11, Jun 2007
Lime-Brined Grilled Chicken

I wanted to make a bunch of chicken to have for leftovers during the week. I’ve been disappointed with leftover chicken from boneless breasts — it always seems to be dry, even if it was moist and juicy when cooked. So I decided to grill some breasts with skin and bone, and brine them in advance. I wanted to try different flavorings (lately I’ve combined the brine with soy, garlic, and spicy peppers), and settled on lime and fish sauce. I also had some wing drumettes handy that I brined and grilled at the same time.

4 chicken breasts, with skin and on-the-bone (about 3 lbs)
1 lb chicken wing drumettes
4 c warm water
1/2 c kosher salt
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c fish sauce
1 c limeade
1 large lime (or 2 normal limes)
grilling baste: 1 large lime, fish sauce, honey, limeade

put the warm water in a large plastic storage container. mix the salt and sugar with the warm water until dissolved. add fish sauce and limeade. halve the lime and squeeze its juice into the marinade, plus grate it for zest. put the chicken breasts and wingettes into the container, seal, and let sit in refrigerator for six hours. when ready to cook, heat grill to medium. mix basting ingredients to a thickish consistency. brush the skin sides of the breasts with the baste and put on grill, skin side down. baste other sides. put wings on grill and baste. close grill top. flip after about 10 minutes, re-baste, then grill until finished, basting again if needed.
the chicken tastes great. the lime is pretty subtle, but some of the fish sauce flavor comes through, though not too much. I used the limeade only because I didn’t think I had limes; next time, I’ll probably use lime juice or just squeeze more limes. the chicken was also a little pale; I might add some soy sauce (cutting the salt some more) for color. more sugar in the baste might also bring on better color. I marinated the chicken for about five hours, and it probably could have used some more time or a bit more salt. next time I’ll try to intensify the lime, and might also add a bunch of serranos to the marinade. on the whole though, I haven’t found flavors to come through a brining very strongly, so I’d probably just work on the baste or a sauce more. I think this chicken would be great with vietnamese-influenced flavors; the hints of lime and fish sauce would go perfectly.