A great recipe for the BBQ, everyone goes nuts for these chicken lollipops, especially the kids. Give it a go and see what your little Flintstones think. I know mine go daft for them!
As always you don’t have to use a BBQ, a regular oven will do fine (raises her eyebrows).
Now there are conflicting schools of thought regarding brining meat. Some say it adds nothing, but I disagree. The flavours of the brine used in this recipe really penetrate the meat and make it incredibly moist. It may sound complicated but I assure you it’s not. And it’s done in advance, which means you don’t have that much to do when it comes to cooking.
12 chicken legs, skin on
1 tbsp olive oil
For the brine…..
1 small onion, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and bashed with the flat of a knife
3 sprigs of rosemary
5 or 6 fresh bay leaves
A small bunch of thyme
1 lemon, thinly sliced
3 tbsp sea salt
3 tbsp sugar
1 litre water
For the poultry seasoning….
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp ground black pepper
For the ginger syrup….
You can use a couple of tablespoons of syrup from a jar of stem ginger. However if you make this quite regularly like me, a simple sugar syrup made with 3 tbsp of soft brown sugar, 3 tbsp water and a couple of pieces of stem ginger (in syrup) grated into it, and heated through to dissolve the sugar, works just as well. The syrup adds a fragrant hint of gingery sweetness that works so well with all the other flavours.
Make up the brine by placing everything in a saucepan and bring to the boil for a few seconds. Turn off the heat, cover and allow to cool completely.
Now, if like me, you always leave this bit ’till the last minute, and you need to hurry the cooling a bit, use 500ml of water to begin with, bring everything to the boil and remove from the heat. Then fill a measuring jug with ice up to the 500ml mark and top up with water. This will give you half a litre of ice water which you can add to the other half of the brine mix and it should help speed things up a bit.
To ‘lollipop’ the chicken, you need to remove the top inch or so of skin from the bone end of the chicken leg by running a very sharp knife right the way around the bone. This will slice through the skin and tendons allowing you to push it up and off the end of the bone.
You can also make an incision with your knife and use a pair of scissors to cut the skin if you feel this would be easier. I use a piece of paper towel to get a good grip of the skin and top knuckle and then twist it up and over, leaving you with a nice clean bone. You also need to trim the meaty end of the leg in order to help it sit up on the grill with the bone pointing upwards. The legs cook much nicer like this (see below).
Place the trimmed legs in the cold brine and leave in the fridge overnight if possible.
Once the chicken has had a chance to brine remove from the liquid, pat dry with paper towel and sit them up on a plate. Let them dry out for a bit in the fridge. A few hours if possible.
Make up the poultry seasoning by combining all the ingredients in a bowl. Make sure it’s well mixed.
If you’re using the BBQ you’ll be cooking indirect over a low to medium heat (approx 300-350˚f). Otherwise preheat your oven to 325˚f/160˚c.
Rub each chicken leg with a little of the olive oil and sprinkle the poultry seasoning genourously over each one. Allow the chicken to come up to room temperature before cooking. An hour out of the fridge should do it. I covered the bones in foil, but you don’t have to. They just turn out a bit more photogenic if you do.
For oven cooking, sit the chicken legs on a wire rack over a baking tray. If you don’t have a wire rack, not to worry.
If using a BBQ, preheat your grill. At point I add a small chunk of smoking wood. I used silver birch with this recipe but it’s also nice with apple and pear. I stick to the subtler woods so as not to drown out all the other lovely flavours used in the recipe. Seriously….this is why you need to use your BBQ for this!
Cook for 45 minutes (lid on if using the BBQ) and then paint the ginger syrup over each leg with a basting brush or similar. Cook for a further 15 minutes to set the glaze.
The amount of brine used in this recipe can easily accommodate more chicken if you wanted to double the amount. I always find I never make enough of these, they’re so popular. Great cold the next day too!