Even though we live in Florida, it feels like we’ve had the longest month of cold, foggy, and wet weather. In need of some serious sunshine vibes, we decided to make citrus brined grilled chicken.
For our citrus brine recipe we used a combination of orange, lemon, and lime. Citrus fruits are actually their sweetest and juiciest in the winter. Navel oranges, for example, are harvested where we live from October through February. When you buy citrus fruit out of season, it’s likely been flown or shipped from some other place.
Why and How to Brine Meat
In my Anatomy and Physiology course my professor taught us all about osmosis, and I specifically remember these two words: “water” and “movement”. That’s basically how brining works. When you place chicken in a tub of salty, flavor-infused liquid, the solution will travel into the meat in order to equalize the salt levels. That leaves you with juicy, tender meat.
The basics of brining:
- 1/2 to 1 cup of salt, to 1 gallon of water;
- add your choice of peppercorn, garlic, citrus, etc
- leave your meat in its brine for roughly one hour per pound;
- always brine in the fridge;
- make sure none of your meat is exposed to air;
- if your meat has skin on it, pat it dry a before cooking.
After removing the chicken from the brine water, we simply pat the meat dry and season it generously under and top of the skin with a homemade Cajun spice rub, a mix of salt, turbinado, white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, and cayenne. We let it sit for about an hour before grilling, and used WESTERN Premium BBQ wood chunks on our charcoal grill for that authentic smoked BBQ flavor.
This is hands down one of our favorite grilled chicken recipes. We hope you enjoy it!
Citrus Brined Grilled Chicken
Yield 10 servings
- 5 pounds chicken leg quarters
Citrus Chicken Brine
- 4 quarts water
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup raw sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 4 oranges, halved
- 2 limes, halved
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
Chicken Spice Rub
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons raw sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground white pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning
Heat water, salt, sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce sauce, and soy sauce in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a rapid boil until the salt and sugar is fully dissolved. Remove pot from heat and set aside until water has reached room temperature.
Place chicken in a 6-quart sealable container. Juice the oranges, limes, and lemon over meat, and toss in the rinds. Add onion and garlic, and pour brine water over meat so that the chicken is fully submerged. Cover and place in a fridge for 5 hours.
After brining, remove the chicken from the water and transfer to a strainer. Discard the brine water, fruit, and vegetables. Pat chicken dry and transfer to a dry, clean workspace. Generously season chicken with Chicken Spice Rub, both under the skin and on top of the skin.
Preheat an outdoor grill or large grill pan to medium high.
Grill, covered, for 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken has a nice char. Flip and grill another 10-15 minutes. Flip once more and grill until cooked through and the chicken registers 160 degrees F on a thermometer. Let rest 10 minutes.
Serve the chicken with lemon and fresh herbs. Enjoy!