Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Secret to a Perfect Roasted Chicken

Everyone likes a nice, savory, roasted chicken or turkey but how do you use dry heat cooking to achieve this result without rendering the meat dry and boring. First of all, you should prep by dousing your bird in a brine. What the heck is a brine you ask? Well, it's basically a saline solution (salt and water). Approximately 30gm of salt per quart of water works well. It basically causes a chemical change in the protein of the meat that causes an infusion of flavor and juiciness which is absorbed throughout the meat.

First put the bird in a large, deep container. Then using a measuring cup, pour water one quart at a time until the bird is completely submersed. Remove the bird. Pour about half the water into a sauce pan and bring it to a simmer. Dissolve the salt by stirring it until cleared. Add brown sugar, molasses, or syrup in equal proportion to the salt. Again, stir until clarified. Remove from heat and add herbs to infuse flavor and cover about 30 minutes (a generic blend would be several springs of thyme, whole peppercorns, fresh garlic cloves, juniper berries, and a few bay leaves). Next cool the brine COMPLETELY. Add ice if you are in a hurry but allow it to cool, ideally in the fridge. Soak the bird in the brine for about 4-6 hours. Remove and pat as dry as possible. Put the bird back in the fridge uncovered for about two hours.

Prep the bird by loosening the skin from the breast with your finger tips, being careful not to break the skin. Stuff your favorite herbs, garlic, and butter under the skin. Using kitchen twine, bind the wings and legs tight to the body to form a tight figure, following the natural curve between the legs so there is no alteration in the shape of the bird. Using a brush, coat the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle the entire bird liberally with herbs and fresh ground salt and pepper. Place the bird in a roasting pan with a rack at 375 degrees for 1 hour 1/2. Finish on convection at 375 for about 30 more minutes or until temperature of 165 degrees. Remove and allow to rest 5 minutes. Carve and serve with your favorite sides and a crisp glass of chardonnay, pinot blanc, or sauvignon blanc - bon appétit.

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