Roasting the perfect chicken, part one

The benefits of buying whole foods are many. It’s more economical and also enriching to learn how to do something that looks hard — but really isn’t. A good example is roasting a chicken. One big organic chicken costs less than $10, and provides a rather amazing amount of meals, if you know what to do with it once it’s cooked properly. Do you want to make a delicious, tender, juicy bird with a perfect, crispy skin? Of course you do! Think you don’t have the time? You do. I swear you can find it if you try. You can start by turning off the TV. Just sayin’.

So, see this fat bird right here?

That big boy, locally raised, free range and all that good stuff only cost me $7.41. For that we’ll end up with 2 legs, 2 wings, enough breast meat for several meals, then the leftover pickings for making chicken salad or pasta or whatever. Oh, don’t forget about the gallon of homemade chicken stock you can make to have on hand for risotto, pasta sauce, couscous, whatever. The sky’s the limit. The trick is not to get sick of chicken, but then that part’s up to you. At least you’re eating.

Moving on.

What you want to do first, to ensure that your bird is nice and juicy, is brine it for as long as you can stand it. I like a good 24-hour saltwater bath, but if you start your bird early in the day it potentially could be ready to cook for dinner. The longer it brines, the more flavor it soaks up and the more tender the flesh becomes. It’s up to you. I pop mine in the brine as soon as I bring it home from the store.
Here’s how to do it yourself.
You need:
soy sauce
That’s it. Super easy. First, plunk your bird in a deep pot and cover it with cold water.
To the pot, add some salt, about a cup if it’s table salt, a cup and a half if it’s Kosher. I never measure, just throw it in there.

Add some peppercorns. You can even skip this if you want. Sometimes I throw a little juniper berry in there, or some herbs, whatever has flavor. Again, up to you. Add some soy—I just pour until the water changes color, maybe 3/4 of a cup. Then chop the garlic in half, throw it in the pot. See how easy it is? Five, ten minutes, tops.

Then throw it in the fridge for a few hours (like 24). I provided a picture below of my bird brining in my fridge because some people (like me) are voyeuristic about that sort of thing.

So, you may notice that some recipes call for boiling the brine first and then cooling it down, I guess to help impart more flavor from whatever you’re putting in the brine. I think this is just a waste of time. Believe it or not, I don’t exactly live in my kitchen—or have any desire to. Next I’ll show you how to cook the thing. Go out and get your bird! Oh, and a meat thermometer if you don’t already have one.


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