Salt-brined chicken with drunken beans

by Celia Harvey | Cuisine issue #156
Serves: 4Salt-brining makes the meat melt-in-the-mouth tender. Ideally begin the day before, to allow time for brining.

For the brine
1 cup rock salt
1⁄4 cup sugar
3 sprigs thyme
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 x size 14-16 chicken

Add the salt, sugar, thyme, garlic cloves and pepper to 4 litres boiling water. Stir to combine and dissolve the salt and sugar then set aside to cool completely. Refrigerate until cold then add the chicken, breast side down, weighing it down with a plate to fully submerge it. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

If using a charcoal barbecue, light the barbecue and wait 30 minutes for the flames to die down to a low heat. If using a gas barbecue, turn it on to low heat. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with kitchen paper. Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut down either side of the backbone then open the chicken out flat. Trim off the excess neck fat and trim and discard the tail point.

Grill the chicken uncovered, flesh side down, for 10-12 minutes, then turn and cook for a further 20-30 minutes until cooked through. Serve with the drunken beans.

Drunken beans
2 cups white beans or borlotti beans, soaked in cold water overnight (or
400g can beans, drained and rinsed)
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons tomato paste
330ml dark beer (I used Coopers Dark Ale)
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground

If using dried beans, drain and put in a large saucepan (if using canned beans, just add them with the canned tomatoes). Add the bay leaf and herbs then cover with plenty of water. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until just tender – the beans will continue to cook in the sauce. Drain the beans.

Heat the oil in a saucepan then fry the garlic and onion for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the tomato paste and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring. Add the beer and let it bubble up, while scraping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer for a few minutes then return the beans to the pan, with the tomatoes and cumin.

Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes or until the beans are fully tender and the liquid has reduced. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then serve.

Wine - A dry-style chenin blanc.

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