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Summer is all about that outdoor grill life. And let’s be honest: yes, grilling helps to add great flavor, but it also keeps the heat out of the kitchen! No one wants to turn on that oven when it’s super hot outside!
Whenever I’m in the mood for something barbequed or I’m having friends over, I naturally opt for a whole chicken. This ensures everyone can have a part of what they like, whether it be white or dark meat. Grilling the meat on the bone helps retain so much natural moisture and boosts the flavor. Instead of trying to baste or brush on a marinade, I tend to go for a dry brine because it adds tons of flavor, both on top and under the skin.
What is a dry brine?
Brining is a simple process of combining salt and meat to season the meat and retain moisture. A traditional brine is composed of two things: salt and water. The meat is submerged in the solution and needs to be kept cold during the brining time.
A dry brine, like its name suggests, uses no water, opting instead to directly rub the salt on the meat. It’s much easier to store in the refrigerator and allows a cook the freedom to easily add aromatics to flavor the meat.
This Southwestern-inspired recipe uses intense spices like cumin, chipotle, and Mexican oregano along with the salt for a super flavorful chicken.
Since the inspiration for this chicken was a Southwestern palette, it was only fitting to pair it with a black bean and corn salsa. What’s great about this salsa is that it can easily be eaten with tortilla chips, but it also can be sprinkled on top of the grilled chicken when it’s ready to eat.
Instead of it being a thin salsa (there’s definitely a time and place for that!), this is a chunky salsa packed full of corn, black beans, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño. It’s a bit spicy, but that’s what makes it the perfect pairing for the chicken!
Why spatchcock the chicken?
Spatchcocking simply means removing the backbone from the chicken while flattening it out into an even layer. I love to spatchcock for two reasons:
- It helps the chicken cook more evenly without drying out one part of the meat while undercooking another.
- It reduces the cooking time dramatically so a whole chicken can be cooked in half the time!
Watch how to make this barbecue chicken recipe
Southwestern Barbecue Chicken
For the chicken
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano crushed
- 1 tsp chipotle powder
- ¾ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried garlic granules
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp lime zest
- 3-5 lb chicken spatchcocked
For the salsa
- 1 14.5-oz can black beans drained and rinsed
- 2 cups sweet corn frozen and thawed
- 1 15-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
- ½ cup chopped purple onion
- 2 tsp chipotle powder
- 2 tbsp pickled jalapeño
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp lime zest
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
For the dry brine chicken
- In a small bowl, combine the salt, oregano, chipotle powder, cumin, dried garlic, and baking soda. Add the lime zest and work together with fingers until fragrant.
- Remove the backbone of the chicken by cutting along each side of it with a sharp knife. Flatten chicken out, cracking the breastbone if needed. Separate skin from the meat, working fingers between the layers while being careful not to tear the skin.
- Rub about ¾ of the prepared brine mixture under the skin. Sprinkle the remaining rub over the top of the skin. Cover with plastic wrap and brine in the refrigerator for 2-8 hours.
- When ready to grill, heat the grill to high. If using a gas grill, have one side on high heat and one on medium heat. Grill chicken skin-side down for 15 minutes. Turn over and continue grilling until the meat registers 160°F, 15-20 minutes. Remove and let rest for 15 minutes before cutting.
For the salsa
- In a large bowl, combine the drained and rinsed beans, sweet corn, tomatoes with the juices, onion, chipotle powder, pickled jalapeño, salt, lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning. This can be made 8 hours ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Serve with the chicken and tortilla chips.