4 skinless and boneless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
1⁄4 cup coarse salt
1⁄4 cup firmly packed dark- brown sugar
12 whole black peppercorns
1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced
2 whole bay leaves
1 cup hot water
3 cups cold water
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled, then crushed with the side of a cleaver
Rinse chicken under cold, running water and blot dry with paper towels. Arrange in a nonreactive baking dish.
Make the brine: Place the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, chili pepper and bay leaves in a large, nonreactive bowl. Add the hot water, then whisk until the salt and brown sugar dissolve; stir in the cold water. Let brine come to room temperature. Pour over the chicken and stir in the lemon slices, onion and garlic. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let stand in the refrigerator for 2 hours, turning the chicken once or twice.
Preheat the grill until coals are hot. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grate. Arrange the breasts on the hot grate, all facing the same direction, at a 45-degree angle to the bars of the grate. Cook the chicken over high heat, 4 to 6 minutes per side, rotating the breasts 90 degrees after 2 minutes on each side to create an attractive crosshatch of grill marks. (To test for doneness, remove a breast from the grill and poke the thickest part with your finger. It should feel firm to the touch.) Transfer the chicken to a decorative platter and serve.