Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Smoked Lemon-Chicken

Chicken and lemon make a natural flavor combination. Slowly smoking the lemon-stuffed bird locks in juicy tenderness, as well as that succulent smoked taste.

Here, I made use of the entire lemon—zest, juice, and slices—for maximum bright, citrusy flavor. 

Note: When zesting the lemon, peel only the outer yellow layer and leave the white pith intact. Use a vegetable peeler to remove thin strips a little at a time.

For tips on setting up your charcoal grill to use as a smoker, check out Smoked Baby-Back Ribs.

Serves 4

  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3-lb chicken
  • 2 12-oz beers (or other smoking liquid, such as water or apple juice), plus more liquid as needed
  • assorted fresh herb sprigs for the smoking liquid (such as basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, and cilantro), plus chopped herbs for garnish
  1. Remove the zest from half the lemon. Finely chop the zest and garlic together and place in a small bowl.
  2. Cut off 1/4 of the lemon and squeeze the juice into the bowl with the zest mixture.
  3. Cut the remainder of the lemon into thin slices.
  4. Add the olive oil to the zest mixture and season with salt and pepper. Whisk well to combine. Reserve 3 teaspoons of the basting sauce for the marinade.
Chopped Lemon Zest and Garlic 
Basting Sauce and Marinade
  1. Lay the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board. Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut along each side of the backbone and remove it. Cut through the breastbone to halve the bird.
  2. Loosen the skin all over the chicken halves and rub the reserved marinade beneath it. Divide the lemon slices and stuff as many as fit in a single layer beneath the skin of the breast, thigh, and leg.
  3. Pull the skin down as tightly as you can and place chicken on a large plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2-3 hours.
Chicken Ready to Marinate
  1. Prepare a smoker or grill for off-heat cooking at medium-low heat, about 300° F. If you’re using a charcoal grill, it’s okay for the temperature to fluctuate between 300° and 250° F as the coals cool.
  2. When the smoker/grill is ready, place the herb sprigs in a heatproof pan and pour in the beer or other liquid. Check the liquid throughout the cooking process and add more as it evaporates.
  3. Smoke the chicken, turning every 15-20 minutes, for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, depending on size.
  4. Baste the chicken with the zest mixture during the final 20 minutes of smoking.
Chicken after the First 20 Minutes 
Chicken after Basting
  1. Transfer to a large cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. Remove the lemon slices and carve the chicken into 4 servings (breast/wing, drumstick/thigh).
Smoked Chicken Resting
Scatter chopped fresh herbs on top and serve hot or at room temperature. 

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