A platter of succulent, barbecued chicken is hard to say no to. Squeeze over juicy grilled limes and pass the napkins. Try the brining technique below if time permits.
1 corn-fed chicken, brined (optional)
1 cup each flat-leaf parsley and basil, stalks and leaves
zest and juice 1 large lime
1 teaspoon each ground cumin, coriander and paprika
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 limes, halved
Using kitchen scissors, cut down both sides of the backbone and discard. Snip the wishbone and lay the chicken skin side up on the bench. Press down hard to crack the breastbone and flatten the chicken. Place in the brine if using this technique (see below).
Paste: Roughly chop the herbs, place with the other ingredients in the food processor and blend to a paste. Season.
Using your fingers, carefully lift the skin away from the breast and thighs and push some of the paste underneath. Rub the rest of the paste all over the chicken. The chicken can be covered and refrigerated 1 day ahead at this point – remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
To cook: Preheat the barbecue to a medium heat and brush with a little vegetable oil. Season the chicken, place skin side down and place another grill plate or heavy, heat-proof sauté pan on top.
Cook for 25 minutes, turning down the heat if the skin starts to catch. You need to hear a low, even sizzle. Turn the chicken over and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer. Transfer to a plate and rest, loosely covered, for 10 minutes. Brush the cut surface of the limes with olive oil and grill on the barbecue until golden and juicy.
To serve: Cut the chicken into serving portions and place on a platter with the limes.
Many barbecue books call for brining meat, especially chicken and pork. This produces succulent, juicy meat and helps keep it moist during cooking. A variety of herbs and spices can be added for flavour, and beer and cider are sometimes used too. Brining is easily achieved with a little forward planning, but make sure the brine is totally cold before immersing the meat.
Put ½ cup of salt, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 bay leaves and 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Cool. Put the chicken in a container large enough that
it can be submerged in brine. Pour in the brine, adding enough cold water to totally cover the chicken. Put a plate on top to keep it under the brine. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to 12 hours. Drain well and pat dry before proceeding with the recipe from the paste stage.