Sunday, July 3, 2011

4th of July Special: Cherry Bomb Chicken – Because There Are No Grape Bombs

I was playing around with a new brine idea for grilled chicken, and decided that since I was using cherry tomatoes and explosive habanero peppers, I'd do a little 4th of July firecracker-themed word play and call this "Cherry Bomb Chicken."

Unfortunately, the sweetest, ripest cherry tomatoes at the market that day were grape tomatoes, which makes the name somewhat dubious. Never one to worry about letting facts get in the way of a good story, I decided to double down.

Now I'm claiming that not only does "cherry" refer to the tomatoes, it also refers to the old phase, "that's cherry," which is how us old folks used to say something was, "the bomb." As far as a technique for ensuring your holiday chicken is ultra-moist and flavorful, this is both "cherry" and "the bomb."

I had a quail dish once in which the birds where marinated in a tomato-water brine, before being grilled. I remembered it was really good, and that's what inspired this relatively odd treatment. Thanks to the magic of brining, this really will almost guarantee a juicy, tasty piece of chicken – and the method allows for countless customizations.

By the way, don't be tempted to leave it in the brine longer; 4-6 hours is ideal. You want the meat brined, not cured. This will also work for pork chops if that's more your thing. I hope you give this a try soon, and that you all have a fantastic 4th of July weekend! Enjoy!

1 quart cold water
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 habanero peppers
1/2 teaspoon allspice
4 cloves garlic
Oil Rub:
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 4 lb. quartered chicken plus wings
2 tbsp red pepper jelly (or sub bbq sauce, or teriyaki sauce)

View the complete recipe


Dano said...

Awesome recipe chef. Can the brine be re-used afterwards? Will it keep?

Marian Parkes said...

Hmmmm. Think I'll use your brine for the chicken I was going to smoke this weekend. Thanks!

Whatever happened to your podcasts? Got a new computer and can't get them any longer.


Rita said...

i was about to look for a chicken recipes from your blog and i saw this. can't pass this one up, so i'm sure to try this out. thanks!


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, Chef John, you crack me up! Cow bells....It's the Canada Day weekend up here north of the border, but I'm going to make this anyhow. Happy 4th! Karen

brian said...

oh yea this is my kind of chicken. i can't wait to try this recipe and kick it up myself!

Corkscrew said...

What's the story with that crazy whisk?

Chef John said...

That's my kinky whisk.

Anonymous said...

Looks great!

Chef John, why do you wipe the chicken dry, and with it all the goodness in the brine? Wouldn't the little water instantly evaporate in the hot flame anyway? Just wondering ...

Pantalone said...


"Crushing the competition ... that's what it's all about ..."

LOL ...

Food Junkie said...

Dano, generally brines should not be reused. Firstly after having been in contact with raw meat the brine may be contaminated with bacteria. Secondly with some brines used for curing you are aiming for a particular specific gravity in the brine. The specific gravity of the brine will change during brining and the flavour will also change. A used brine will not work the same as a fresh one.

philogaia said...

What a coincidence. Just last night I was saying "Cowbell. One can always use more cowbell."

This brine sounds like a winner. And what a great idea using pepper jelly instead of bbq sauce. I have a lovely Portland Farmer's Market one called Peaches and Scream. Fellow denizens of Portlandia who lurk on this blog likely know exactly what I'm talking about.

Odeliaa said...

Happy 4th of July! :-)

Anonymous said...

Red pepper jelly....we don't have that here in Iceland...can you name a brand so I can ask my store to order it ?
Thanks Chef :)

Chef John said...

Sorry don't remember the brand. I'll look next time. Or you can find one on amazon.

Anonymous said...

What can I substitue for allspice? (or can you omit it from recipe?)
Thank you!!
& Love your blog by the way :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks again :)
If this jelly can't be used, what kind of bbq would I use ? (since I don't know that flavor of the jelly....)
Sorry if the question sounds can not know without asking ;)

Chef John said...

Any commercial BBQ sauce will work, but you can look for Kansas city style.

Anonymous said...

Can i use sambal instead of red pepper jelly? And can i use other tomatoes?

Anonymous said...

Can I use the brine on boneless, skinless chicken breast?

Chef John said...

Of course!

Gary Long said...

Best chicken we've ever eaten, does wonders for plain-ole breast!