This chicken was one of those dishes that I read about and immediately think, “Mmmmm” and add the ingredients to the shopping list. It’s yucky and rainy and cold in Cleveland and roast chicken is such a lovely, warming comfort food. This chicken was absolutely delicious – as you can see from the pictures, it was falling off the bone to the point where we couldn’t remove it from the cooking vessel without losing a wing and the leg. It had a delicate sweetness from the orange and brown sugar with a nice smokey flavor from the coffee. It sounds like a strange combination at first glance, but I promise you the orange, coffee, milk, and cloves were a winning combination. This varies slightly from my standard roast chicken because it is braised in the brine liquid and milk rather than roasted at high heat followed by a lower temperature.
The salad was simple but delicious. The pickled carrots, which Zak made, were absolutely the star of the salad. They lent a really delicious crunch to the salad that paired well with the spring greens. The chicken and salad together made up the perfect meal.
Coffee and Orange Brined Chicken in Milk with Pickled Carrot Spring Salad
Coffee and Orange Brined Chicken in Milk:
Adapted from Food52 – Gingerroot
1 whole broiler/fryer chicken, giblets removed (about 4 lbs.)
2-3 cups water per pound of chicken
1/2 cup kosher salt per pound of chicken
1/2 cup sugar per pound of chicken
2 cups freshly brewed hot coffee
2 navel oranges, halved
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 tsp. whole cloves
1/2 tsp. juniper berries
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
3 tbs. olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs. brown sugar
2 cups 1% milk
To begin, in a medium or large saucepan heat water. 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 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. Reserve one cup of brining liquid. Make sure you save all brining ingredients. Dress the chicken with oranges, garlic, cloves, juniper berries, and the bay leaf. 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 350°.
Rub chicken all over with brown sugar. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Add two minced garlic cloves and 2 bay leaves. Add chicken and brown 6-8 minutes per side until light golden brown. Add milk and reserved brining liquid, cover, and transfer to oven.
Roast chicken roughly 20 minutes per pound (rounding up to nearest pound). Baste occasionally with milk/brine mixture. For the last half hour to forty five minutes of cooking, remove the top. Cook until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken’s thigh reads 165º (yay, FDA, for lowering the safe internal temperature!).
When fully cooked, remove chicken from Dutch oven and cover with tinfoil. Rest 15-20 minutes, which will allow juices to redistribute and result in a tender, juicy bird.
Pickled Carrot Spring Salad:
1/2 cup pickled baby carrots (recipe follows), chopped
4-5 cups packed spring greens mix, spun dry
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/2 cup lemon and olive oil vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Toss together all ingredients.
Pickled Baby Carrots:
Adapted from David Lebovitz
8 oz. baby carrots, halved lengthwise
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1 1/2 tbs. kosher salt
2 bay leaves
Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in carrots and simmer for about 1 minute. Pour through colander and rinse under ice cold water. Drain.
In the same pot, heat remaining ingredients over medium-high heat to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and add carrots. Cool until room temperature and then place in airtight jars or containers and chill.
Let soak 1 day. Will keep for up to four weeks in the refrigerator.
Lemon and Olive Oil Vinaigrette:
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Whisk ingredients together.