Adventures in Poultry Brine

In which I post about embracing my fifth of ten food adventures (#80).

I wanted to start 2013 off with a good dinner (despite the reality of having eating really well for over a week at that point in the holidays), so I decided that New Year’s Day would be a good time to try a new food adventure and brine a whole chicken to roast. My sister brined a bone-in turkey breast for Thanksgiving, but wasn’t sure that it was worth it. I used the same recipe that she did, and I loved the results. The hubs and my visiting brother-in-law were also pretty excited about it.

Go ahead and click on that link now, just to see her picture of the brine. Pretty, right? Mine:


… not so much.

I cooked up a half batch of the brine the morning before our dinner and put it in the fridge to cool down completely. It made the whole house smell really tasty that day. Since I only needed the peels from the oranges, I sectioned the fruit and used it as an excuse to break out the muddler that night for some Old Fashioneds. They were also very tasty.

I used a brining bag set into a large tupperware container to brine my chicken in the refrigerator for just about four hours. I accidentally put the full amount of salt into my half-batch of brine (adventure!), so I rinsed the chicken and soaked it in plain water for 15 minutes after the brine. I’d heard that the science of things prevented the meat from absorbing more salt than it should, but I wasn’t sure if I trusted that information. Things turned out so tasty that I wouldn’t change it when I brine again.

chickenAnd there’s my pretty chicken. I did that trick where you use the chicken skin to hold the legs close to the body without tying them with string, and forgot to do that trick where you start out with the wing tips wrapped in foil so that they don’t get so crispy-burned. I stuffed the cavity with some more orange pieces, rosemary, and an onion. Things got a little smoky, so I would recommend putting a bit of water at the bottom of the roasting pan as needed. I’m hoping to buy a french oven soon, and hope that it will work a little easier than my large roasting pan, which was really overkill for this little chicken.

This ended up being super yummy. The work was spread out easily enough that I would definitely do it again. And I used all the leftover chicken bones and bits to cook up a stash of chicken stock that is now waiting in my freezer for future meals. Such an inexpensive way to have a special meal. I think that things will run more smoothly each time I make this. The first attempt had just enough level of adventure and nerves to be extra fulfilling when things came out well.


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