Today's recipe for Grilled Sweet Tea Brined Chatham County Chicken with Lavender Butter and Goat Cheese Creamed Spinach is one I've already gushed about. I love chicken; I love sweet tea. Together? They're unstoppable. And now Chef Jimmy Reale of The Carolina Inn's Carolina Crossroads is making it possible to have this at home! This won't go down in history as our simplest recipe but, hey, good things take time, right?
1 Poulet Rouge heritage breed chicken or a 4-lb. whole chicken
1 gallon iced tea
4 cups sugar
4 lemons, quartered
1 ¼ cup Kosher salt
In a pot, bring iced tea, sugar and salt just to simmer; stir occasionally. Remove from heat and stir well to make sure all sugar and salt dissolves. Squeeze all lemons and place in hot brine. Refrigerate until mixture is cold. Remove plastic from chicken and discard liver/neck bone package from cavity. Wash chicken well and place in large container. Cover chicken with brine. Place something heavy on top of chicken so it is submerged in brine. Refrigerate for 18-24 hours. The following day, remove chicken from brine and wash lightly under sink. Tie legs together with butcher twine. Place on rack and cook at 425 degrees to an internal temperature of 140 degree. Remove and let cool completely. Cut chicken off the rib cage. When ready, grill slowly and baste with lavender butter (recipe below) until you reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
1 lb. butter, softened
1 tbsp. lavender flowers
Place soft butter and lavender flowers in food processor. Run for 20-30 seconds until combined. (It will not totally puree.) Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Goat Cheese Creamed Spinach
1 large onion, small dice
¾ lb. bag of spinach, rough chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¾ cup Sherry
2 cups heavy cream
3 oz. goat cheese
Saute onions over medium heat until translucent. Add chopped spinach and wilt. Add garlic and sauté, then deglaze with Sherry. Add heavy cream and bring to simmer. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes. Remove and whisk in goat cheese.