Although I have already posted a lovely recipe for the Perfect Roast Chicken, the chicken I roasted to pair with the Fall Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette was so divine I thought I would give it a post of its own. I suggest you read the Perfect Roast Chicken recipe, since the head notes are very helpful (in my humble opinion). However, I did make a change to the preparation of the chicken pictured above that I will never fail to do without again. Rather than leave the bird to rest in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours, I let it rest, dressed with lemons, onions, garlic, apples and peppercorns and seasoned liberally with freshly cracked black pepper, for about 18 hours. Despite the fact that I did not bother to baste the chicken (I never do), this was the crispiest, most flavorful skinned chicken I have ever eaten.
The brining solution outlined below imparted a great flavor to the flesh of the chicken. There was a hint of tartness from the lemon and spiciness from the peppercorn balanced wonderfully by a sweet, decidedly “apple-y” taste. Paired with the Fall Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette, this was a perfect and healthy meal.
Roast Chicken with Fall Flavors
1 whole fryer/broiler chicken, rinsed in cold water with neck and giblets removed (save these for homemade chicken stock!) (3.75 lbs)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Freshly cracked black pepper
2-3 cups water per pound of chicken (12 cups water)
1/2 cup kosher salt per pound of chicken (less if you will be brining for longer than one hour per pound) (2 cups kosher salt)
1/2 cup white, granulated sugar per pound of chicken (2 cups white, granulated sugar)
1 tbs. whole black peppercorns (about a dozen)
4 cloves garlic, crushed with flat of knife
2 lemons, quartered
1/2 large white onion, quartered
1 medium Jonathan Red apple, quartered
To begin, in a medium or large saucepan heat roughly half of the water necessary for the final brining solution over medium-high heat until it reaches a simmer. A little at a time, add kosher salt and sugar while whisking until dissolved. It may be necessary to add more water to the saucepan in order to dissolve all of the salt and sugar. Once the salt and sugar are dissolved, transfer the water, plus any additional water according the measurements above, to a container large enough to hold the brining solution and chicken. This can be done in a large ziplock bag, though I prefer to use a large stock pot
Add all other brine ingredients and allow brining solution to cool to room temperature, placing solution in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes if necessary. Once the solution is room temperature or cool to the touch, add the chicken to the solution. Place the chicken in the refrigerator and let soak in brining solution about one hour per pound (round up to the nearest hour).
Remove chicken from brining solution by straining through a colander. Make sure you save all brining ingredients. Dress the chicken with lemon, onions, garlic, apple, and peppercorns by shoving deep into the cavity. Season liberally with freshly cracked black pepper. Allow the chicken to rest overnight, at least 18 hours. This allows most of the moisture to evaporate from the skin of the chicken, which will result in a crispier skin (my favorite part!).
Preheat oven to 475°.
Remove chicken from refrigerator and place on a baking dish on top of a roasting rack. Juice 1/2 lemon over the chicken, using a pastry brush to cover most of the exposed skin if necessary. Place chicken in preheated oven on center rack. Roast at 475° for 15 minutes or until skin is light golden brown. After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350°. Roast chicken roughly 20 minutes per pound (rounding up to nearest pound), or until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken’s thigh reads 185º. If chicken becomes overly brown, tent with a piece of tinfoil.
When fully cooked, remove chicken from oven and cover with tinfoil. Rest 15-20 minutes, which will allow juices to redistribute and result in a tender, juicy bird.