This week I had a beautiful pastured organic chicken that I wanted to spice up and do a little something different with. Over the years I have roasted many birds, its so easy and one bird can stretch into several meals, always ending in delicious bone broth. This time lets brine the bird. Although I had heard it creates a great flavor I had never tried it. I imagined it would be complicated and time consuming by I was wrong, the brine was easy to do and made a huge difference in the taste and texture of the meat.
To put it simple, brine is a solution of salt and liquid with a high salinity content. It has been used historically in food production as a preservative, because salt inhibits the growth of bacteria. Brined meat is more tender and flavorful, as well as moist. The brine does this by acting as a tenderizer, this happens when the brine breaks down the cellular structure of the meat. It then infuses the meat with the solution, by forcing the brine into the cells and bringing along any spices with it. This creates a deeper penetrating flavor.
I ended up doing a quick brine which worked great, if you had more time or a larger bird (turkey) it could have gone longer.
I used a Moroccan flare for the brine and the rub on the chicken. The recipe came from the Paleo cookbook, “WellFed” by Melissa Joulwan.
You need a container large enough to hold the chicken submerged in the brine. Many recipes say to use a plastic ziplock bag but I prefer to use a large bowl…less plastic is always a good thing.
8 cups water (I started with 4 c warm water to dissolve the salt)
3 cloves garlic whole, smashed
3 tablespoons sea salt
1/2 tablespoon coconut aminos (you could use soy sauce if you do wheat)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon each whole coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns
1 whole organic chicken, giblets removed (save these parts for the stock pot, except the liver)
Mix it all together let cool to room temp. and pour over the entire chicken. Stick her in the fridge and let her soak up that flavor. I went on a hike with my family for about three hours and let the magic happen. You could leave it in longer up to overnight….it will just get saltier as it sits.
Next drain the bird in a colander, (discarding the brine) as you prepare the spice rub.
Morocccan Spice Rub
1 tablespoon each ground cumin, curry powder, chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground allspice
1/4 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 lemon cut in quarters
Mix spices in a bowl and pour melted coconut oil over to form a paste.
Put cut lemon wedges into the cavity of the bird, and rub the paste all over the outside of the bird, you could also put the paste under the skin of the chicken.
Put on a roasting rack, breast side up
Roast 425 for 15-20 min
Lower temp to 375 for about 45 min or until the internal temperature reaches 165.
Remove from the oven, tent and let rest for 10 min
This was so easy to do, with a crisp spiced outside and a juicy flavored inside how could you go wrong…I guess my answer now is to brine, brine, brine!