If you want the best possible bird, brine it! It enhances the flavour, distributes salt evenly and helps keep the chicken tender and moist. Just don’t forget to leave out the salt in the recipe you are following, as the chicken will have sufficient salt from the brine.
- The night before roasting, unwrap the thawed chicken and place it in a food-grade container or non-metallic bowl big enough to hold the chicken submerged in water.
- Cover chicken with water, measuring how much water you add.
- You will use 1/2 cup salt per 4 L (1 gal) of water.
- Remove ~1 L of water from the container and heat on the stove with the total amount of salt. Stir until the salt is dissolved. Add more water if necessary to dissolve salt.
- Let the salt water solution cool a bit and add it to the rest of the water. Submerge the chicken and stick it in the fridge to brine for 8-10 hours (6-8 hours if chicken is smaller).
- In the morning, rinse the chicken very thoroughly inside and out, pat dry and return it to the fridge until an hour before roasting, then remove and bring to room temperature.
- You can brine other poultry and pork too! Pork chops and roasts, Thanksgiving turkey…
- If you haven’t thought ahead, and are in a hurry to thaw the chicken, try thawing the chicken in the brine – just begin your brine time once the chicken is mostly thawed.
- If you don’t have time to brine for 8-10 hours, as suggested in the recipe, you can cut the brine time if you increase the amount of salt (5 hour brine = 1 cup salt/4 L water).
- It is important to allow the chicken to come up to room temp before roasting — this is called tempering and it improves cooking and meat quality!
- Use a meat thermometer (click here to see our favourite affordable unit!). You want the internal temperature of the chicken to be 175-185°F (80-85°C). Chicken only needs to be cooked to 160°F (70°C) to be safe, but raising it to a higher temperature will make this chicken (which lived a healthy lifestyle and got some exercise!) more tender. Since you brined it, you can ‘over-cook’ it without drying it out.
- For crispier skin, you can (carefully!) broil the chicken for a few minutes after roasting.
- If you are wondering what to serve with your chicken, you can roast potato slices in the oven at the same time, and then use the chicken drippings to quickly sauté a green vegetable like broccoli or kale on the stovetop while the chicken is resting.
- Be sure to rest the chicken after removing it from the oven. This supposedly helps retain some juiciness, but more importantly, prevents you from burning your fingers!
- After you’ve carved the chicken, pick the carcass. The most flavourful bits are the pieces of meat that cling to the bone (especially the ‘oyster’, ahead of the tail along the backbone above the thigh). Get your fingers greasy!
- Save all the bones & bits to make delicious stock.