In the words of one flaming orange haired perfect human being, "Cheekun good."
Yes Leeloo Dallas Multipass, chicken is good.
But quite often, chicken could be better. Like, you'll never make a roast chicken another way again, better.
Let me introduce you to something called brine.
Brine is basically a salt water solution and it's what you'll often find olives living in. But what brine does to meat is a whole other-worldly thing.
Basically, your chicken lives in a lovely salty bath for a certain period of time, in the case of a whole chicken, at least eight hours. Then, when it comes to cooking your bird, the salt has been absorbed by the meat, along with a good bit of the water, so when you roast that bad boy. Oh. My. Goodness. Chicken that's flavourful all the way through, not just the top bits where a marinade would have been sitting. And, juicy like you've never known a bird can be.
Say goodbye to dry roasted chicken! Well, within limits, obviously if you completely overcook it you'll still end up with dry bird, but when it comes to brined chicken, you have a little more wiggle room to play with before ending up at that stage.
The other thing you can do with brine is add other spices and flavours. Whole bruised garlic cloves. Spices like cracked coriander seeds. Herbs like rosemary and bay leaf. I'm telling you, chicken will never be the same again!
This particular recipe is one of my favourites. I love lemon and rosemary with chicken. I also normally put garlic in there somewhere, but left it out this time.
What I like to do is prep everything on a Saturday night so that I have an awesome roast chicken to look forward to on the Sunday. Brine takes no time at all to make, so literally just throw everything into a huge tupperware large enough to fit a whole chicken, plonk the bird in there, then leave it in the fridge overnight and the next morning.
Then about an hour before roasting, I take the container out of the fridge so that it loses some of its chill, then the bird comes out of the brine, put into a roasting dish and I shove rosemary and lemon slices or halves in every nook and cranny possible.
It roasts in a fairly hot oven for about an hour, hour ten, then I chuck in some tender greens around the chicken. If I'm having a starchy carb, something like a sweet potato mash is good, so I get my chunks of sweet potato steaming. By the time the chicken's done, the veggies have also been roasted, sweet potato is done and you have an awesome meal ready to dig in to.
Incredibly juicy chicken that's salted and flavoured all the way through, and rosemary being a lovely strong flavoured herb, also makes its way into the flesh. The lemony juices that end up in the dish get spooned over everything, and you've not put a drop of oil anywhere 'cause it really doesn't need it.
Best part, is this meal is then also lunch or dinner the next day. The perks of a two person household!
I'm telling you, BRINE YOUR CHICKEN. You'll thank me, because if you're eating like I am, that skin is getting taken off and pushed aside, so you want the actual meat to be flavourful, and I guarantee that your taste buds will experience, "Big badaboom!"
Brined Lemon & Rosemary Roast Chicken
For the Brine
80g Sea Salt Crystals
Enough Water to Cover the Chicken
4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary, bruised
Whole Lemon, cut into wedges
1 Tbsp Coriander Seeds, crushed
½ Tbsp Black Peppercorns, crushed
3-4 Bay Leaves
For the Chicken
1 Whole Chicken (about 2kg)
8 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary, bruised
2 Whole Lemons
2 bunches Tender Stem Broccoli
2 bunches Asparagus
2 bunches Green Beans
- Pour salt into a large plastic or glass bowl or container
- Pour in about 2l water and stir to dissolve the salt
- Throw in the rest of the brine ingredients then place the chicken in the bowl or container, breast side down
- Add more water until the chicken is completely submerged
- Tip: I like to tilt the chicken a little to let the air escape the cavity so that it fills with brine
- Seal container with its lid, or cover with clingfilm, and then refrigerate for at least 8 hours
- Tip: I do this the evening before and leave it in the brine overnight and the next morning
- About an hour before roasting, remove the container with the chicken from the fridge and leave at room temp so that it loses its chill
- Pre-heat oven to 200°C/180°C Fan Assisted
- Place 2 sprigs of rosemary on the bottom of a large roasting dish
- Take chicken out of the brine, discard the brine
- Place the chicken on the bed of rosemary, then fill the cavity with a few more sprigs of rosemary as well as a whole lemon, cut into quarters
- Cut the second lemon into thinner wedges or thick slices and tuck them in around the legs and wings etc, along with the last of the rosemary
- Optional: If you're going to be eating the skin, you can brush it lightly with a small bit of olive oil, and for extra crunch, sprinkle with a bit of sea salt flakes
- Roast for 1hr 20min - 1hr 30min in total, until chicken is cooked through
- If you're adding veggies, roast chicken for about 1hr - 1hr 10min, then scatter the greens around the chicken and sprinkle with a little bit of salt
- Tip: Now is also a good time to get sweet potato steaming for a mash
- Continue roasting for another 20 - 30 mins until roast is done
- Tip: I love using a meat thermometer, stick it in the meatiest part of the thigh, making sure it doesn't hit any bone, and this will take any guessing out of when your roast is done, most meat thermometers have indications on them for when each type of meat is cooked
- Tip: Another way of telling if the chicken is done, is to pierce the thigh and check that the juices run clear of any blood
- To serve, it's always suggested that you leave the roast to stand for a bit so that the juices re-distribute and the muscles relax, but I find that brining helps this and you can pretty much serve immediately, so discard any charred rosemary sprigs and lemon wedges, place chicken on a cutting board and cut chicken into portions however you like, dish up some of the roasted greens and spoon a bit of the lemony juices over everything
- Dig in!