This meal was beyond delicious. The chicken had an intriguing, intoxicating mixture of flavors from the pickle and beer brine – one part dill and salt, one part hops and malt. It sounds like it might be a bit strange, but it’s perfect. Beyond perfect. The meat of the chicken thighs was tender, with a crispy skin and incredible depth of flavor. Both brining them and braising them in the pickle juice and beer imparted a double-dose of goodness. The IPA I used was the epitome of IPA goodness – a hint of bitter and a load of hops, balanced perfectly by malt. Mixed with the bright, refreshing dill and garlic from the pickle juice, this was the perfect brining and braising liquid.
The green beans were like the most delicious and healthy French fries you’ve ever laid fingers on. They were crispy from the high roasting temperature with a hint of heat from the creole seasoning and deep umami from the rendered chicken fat. I have suspicions that you could feed them to even the most green bean adverse toddler and not get any complaints. This is one of the few things I’ve made that we were sneakily stealing off each other’s plates (well, I know I snuck a few and I suspect Zak did the same … I mean, they were just so damn good).
Pickle and Beer-Brined Braised Chicken Thighs with Oven-Roasted Green Beans
Pickle and Beer-Brined Braised Chicken Thighs:
5-6 skin-on chicken thighs, about 2.5-3 lbs.
2 cups leftover juice from refrigerator dill pickles, including onions, peppercorns, and dill
2 bottles beer, divided (I used homemade IPA – and we hope to post homemade beer recipes in the not-too-distant future, for those of you who are interested)
Non-stick cooking spray
Combine chicken thighs, pickle juice, and one bottle beer in a bowl or large zip lock bag. Let sit, refrigerated, about 1 hour per pound.
Remove chicken from brining liquid. Set chicken aside. Transfer brining liquid to a medium stock pot and bring to a vigorous boil for 4-5 minutes. Do not skip this step. It is imperative for food safety.
Preheat oven to 400º.
Combine remaining beer with the boiled brining liquid.
Spray a cast iron pan with non-stick cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat until very hot. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook 5-6 minutes until golden brown. Reserve drippings if you are also making the green beans.
Place chicken, skin side up, in a casserole dish. Pour brining liquid and extra beer mixture over the chicken. Cover with tinfoil and transfer to oven. Roast about 30-40 minutes until internal temperature reaches 165º.
Oven-Roasted Green Beans:
1 1/2 lb. green beans, ends trimmed
2-3 tbs. rendered chicken fat from thighs, reserved from above
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 400º.
On a tinfoil lined baking sheet, toss together drippings from chicken thighs (see above), or substitute an extra 2-3 tbs. olive oil, 1 tbs. olive oil, Tony Chachere’s, kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.
Place in oven and roast, tossing once or twice to ensure even cooking, about half an hour.