Presented by Chef Brian Mottola, Emeril's E2 Restaurant
1 gallon water
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 head of garlic, split in half
1 ¼ teaspoons crushed red pepper
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt
20 turns freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
Sprig of fresh thyme
Sprig of oregano
Sprig of fresh rosemary
1 lemon, quartered
One 3 – 3 ½ pound chicken
Emeril's Original Essence
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup Creole mustard or other whole grain mustard
2 ounces light brown sugar
1 teaspoon Crystal hot sauce
6 soft small potato rolls, halved, for serving
Shredded smoked cheddar cheese, to taste
Make a brine by combining the water, onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, kosher salt, pepper, sugar, thyme, oregano, and rosemary in a nonreactive container large enough to hold it and the chicken. Squeeze the lemon quarters to release their juice into the brine and then add them to the brine as well. Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the chicken and refrigerate for at least 12 and up to 24 hours.
Preheat a smoker to 275°F.
Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Cut the chicken in half and season the skin side with Essence. Smoke the chickens until an internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 2 hours. Remove the chicken halves from the smoker and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the skin from the chicken (trying to keep it in large pieces) and reserve chicken skin separately. Remove the meat from the bones, shred into bite size pieces, and place in a shallow baking dish. Preheat the oven to 225°F.
In a nonreactive bowl combine the vinegar, mustard, brown sugar and hot sauce and whisk until the sauce is smooth and the sugar has dissolved. This is the Creole Mustard Mop. Add enough of the mop mixture to the chicken to coat and moisten the meat. Toss well to coat, then cover the chicken with foil and place it in the warm oven until you are ready to serve the sliders.
Preheat a fryer to 300°F. Add the chicken skin and fry until crispy, then transfer to paper towels to drain briefly.
When you are ready to serve, place the chicken on the potato rolls and top with shredded cheddar to taste. Garnish each slider with some of the crispy chicken skin and serve immediately.