Brining is the secret to an incredibly moist, succulent, flavour infused roast chicken. This brine for chicken is based on a recipe by Thomas Keller, one of the great masters of the culinary world. The skin cooks slightly differently to traditional roasted chicken – it is thinner and crispier. And you won’t believe how incredibly juicy the breast is which usually comes out so dry!
- 4 liters / 1 gallon water
- 3 lemons , halved
- Half a bunch (50g / 2oz) flat leaf parsley
- Half a bunch (15g / 0.5oz) thyme
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 12 bay leaves
- 1⁄4 Cup honey
- 1/2 head garlic , skin on, cloves smashed
- 2 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 cup kosher salt1
- 1 roasting chicken (around 1.5kg/3.3lbs), rinsed with water
- 2 tbsp butter
- Salt and pepper to season
Combine all brine ingredients in a large pot (large enough for the brine and submerged chicken), cover, and bring to boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt and honey. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using. The brine can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Completely submerge the chicken in the brine and refrigerate for 12 hours. If you brine for longer than 12 hours, it could be too salty.
Preheat fan forced oven to 220C/430F.
Remove chicken from brine and pat dry to remove excess moisture. Truss the chicken (note 2), rub 1 tablespoon of butter all over and season with salt and pepper, then leave to come to room temperature (note 3).
Place chicken on a rack in a heavy based roasting tray.
Turn down the oven to 180C/350F (note 4), then place chicken in oven and roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour (note 5), checking every 15 minutes and rotating the pan if the chicken is not browning evenly.
After 30 minutes, take the chicken out of the oven and quickly rub the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over the chicken, then return to the oven.
To test if ready, pierce the meat between the leg and thigh – the juices should run clear. Otherwise, if you have a thermometer, insert it between the leg and the thigh - the temperature should read approximately 68C/155F. Note: the chicken will continue to cook while resting.
Remove chicken from the roasting tray and rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
While the chicken is resting, make a gravy, or for something different, a light jus with verjuice.
Remove most of the fat from the pan, then place on the stove, add 1⁄4 cup of verjuice (note 6). Bring to a gentle simmer for 1 minute or so, just to bring the flavours together. Adjust the acidity in the jus to your liking, and season to taste. This is a great, lighter alternative to traditional gravy. Add some thyme leaves for extra flavour.
1. Kosher salt substitutes: table salt or rock salt – decrease by 1⁄4 cup.
2. Trussing a chicken is simply using twine to fasten the wings and legs to the body of the chicken so it cooks evenly.
3. Bring the chicken to room temperature before roasting to help it cook more evenly.
4. If you do not have a fan forced or gas oven, increase the oven temperature by 20C/70F.
5. As a guide, an unstuffed chicken at room temperature in a preheated fan forced oven
at 180C/350F will take about 20 minutes per 500g/1lbs. So a 1.5kg/3.3lbs chicken will take approximately 60 minutes.
6. Verjuice is like a vinegar but is not as tart as lemon juice and vinegar. It is made from the juice of unfermented grapes. Lemon could also be used, but as it is tarter, reduce the quantity to 1/8 cup and add sugar until the sharpness of the lemon mellows.