I might go as far as to say that this is one of the best chickens that I have ever made. And that's saying a lot because I love to roast chickens. The brine thing might seem superfluous but it is actually transformative. Does it take a little planning? I guess. You need to know that you are having chicken tomorrow. And you will need to have a beer in the house. Nothing you can't handle, I'm sure. The chili rub takes a little bit of effort but it is most likely a one-stop shop. If you haven't worked with dried peppers before, please allow me to introduce you. It's a world of great taste and wonder with a very low cost of entry. Chili peppers add all sorts of really interesting, deep but subtle flavors with notes of tobacco and almonds (cascabels) or of smoke and plums (guajillos). Anchos are the workhorses of the pepper kingdom, packing all of the "chili" flavor you'd expect without any aggressive spice. Please experiment with your own combinations. You kind of can't go wrong.
This recipe makes more paste than you will need for the chicken so you will have extra to stir into soups, chilies, sauces or try adding a spoonful to your burger mixture or use as a rub on pork.
I made this chicken simply for tacos (corn tortillas, shredded cabbage, radishes, lime) but next time I plan on pairing it with blue corn polenta and a salad with shaved manchego and pomegranate seeds.
beer brined roasted chicken with chili rub
1 roasting chicken, about 3-4 lbs
for the brine:
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c kosher salt
3 T chili powder
for the chili paste:
1 ancho pepper
4 de arbol
1 yellow onion, divided
4 cloves of garlic
1 t cumin
1 t salt
2 T olive oil
Combine the ingredients for the brine. Put the chicken in a zip lock bag, pour over the brine and soak overnight, breast side down.
Remove the seeds and the stems from the chilies and discard. Yes, some seeds will escape but a little spice never killed anyone.
In a medium hot skillet, toast the chilies, turning once until fragrant. (WARNING: this will make your eyes water, nose run and you will cough-just open a window and run a fan 'cause it's all worth it) Place the toasted chilies in a glass bowl and cover with 1.5 cups of boiling water. Let them soak for about 10-15 minutes until they have softened but never beyond 20 minutes as they will turn bitter.
Puree the chilies, 1/2 of the onion, garlic, cumin salt and about 1 cup of the soaking liquid (reserving the remaining liquid) together until smooth.
Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Snip the central membrane (holding the skin to the breast bone) with kitchen shears. Gently loosen the skin around the breast and the legs, making room for the chili paste. Carefully spoon in some of the paste and rub into the flesh of the breast and legs, taking care not to double-dip the spoon into the paste once it has touched the raw chicken.
Tie your chicken up with some twine and place in a roasting pan with the remaining half of onion and soaking liquid. Combine a few tablespoons of the paste with the olive oil and rub on the chicken skin.
Roast until done, about 1.5 hours, when the it reaches about 170º. Let rest for about 10 minutes before carving. Reserve the pan juices for serving.