Bourbon-Brined Chicken

(from saymyname’s recipe box)

Source: Steven Raichlen

Serves 4 people

Categories: Bourbon, Chicken, Grill, Main Dish


  • Brine:
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 slices lemons (1/4 inch thick)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and gently crushed
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed
  • Chicken:
  • 4 (6 -8 ounce) boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • barbecue sauce (use your favorite)
  • Other:
  • 2 cups wood chips, soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained (preferably hickory or oak)


  1. To make the brine: in a large nonreactive bowl combine the bourbon, salt, brown sugar, lemon slices, garlic, peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, and 4 cups water; whisk until salt and brown sugar dissolve.

  2. Trim any sinews or excess fat off the breasts; rinse breasts under cold running water, then drain.

  3. Place the chicken breasts in a large zip-lock plastic bag; add in the brine. 4 Let breasts brine in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours, turning breasts twice so they brine evenly. Set up grill for direct grilling and preheat to high-if using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run grill on high until you see smoke; if using a charcoal grill, preheat it to high, then toss all of the wood chips on the coals.

  4. When ready to grill, drain the brine off the chicken and blot the breasts dry with paper towels; discard brine.

  5. Lightly brush both sides of the breasts with the melted butter; brush and oil the grill grate, then arrange chicken breasts on the hot grate, placing them on a diagonal to the bars.

  6. Grill the breasts for 2 minutes, then rotate them a quarter turn to create an attractive crosshatch of grill marks.

  7. Continue grilling the breasts on that side for 2 minutes longer.

  8. Turn breasts over and grill until cooked through, 4-6 minutes longer, again rotating them after 2 minutes to create grill marks. **The total cooking time will be 8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breasts.

  9. Test for doneness-poke a breast in the thickest part with your finger; it should feel firm to the touch; or to be safe, you can insert a thermometer in one end-170° is done.

  10. Transfer grilled breasts to a platter and serve at once with your favorite barbecue sauce.

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