Picnic Chicken and BBQ Pit Beans

Jody Horton

Smoked chicken, served warm or cold, alongside sweet barbecue pit beans and the melon salad, is refreshing for any picnic, in your backyard or at the beach.

Ingredients

Poultry Brine:

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt 
  • 2 tablespoons medium brown miso paste 
  • 7 tablespoons sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic 
  • Zest and juice of 3 lemons 
  • 1 bunch fresh sage 
  • 3 1/2 cups ice cubes 

Chicken:

  • 1 (3 1/2-pound) fresh whole chicken 
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • Kosher salt to taste 
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste 
  • 3 tablespoons White Poultry Chicken Soup Spice (see below)
  • 1 (12-ounce) can beer 

BBQ Pit Beans:

  • 1 1/2 cup pinto beans, rinsed and soaked overnight, drained 
  • 1 cup Tomato and Molasses Barbecue Sauce  (see below)
  • 2 tablespoons molasses 
  • 1 tablespoon BBQ Beef Coffee Cure (see below) 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 3/4 cup corn kernels, cut from the cob 

Procedure

To make the brine, combine the salt, miso paste, sugar, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and sage in a large stockpot with 12 cups water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, remove the pot from the heat and add the ice to chill the brine. Do not remove the sage and lemon zest.

Once the brine has chilled, submerge the whole chicken in the pot, cover tightly, and refrigerate for 1 day.

When you are ready to cook the chicken, prepare a grill for hot smoking at 225°F. Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat it dry with paper towels. Rub it with the oil and sprinkle it, inside and out, with salt, pepper, and the White Poultry Chicken Soup Spice. Open the can of beer and pour out (or drink) half the can. Place the half-full can on a solid surface and pop the chicken on top, gently pushing the can inside the cavity. Place the canned chicken upright on the grill over indirect heat (not directly over flame or coals). Lower the grill lid and allow the chicken to smoke for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the bird is 165°F. Remove the chicken from the grill and allow it to rest for 10 minutes at room temperature before carving.

To make the barbecue pit beans, in a large ovensafe pot, cover the beans with water and slowly simmer them over low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are just beginning to soften, stirring occasionally to ensure that the bottom of the pot does not burn. Add more water as needed so the beans do not burn. Drain the beans and stir in the tomato and molasses barbecue sauce, molasses, BBQ Beef Coffee Cure, salt, corn, and 1/4 cup water. The beans can be kept warm on the grill while the chicken cooks, hence the the name "pit beans."

Serve the chicken with the beans. 

White Poultry Chicken Soup Spice

Yields 3 3/4 cups

The ingredients of this spice mimic the comfort-food flavor and aroma of chicken soup: celery, cumin, onions, marjoram, and bay leaves. It is great to use on grilled chicken or to add to a stock for a quick-and- easy, intense chicken stock flavor. Tip: Toasting the seeds helps to release the oil and enhances their flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds 
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds 
  • 1/4 cup celery seeds 
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds 
  • 1/4 cup whole white peppercorns 
  • 1/4 cup granulated onion 
  • 3 tablespoons turmeric 
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 cup dried marjoram 
  • 1/4 cup dried rosemary 
  • 10 dried bay leaves 

Procedure

In a dry medium skillet over high heat, toast the cumin, coriander, celery seeds, mustard seeds, and white peppercorns for 5 minutes, or until they are fragrant and start to pop. Transfer the toasted seeds and peppercorns to a clean bowl and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the granulated onion, turmeric, salt, and sugar and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the marjoram, rosemary, and bay leaves. Grind this mixture in a clean coffee or spice grinder to a medium-fine coarseness. Add these ground spices to the onion- turmeric mixture and set aside.

When the toasted seeds and peppercorns have cooled completely, grind them to a medium-fine coarseness. Add these to the bowl of spices and rub the mixture between your palms to break up any lumps and completely incorporate all the ingredients. As an alternative, you can pulse in a food processor.

Do not refrigerate. Store in a tightly sealed container, in a cool, dry place, such as your cupboard.

Tomato and Molasses Barbecue Sauce

Yields 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ketchup 
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes 
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste 
  • 1 1/3 cups distilled white vinegar 
  • 5 tablespoons Dijon mustard 
  • 4 teaspoons granulated garlic 
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt 
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, crushed 
  • 1/2 pound brown sugar 
  • 2/3 cup molasses 

Procedure

Combine the ketchup, tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, mustard, granulated garlic, salt, pepper, and brown sugar with 1 1/3 cups water in a large stockpot over medium heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring, until the sauce thickens slightly. Whisk in the molasses last (it will burn if added too early) and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Season to taste.

BBQ Beef Coffee Cure

Yields 2 1/2 cups

I encourage rolling up your sleeves and using your hands to mix these spices--it helps to capture a feeling of nostalgia for cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup finely ground dark roast coffee 
  • 1/3 cup dark chili powder 
  • 1/3 cup smoked paprika 
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt 
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

Procedure

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl, using your hands to break up any clumps.

Do not refrigerate. Store in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place, such as your cupboard. 

From Smoke: New Firewood Cooking by Tim Byres (Rizzoli 2013).

Yield: 
Serves 4

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