Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Brining Chicken

Crispy chicken skin, crispy crispy chicken skin!
Am I late? I'm not late. If I get this up within the hour, I'm not late.

I actually enjoyed November's Daring Cook's challenge so much that I did it thrice. None of my pictures are very good, which is always the case with things that aren't desserts. Nevertheless, the brined chicken was delicious all three times. The whole process requires very little actual effort: 1) Dissolve salt (plus whatever) in water 2) Dump chicken in salty water and store in the fridge for some hours 3) Dry chicken out overnight 4) Roast chicken. Lots of overall TIME, but very little work.

My first brined chicken is this one just below. I got a better browning on the skin of my second chicken, but I devoured all of that skin minutes after the chicken was done resting before I remembered that I should have snapped a photo. For both chickens, I used a brine of 1/4 cup table salt per litre of water (took about three litres to cover) plus a few tablespoons of brown sugar. I let the chicks brine for five hours and then left them uncovered in the fridge to dry overnight. At some point the next day I let them come to room temperature, then roasted them at 450F for 15 mins, then at 350F for another 12-15 mins per lb, as per Audax's recipe. I let them rest on top of the oven for about 15 minutes before eating them. Worked wonderfully.

For the first chicken, I added a bunch of things to flavour the brine that you can see in the photo below: lemon, rosemary, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, a bit of the Vouvray I had on hand. For the second chicken, I got lazy and only added pepper corns, though I think I might have stuffed a lemon and a garlic clove or two into its cavity before roasting. The second chicken was just as good, if not a bit better (due to the butter I rubbed onto the skin to encourage browning, in all likelihood).

I dumped a dinner plate in on top of the chickens to keep them submerged in the brine.

As you can see, when it comes to dinner my preference is generally just to pair a pile of meat with a pile of fresh veg. These beans and the sprouts that I had with the chicken thighs both came from our beautiful local market.

I also brined a package of thighs one evening for a few hours and then dried them thoroughly with paper towels. This was a HUGE HASSLE compared to letting them air dry overnight in the fridge, and I don't want to do it again. After the thighs were dry I seared the skin crispy in a pan and then dumped some stuff on top and tossed the whole pan into the oven. Because of the liquid I added, it was probably more of a braise than a roasting (as the challenge called for), but the stuff I tossed on made for incredibly good chicken thighs and I will definitely use that combination of ingredients again. So here's the recipe for that:

Delicious Chicken Thigh Stuff Recipe

On a cutting board, pile together a few sprigs of fresh rosemary (from the plant you are barely managing not to kill), 2 garlic cloves, a tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes. Chop it all together with a chef's knife until it's a sort of fragrant mash. Scrape it into a bowl and add the juice of one lemon, a bit of olive oil, and a blob (~tsp) of anchovy paste. Whisk it all together and, after searing your salt and peppered thighs until the skin is all brown and lovely, dump the delicious stuff over top and shove the pan in a pre-heated 450F oven for 25 minutes.

I think the secret to making your kids love Brussel sprouts, other than avoiding overcooking, is to slather them with butter.
"Audax of Audax Artifax was our November 2012 Daring Cooks’ host. Audax has brought us into the world of brining and roasting, where we brined meat and vegetables and roasted them afterwards for a delicious meal!"


  1. Great job! And well done for doing it 3 times over!

  2. I think M definitely used your "secret" for brussel sprouts with us. But the chickens look lovely and that skin is class!