Friday, March 4, 2011
Things in life that are fine....especially with brine
I love wine
I love a good margarita
I love cheese
I love fresh bread
I love chocolate
I love Girl Scout Cookies
I love that rotisserie chicken you can buy at the market
And I love getting free stuff
Please note: this is not a complete list by any means. There are lots more in this life that I love, such as my family and friends and things. And there are lots of other things in life that I would love...such as new office furniture for my little corner of this room where I sit and talk with you all about food. I mean....I have this really old big and ugly gray desk thing. Now I'm not complaining (much)....something is better than nothing. But it sure would look a lot better in my back den if I had something a bit more....I dunno....pretty.
Anyways, I got off the subject. Now I have to remember where I was going with all this. Aaaaaah....several places actually. Let's address my love of bread. The picture above is a four rope braid of a combination of 2 ropes of Rye Bread and 2 ropes of Pumpernickel Bread. This was our assignment from the HBin5 online bread group. It was loads of fun to make.....but I'm not real happy with how the pumpernickel turned out. It tastes like whole wheat bread. Which seems to be a common issue with several of the recipes in the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book. Don't get me wrong...I love the book....but Whole Wheat Flour is very strong in flavor.
The other "I love" item I'd like to talk about is that rotisserie chicken you buy at the store. That stuff is soooo damn good! Tender....juicy and omg...the flavor just doesn't stop. You know what I mean? I've roasted I don't know how many chickens in my lifetime...and never once has it ever been as good. The other day a gal at work was telling me about her adventure in making a brine for her chicken and then she said the magic words.....'that's how they make those rotisserie chickens taste so good'. My ears and interest peaked 10 fold! She told me how incredible her chicken came out (this was her first time playing with brine) and how easy it was and free form. Wait...what? Free form? You mean....there's room to experiment and play? Now you REALLY have my attention!
Over the weekend, I played. I experimented. And I fell in love. With. A chicken. That has been soaked in brine.
The results were amazing! The process was easy (all you have to do is plan ahead). And the possibilities are endless. Basically.....whatever combination of seasonings you like....you can use. The only vague rule is that you be careful when using citrus as it will turn your chicken to mush.
Are you ready to play with some brine?!
I used a roasting chicken....about 5 lbs. Don't stress over the size. Size is not an issue. Size does not matter. We're talking quality here people.
(damn...this drink is beginning to really kick my butt)
Then I grabbed a bunch of seasonings from the cupboard. Poultry, lemon pepper, garlic, creole, bay leaf....etc etc.
In a big old deep pot, pour in a gallon of water. Take about 4 cups of that water out and pour it into a medium sized sauce pan. (For the time being, just place that pot with the rest of the water in the fridge so that it can get nice and cold.) Bring the sauce pan water to a boil. Pour in 3/4 cup of salt and 3/4 cup of sugar into the boiling water. Stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.
Now you need to make sure that water has cooled off...a lot.....before adding it back into the big pot. What I did to speed up this process was to take a large ziplock baggy...fill it up with a bunch of ice and place it into the hot water. In no time that stuff was good and cold. Get the pot out of the fridge, add the salt and sugar water to the pot.
Btw....the salt is important to the process since it's what's gonna do the tenderizing. The sugar will offset the flavor of the salt so you don't end up with a salt lick on bones. The seasonings that you choose are for added flavor. All this put together will be absorbed into the meat of your bird. So choose something you want to taste in every bite....not just on the skin. Choose flavors that you love and will go with the rest of the theme for your dinner. Are you going Asian? Throw in some ginger and soy. Are you in the mood for Mexican? Try some heat....cayenne pepper, cumin, jalapenos. You get the idea....now through in your seasonings of choice into that big old pot of salt water.
Last but not least....submerge the bird. Make sure it is fully covered with water.
If it won't stay down...cover it with plate. Then cover the whole thing with a lid....stick it in the fridge and let it sit.
Up to 12 hours.
See what I mean? You really need to plan ahead. But trust me. It is sooooo worth it.
When you're ready to start dinner...take the bird out of the water...and rinse it
This will remove the excess salt.
Now...the night I cooked the chicken, I didn't have a whole lot of time. In order to speed up the cooking process, I butterflied the bird. Which means I cut out the back bone
and flattened it out. Placed it on a foil lined baking sheet then rubbed it down with oil and seasoned the skin. I used the same seasonings I had used in the brine.
Now that is one sexy bird! Hmmmm....now that I look at her, is it me or does she look like she's trying to plump up her cleavage?
The little hussy.
Toss her in a hot oven...about 375' F for about 45 minutes or until juices run clear.
Allow her to rest a couple of minutes before ripping into her....allowing the juices to redistribute throughout the meat...assuring that every single bite has reached its fullest juicy potential.
I prefer the thigh....the leg just happened to come with it. What part do you prefer?
Well...it don't really matter....no matter what part you like....it will be uber tender and juicy and the most amazing chicken you have ever made.