¼ cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 large bay leaf, crumbled
1 can (12 ounces) beer (any inexpensive lager)
½ cup water
6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, about 3 pounds (naturally-raised, free-range or organic preferred)
1 rounded teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
To a 1-gallon, zipper-locking plastic bag add the kosher salt, brown sugar, black pepper, bay leaf, beer and water. Seal bag and shake until sugar and salt dissolve and the beer has lost most of its carbonation. Add thighs, seal bag and shake it coat the thighs. Open about one-inch of the bag, press out as much air as possible and reseal. Place bag on kitchen counter for 30 minutes.
As the thighs brine, place the oven in the middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a standard jell-roll pan with heavy-duty foil, lightly spray with olive oil and set aside.
In a small bowl with a wire whisk, mix the paprika, cumin, chili powder, celery salt, oregano and cayenne until completely combined.
Remove the thighs, one at time from the brine and place skin side down on the prepared pan. Discard brine. Coat each of the breasts well with seasoning mixture, using all of it. Roast for 45 minutes or until an instant-read digital thermometer inserted into the center of each thigh (do not touch the bone) registers 165 degrees. Remove the pan with the thighs from the oven, place on a wire rack and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
Serves three to four.
Cook's note: I prefer Diamon Crystal kosher salt. Morton's kosher salt is denser, so if you use Morton's, measure 3 tablespoons. If using finer table salt, use just 2 tablespoons.
Nutrition values per thigh: 123 calories (29.7 percent from fat), 4.0 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0.5 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 20.3 g protein, 85.5 mg cholesterol, 417 mg sodium.