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Ultimate Summer Chicken Recipe w/ Pairings!

by Gabriel Rosenthal, Amanti Food Pro

Everyone loves getting a good food & wine pairing at a local restaurant, but why rely on a chef and sommelier? You can make excellent food at home and pair it with incredible wine; not only is it a fun way to entertain, it's also significantly less expensive than dining out every night of the week. This recipe is a secret weapon of mine: simple, delicious, & low-maintenance. Brining the chicken will prevent moisture loss during cooking and allows seasoning to penetrate more deeply into the meat. While you can add various seasonings to the brine itself, they will not affect the flavor of the bird too greatly. The best way to accomplish this is to season after the bird has rested and the juices displaced during cooking have been reabsorbed by the meat. 


It's the perfect choice for a low-key dinner party, family meal, or even to cook ahead of time and end up with leftovers for the rest of the week. Plus, it features versatile, wine-friendly flavors that will work well with many styles: white, red, or even orange! (Check out some of our staff picks below.) 

Brined & Grilled Chicken with Orzo Salad
For the Brine: 
2 qts water 
1/2 cup table salt 
For the Salad: 
One box dried orzo pasta 
4 whole scallions (sliced thinly)
10oz feta cheese (crumbled)
12oz cherry tomatoes (sliced in halves)
1 whole lemon (zest and juice)
Olive oil

For the chicken:
One whole chicken (3-8 pounds)
Parsley (roughly chopped)
Red chili flake (optional)

1) The first step is to remove the backbone from your chicken; this will make grilling it a total breeze by exposing each part of the bird to even heat. Place the chicken on a cutting board breast side down, with the legs and the cavity facing you. Using a pair of poultry shears make a cut along the side of the backbone as straight as you can. You will know you're cutting along the correct angle when you can feel your poultry shears cutting through the rib cage of the chicken. Repeat this on the other side of the backbone. Save the backbone for making chicken stock. 

2) In a container large enough to fit your whole chicken, combine the two quarts water with a half cup of table salt. Stir until salt is completely dissolved. Submerge chicken in the brine and let rest for one hour. 

3) While the chicken is brining, in a large saucepan bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and half of the lemon zest cook until orzo is tender but still toothsome. Strain the orzo and let cool. 

4) Once the orzo is cool enough to touch and all the excess water has drained off, transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Stir in the sliced scallions, crumbled feta, sliced tomatoes, remaining lemon zest, and all of the lemon juice. Add a generous glug of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set the salad aside; you can serve it cold or room temperature. 

5) Now that the chicken has brined for one hour, remove it from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Do not skip this step: it is extremely important that you dry off your chicken otherwise it won't cook evenly and the skin won't crisp properly!

6) Preheat your grill to 400 degrees fahrenheit, if you cook the chicken between 350-400 degrees it will not burn, and the skin will crisp up as the meat cooks. 

7) Oil the grill grates, lightly (very lightly) salt the chicken, and place it skin side up, I would not recommend flipping the chicken until at least halfway through cooking. You know the chicken is done because the legs will feel quite loose but still connected to the joint or when the breasts register 165 degrees on a temperature probe.  

8) Allow the bird to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing, seasoning with lemon juice, parsley, and chili flake. Do not rest the chicken under foil as this will ruin the crispy skin you've worked so hard for. 


9) Open the perfect bottle of wine (see below), and enjoy! 

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