I love chicken. It’s such a versatile food. Chicken enchiladas. Chicken curry. Barbecued chicken. Fried chicken. Chicken stir fry. However, I’ve also been subjected to a lot of bad chicken. Especially chicken breast. For quite some time, my wife and I avoided chicken breast, however, when I discovered sous vide cooking, our love for chicken (and chicken breast) was reignited. When my box of locally grown produce arrived and I discovered fresh sage, I immediately pulled a whole chicken from my freezer.
I have come to terms with the fact that the best things in life require time. And patience. This may never be more true than when it comes to food. Perhaps the delayed gratification makes the payoff that much better. Or maybe the intentionality of a long preparation naturally encourages the finesse and care that a hastily thrown together meals lack. And the flavors you can develop. This recipe is very easy, but requires at least 24 hours; 2 or 3 days makes it even better. That may sound intimidating, but don’t be fooled. It may take a few days, but really its all about planning and about an hour of active time on your part. The rest is just waiting, building anticipation for what will be a fantastic meal.
You’ll need 3 “special” things for this: a container to brine in (I prefer the same 6L round container I use to store my sorghum flour mix – well not the same one), a pan for drying the chicken (I prefer a quarter sheet pan with rack), and a roasting pan (it doesn’t get much better than my “magic pot” – the Staub 7 quart cocotte).
It starts with the brine. You need to heat the water to dissolve the salt and then allow it to cool before you place the chicken in it. Then brine the chicken for 8-12 hours. Remove the chicken from the brine, and allow the skin to dry in the refrigerator (for that crispy skin that EVERYONE loves) 1-3 days. Temper, truss, and roast!
Paired with a good chardonnay or pinot noir, I think this would make an unbelievable at-home date night. You’re not going to believe how delicious and easy this is! The chicken breast melts in your mouth.
- Chicken Brine
- 1 leek
- 1 medium onion
- 2-3 carrots
- ~1lb of potatoes (red, yukon gold, creamers, or fingerling)
- 1 lemon, sliced
- Canola Oil
- ~6 Tbsp Butter
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 22 sage leaves, finely chopped
- Whole Chicken (3-4 lbs)
- Ensure the neck and innards have been removed from the cavity of your chicken. Trim any excess skin or fat from the cavity opening. I tend to forget, but if you use a paring knife and remove the wishbone at this point, the chicken will be much easier to carve when it’s time.
- Prepare and chill the brine. Place the chicken in the brine, ensuring it’s fully submerged, and return the refrigerator for 8-12 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the brine (do NOT rinse) and place on a sheet pan with a rack, breast side up. Discard the brine.
- Pat the exterior of the chicken dry with a paper towel. Return the refrigerator, uncovered, for 2-3 days to dry the skin.
- 1.5 – 2 hours before you’re ready to begin roasting the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator to temper (allow it to return to room temperature).
- Chop the carrots, onion, leek, and potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes and place them in the bottom of your roasting pan. Lay the lemon slices over the top of the vegetables.
- Season the vegetables with salt. Pour 1-2 Tbsp of canola oil over the vegetables. Mix with your hands to ensure the oil and salt has coated the vegetables evenly.
- Preheat your oven to 450F(475F).
- Allow your butter to soften for 5-10 mins, then mix the garlic and sage into the butter.
- Work most of the butter mixture between the breast meat and the skin. Reserve 1-2 Tbsp of the butter mixture.
- Using butcher twine, truss the bird to ensure even cooking of the meat.
- Rub the remaining butter mixture on the drumsticks and thighs and place the chicken into the roasting pan on top of the vegetables.
- Place the pan in the oven, uncovered, and roast for ~25 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees after 12-15 mins.
- Leaving the chicken in the oven, reduce the temperature to 375F(400F) and roast for an additional 30-45 minutes. Cook the chicken until the juices run clear from the joint between the thigh and the drumstick or until the thickest portion of the thigh has reached an internal temperature of 160F.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and allow it to rest, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes.
- Remove the lemon slices from the pan. When ready to eat, reheat the vegetables (if necessary) over medium heat, stirring to ensure they’re coated in the jus.
- Carve the chicken and serve.