November 14, 2012

Brined Roast Chicken


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!

Okay, this one surprised me. Before this challenge I looked at brining as an unnecessary step that didn't add enough to the final product to justify the extra time and effort. I stand corrected.

A basic brine is a just a mixture of salt and water. You can fancy it up by adding sugar, herbs, lemon, peppercorns and other flavorings.

When you brine meat before cooking, you simply soak it in the salty solution. The idea is that the salt and water flow into the meat, resulting in meat that is moister and better seasoned.

I used Thomas Keller's chicken brine recipe from Ad Hoc at Home. Then, to control as many variables as possible (I was a bio major), I roasted the chicken according to my go-to roast chicken recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

I'll be honest, I didn't notice a huge difference in taste between this roast chicken and my usual un-brined version. But oh, the texture. Moist, tender, succulent. Not words I normally use to describe chicken breast.

These are the ingredients that will go into the water for the brine.

Combine water and lemons, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, honey, garlic, black peppercorns and salt in a large saucepan.

Bring to a boil and stir until the salt dissolves. Cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator.

Place the chicken in the brine. Put it in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

Remove the chicken from the brine. Dry it with paper towels. Then let it sit at room temperature for an hour before cooking. This will give the skin a chance to dry completely so that it can crisp up in the oven.

Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with lemon, garlic and thyme. Tuck the wings under, and tie the legs together with twine. Brush the outside of the chicken with melted butter. Then season liberally with salt and pepper.

Cook for 1 1/2 hours until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.

Carve and serve!

Brined Roast Chicken

Brine recipe adapted from Ad Hoc at Home
Roast Chicken adapted from a recipe by The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

2 lemons, halved
6 bay leaves
1/2 bunch parsley
1/2 bunch thyme
1/4 cup clover honey
1/2 head garlic, halved through the equator
1/8 cup black peppercorns
1 cup kosher salt
1 gallon water

1.    Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt.

2.    Remove from the heat and cool completely. Then chill (preferably overnight) before using.

Makes 1 gallon, enough for one 5-pound chicken

Roast Chicken:
1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) butter, melted

1.    Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers.

2.    Place chicken in the chilled brine. Make sure it is completely covered. Soak for several hours, or overnight.

3.    Remove the chicken from the brine. Pat it dry. Let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking. (This gives the skin time to dry so that it crisps up nicely in the oven.)

4.    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

5.    Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper.

6.    Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place chicken on a rack in a roasting pan.

7.    Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. (I also check that an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg reads 160 degrees F.)

8.    Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve warm.

Serves 6


  1. Gorgeous job! Your roasted chicken looks so perfect!!!! Yes, brining really adds so much more to the texture than it does the flavor, and is definitely worth the extra time it takes! Great job! :)

  2. I love the dark skin! I'll have to try brushing with butter next time.

  3. Your bird looks amazing, and tempts me to try this with a turkey.

  4. WOWOWOWOWOWOW the colour you got on your chicken is incredible so brown an excellent job on this challenge. Bravo to you! Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  5. I agree with Audax...your chicken has the most wonderful color. Good enough to eat!! What a great job!

  6. The chicken looks so delicious! Great job!

  7. Wow - the color on your chicken is wonderful. I think crispy chicken skin is the best part of the chicken - looks like a winner.

  8. You chicken looks so ooks so delicious and yummy. What a great color of the skin! Great job!

  9. Wow, you got such a deep brown skin! Looks superb! I'm sure it was delicious!

  10. Looks really yummy - especially the crispy skin!


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