This entry marks the beginning of this year’s grilling season for us. We started with this recipe from Adam Perry Lang in his book, Serious Barbecue, page 252. Lang holds that the chef should try to add flavor at each step in the cooking process, so his recipes are somewhat complicated, though not difficult.
However, the results are worth the effort. If you have ever suffered through a dinner of dry, tasteless, rubbery chicken breasts, this recipe is the cure! We used low-sodium soy sauce (the dish was salty enough), and you can use kosher salt for fleur de sel and regular sesame seeds for the black variety.
6 cups water
3 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1½ tsp Japanese soy sauce
3 thyme sprigs
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 serrano or other small hot chile, grated on a Microplane grater, stopping before the seeds
8 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tender removed and trimmed of any excess fat, 7 to 8 ounces each
½ cup BBQ sauce
½ cup water
½ cup pineapple preserves
¼ cup apricot preserves
¼ cup honey
1 Tbsp Japanese soy sauce
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, peeled, halved, germ removed, and grated on a Microplane grater
¼ cup chopped scallions, white and green portions
3 Tbsp black sesame seeds
1 Tbsp finely ground fresh black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
fleur de sel
- In a large bowl, combine all of the brine ingredients, whisking to dissolve the salt and sugar. Place the chicken in an extra-large resealable plastic bag (or divide between two large bags). Pour over the brine, squeeze out any excess air from the bag, and close. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 6 hours.
- Preheat one grate of a well-oiled charcoal or gas grill to medium-high, leaving another off for indirect cooking.
- Place the water, BBQ sauce, both preserves, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, 2 Tbsp of the scallions, and 1 Tbsp of the sesame seeds in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to combine. Pour into a disposable aluminum pan, preferably a 13½ X 9⅝ X 2¾-inch lasagna pan.
- Remove the breasts from the brine and lightly pat dry with paper towels. Season the breasts on both sides with the pepper, and using your hands or a brush, evenly, but lightly, coat with canola oil.
- Place the chicken breasts, presentation side (rounded, top side of the breast) down, on the medium-high grate, keeping the lid open, and do not move the breasts until they are well marked and have a light char, about 4 minutes. Flip, and keeping the lid open, repeat on the second side, grilling for about 4 minutes. Return to the presentation side and grill for 4 minutes. The, flip a final time and grill for 4 minutes, for a total of 16 minutes of grilling.
- Dredge each of the breasts in the glaze, coating on all sides. Place, presentation side up, on the indirect area of the grate, close the lid, and cook for 8 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken breasts to a serving platter and top with the remaining 2 Tbsp of the scallions and remaining 2 Tbsp of the sesame seeds. Sprinkle with fleur de sel. Serves 8.