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Andi Oliver’s Tea-brined Spiced Barbecue Chicken

This zesty barbecue chicken recipe from Andi Oliver is one to make all summer long. By brining the meat, you'll not only pack it with flavour but help to tenderise it too.

From the book


There’s a lot of brining chat these days isn’t there? To brine or not to brine, that is the question. I would say I’m firmly on the side of brine. It means you start to pack in the flavour early on and it really does bring a succulence to the meat. This recipe uses an Earl Grey tea brine, which holds the citrus flavour of bergamot at its heart. Combine that with the lemon zest in the barbecue spice rub, and it brings that extra bit of something special to a barbecue.

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6 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
6 chicken drumsticks, skin on and bone in
1 lemon, halved
For the brine:
3 Earl Grey tea bags
peeled skin from 2 clementines
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
2½ tsp sugar of your choice
1¾ tbsp table salt
1 litre (4⅓ cups) boiling water
For the seasoning paste:
6 spring onions (scallions), roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1½ tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the final glaze:
1 tbsp tamarind concentrate
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp sugar of your choice
100ml (generous ⅓ cup) chicken stock

Essential kit

You will need: a food processor and a charcoal or gas barbecue (grill).


Prep time: 20 minutes, plus brining time. Cook time: 30–40 minutes.

First, make your tea brine. Put the Earl Grey tea bags, clementine peel, thyme, sugar, and salt in a pot that is large enough to hold your chicken. Cover with the boiling water, stir a little to help dissolve the sugar and salt and allow to cool.

Take the two lemon halves and rub them all over the chicken. Now, put the chicken into the brine mixture, making sure it’s covered by the liquid. Place in the fridge and leave for a minimum of 4 hours, or even better, overnight.

In the morning (or after 4 hours), blitz together all the ingredients for the seasoning paste in a food processor to make a thick paste.

Remove the chicken from the brine, pat it dry and add to a large bowl with the seasoning paste. Give the chicken a good rub all over with the paste, making sure it’s completely coated. Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, ideally 3 hours or even a bit longer if you have time.

Heat the barbecue (grill) to a high heat. When it’s hot, sear the chicken all over to give it a nice bit of colour, then reduce the heat if using a gas barbecue, or move over indirect heat for charcoal. Cook the chicken low and slow for about 40 minutes with the lid closed, turning occasionally, and brushing the meat with more of the spice paste as you go.

Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the final glaze together in a saucepan. Set over a medium heat and bubble until thickened.

Brush the glaze over the chicken for the final 10 minutes of cooking, turning the chicken over often and making sure the glaze covers every part. When the juices of the chicken run clear, the chicken is cooked. Brush one last time with the glaze, remove from the heat and rest for about 20 minutes.

Serve with Ducana (see page 33 of The Pepperpot Diaries) or Spiced Roast Ground Provision (see page 164) and a simple salad with fresh herbs.


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