Brining is a fabulous way of both adding flavour to a chicken and ensuring the flesh stays moist and juicy. This brine infuses the meat with the scents of honey, cloves, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme. One you’ve removed the bird from the brining liquid, pat it dry to ensure the skin becomes as crisp as paper when it goes into the oven. Serve as part of your roast dinner. Leftovers would be perfect to add to soup or sere with rice in a flavoursome risotto.
- For the chicken:
- 1 x 1.75kg free-range chicken
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the brine:
- 4 litres water
- 150g salt
- 100g honey
- 10 bay leaves
- 6 garlic cloves, skin left on, smashed
- 2 tbsp black peppercorns
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- Bunch flat-leaf parsley
- Zest and juice of 2 lemons
Put all the ingredients for the brine in a large pan and bring to a gentle boil. Stir until the salt and honey has dissolved, then turn off the heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, add the chicken to the brine and leave for 6-8 hours.
When you’re read to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 240°C/475°F/Gas Mark 9. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry, inside and out, with kitchen towel. Truss up the legs and wings with some butcher’s string or twine.
Rub the chicken skin with a little sunflower oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 40-45 mins, until the skin is crisp and golden. Check the bird is cooked by piercing the thigh meat with a skewer at the thickest point. If the juices run clear, it’s done.
Serve with roast potatoes, roast carrots and steamed curly kale.
Make a gravy from the chicken juices, by adding some wine, some thyme leaves, and some cornflour mixed into a paste with water, to thicken.