1 cup plus 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
½ cup sugar
2 oz. thyme sprigs
1 cup bourbon
1 3½-to-5 lb. chicken
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
• Day 1: Whisk 1 cup salt, the sugar, thyme sprigs, bourbon and 1 gallon of water in a large stockpot until the sugar and salt dissolve. Submerge the chicken in the brine and cover. Let marinade at least 6 hours and up to 2 days.
• Day 2: Remove the chicken from the brine. Use a sharp knife to split the chicken down the breastbone and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the chicken all over with 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper and the lemon zest.
• To smoke: Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees. Smoke the chicken 2 to 4 hours, until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the thigh reaches 165 degrees.
• To grill: Stack and light the charcoal. Once all coals are lit, push them to one of the grill. Cover the grill until it reaches 350 degrees. Place the meat skin-side down over indirect heat, with the breast toward the coals, and cover for 15 minutes. Rotate the chicken 180 degrees so the legs face the coals, cover and grill another 15 minutes. Flip the bird over and cook, covered, another 15 to 30 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the thigh reaches 165 degrees.
• Let the meat cool to room temperature. Pull the meat from the bone and cut into bite-sized pieces. Use for White Bean Chili (Recipe here).