The free range rotisserie chickens we serve in our bistro on Wednesday and Thursday nights are brined for 48 hours before we cook them. Brining adds moisture and flavour. The last two times that I’ve roasted a chicken at home I’ve brined them for 24 hours before cooking. It’s easy and definitely makes a difference to the taste, you just have to remember to think ahead and do it the day before you want to cook it.
1 chicken4 cups water
⅓-½ cup sea salt
½ cup sugar
Handful of black peppercorns
Sprigs of fresh thyme
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Sprigs of parsley
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 lemons, thinly sliced
Additional 8-9 cups cold water
In a large pot bring 4 cups of water to the boil and add the salt and sugar. Turn off the heat and stir to dissolve them. Add the rest of the ingredients with the chicken going in last. (Note: if you use ½ cup of salt you’ll taste the brininess in the cooked chicken so reduce the salt a little if you like.) Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 24 hours.
Take the chicken out of the fridge 1-2 hours before you want to start cooking to bring it to room temperature.
Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Roast your favourite way. You don’t need extra salt to season.
I like pushing a mix of crushed garlic, softened butter and finely chopped parsley under the skin and stuffing the cavity with fresh herbs and lemon slices. Or sometimes I make a mix of za’atar, sweet paprika, olive oil and lemon juice and push some of that under the skin and spread the rest over. The chicken ends up looking very brown when it’s cooked but it’s a delicious combination.
(Stallholder Soufiane of Beshara sells freshly made za’atar.)