This is truly wonderful.
Brining does something very, very special to a chicken.
I would now never roast a chicken without doing this first. I also brine chicken legs for the BBQ. It’s not much of a faff, it’s a very easy extra stage – you can do it the night before you cook it, or just 4 hours before.
Please try this. It will change your roasts forever and turn a bland supermarket chicken (even free range ones can be a little blah sometimes) into something flavoursome and magnificent. You will notice the difference.
Small to medium whole chicken
a bunch of bay leaves (about 5-6 is enough)
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
250ml malt vinegar
2 1/2 – 3 litres of water
- Boil about 500ml of the 3 litres of water and pour into a large bowl that will take the whole chicken.
- Pour in the salt and the vinegar and swirl around until the salt is completely dissolved in the hot water. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns and allow to infuse for 10 minutes.
- Top up the salt solution with more water to about 3/4 full making sure it is cold in order to bring the temperature of the solution right down, then add the chicken. (If it is trussed up, remove the string first). Top up the water levels if necessary making sure the chicken is completely covered with the brine solution.
- Pop in the fridge and let it sit in its flavoured bath for at least 4 hours, no more than 12 (or it will be too salty).
- Remove from the brine and pat dry. At this stage, you can either let it sit uncovered in the fridge for a couple of hours or over night, or give it an hour out of the fridge to bring it to room temp and then slam it straight into a hot oven.
- To roast: Anoint with olive oil, and massage all over. I like to roast my chickens either extremely slowly, (over about 6 hours at 70-80ºc, check internal temp comes to at least 75ºc tested with a probe thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the thigh.) or I will whack up the temperature of my oven to the very highest temp it will go – in my case it’s about 275ºc and roast the chicken for just 40-45 minutes.
- Once out of the oven, collect all of the juices, they are the most delicious juices and really is a ready seasoned gravy, pour it straight into a jug. Then dive in. If it is not the best chicken you have ever had, I will drink my brine juice.