Nothing says Texas like BBQ. I grew up watching my father grill night after night, grilling steaks, chicken and briskets. He taught me how to light a perfect fire, using the exact amount of charcoal and mesquite, each time perfecting the art of grilling. Now that I cook for a living, I adhere to what he taught me and pass along such advice to my husband. To him, I have no idea what I'm talking about as the grill is God's gift to men and men only. For 2 steaks or one whole chicken, he'll go through a 30 pound bag of charcoal, cooking the meat so much that the bones become brittle. He has learned to cook better in our 18 years together, using my recipes and techniques, and has still managed to make me chuckle over the carbon monoxide amounts that hover over our home to almost set off the indoor detectors. Although he claims the grill is his "retreat", I have no doubt he'd claim the following recipe as the best chicken he's ever eaten. All by the hands of a woman.
Serve with a romaine salad and some Dallas Farmers Market summer corn and you're good to go.
1 gallon water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Three 3 1/2-pound chickens
10 pounds hardwood lump charcoal
9 garlic cloves—6 smashed, 3 minced
1 bunch scallions, coarsely chopped
1 fennel bulb, finely diced
1 jalapeño, finely diced
1 dried ancho chile—stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
In a pot, combine the water with the salt and sugar and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the salt and sugar dissolve. Let the brine cool to room temperature.
Set three large oven-roasting bags in a large roasting pan. Put a chicken in each bag and pour one-third of the brine in each. Tie the bags and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Set up a grill for indirect grilling: Light 5 pounds of the charcoal on one side of the grill and hang a grilling or oven thermometer on the opposite side of the grill.
Remove the chickens from the brine and pat dry. In a bowl, combine the smashed garlic, scallions, fennel, jalapeño and ancho. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the Wild Game Rub (recipe below) and stuff into the chicken cavities. Tie the legs together with string. Rub the outside of the chickens with the minced garlic and 1/2 cup of the Wild Game Rub.
Set the chickens breast side down on the grill opposite the coals. Cover and cook at 325° to 350° for 1 hour. Add the remaining 5 pounds of charcoal to the grill as needed to maintain the temperature. Turn the chickens, cover and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thighs registers 160°, about 1 hour and 30 minutes longer. Transfer the chickens to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve the chickens and serve.
Tim Love's Wild Game Rub
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup pure chile powder, such as guajillo or ancho
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
Mix all of the ingredients in a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.