out "beer-can" style with indirect heat or smoked with a side firebox? Sorry, bit I have no rotisserie as of yet.

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@TVisconti:

This recipe works fine with either approach. It is great Beer Can style with indirect heat; I do it that way from time to time.

For the offset smoker, it works, and I know beer can chicken came from the barbecue circuit, where offset smokers rule, but..

I prefer the crispier skin you get with indirect heat versus offset smoker style. The skin never really gets as crispy as I want it with the low-n-slow offset barbecue method. But, that's more of a style preference - if you like that style of bird, then this recipe works fine with it.

Mike said...

I used your recipe for dry brine on my turkey breast for Thanksgiving and let me tell you that that was the best turkey I have ever had. I want to try it with chicken but I have a question first or two first. I have a chicken that is package with 12% chicken broth. Should I cut back on the salt? I have Morton Kosher salt, should I cut back on that as well? You recommended that if you were not using the same salt you normally use.


Thanks
Mike

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

First the type of salt question:

Morton's Kosher weighs more than Diamond Crystal, which is what I use. I use a tablespoon of Diamond Crystal on a 4 pound chicken; I would use 2 teaspoons of Morton's,

Check out my Salt by Weight post for the nitty gritty details: http://www.dadcooksdinner.com/2012/02/salt-by-weight.html

The 12% broth is more worrying. That probably means it's pre-brined. I would cut back to a teaspoon of Mortons for the dry brine.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

Mike said...

Thanks. I'll let you know.

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