A Brined Bird with Soup a la Dave

My little brother and I had our older brother and sister-in-law over for dinner on Sunday, and we decided to roast a chicken. Roasted chicken seems like the perfect Sunday dinner to me....it's delicious, and it fills the house with wonderful smells all afternoon as it's cooking. We'd both heard good things about brining chicken, so we decided to try it.

For the first course we had a pureed root vegetable soup that Dave had made the night before. I wasn't even home when he made it, but he took some pictures, so I figured I'd put them up.

Dave tends to cook almost everything in his trusty cast iron skillet, which is not a bad way to go. He started with half a red onion from the farmer's market....

...added a bunch of potatoes (also from the market.) There's some regular red potatoes here, and also a red rose, or similar red fleshed variety. They seem to cook and taste like regular potatoes, but the color is just beautiful!

Next he added spices - cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves I think? Plus some hot sauce to spice it up.

Next came some local carrots....

He added some pre-made (Imagine brand I think) organic butternut squash soup and cooked it all till it was soft and puree-able. The Imagine soups are good, but I probably would have used some plain chicken broth....oh well, if he's cooking and it tastes good, I won't complain!

And here it is - Nice job Dave!!

Mid-day Sunday, we started brining the chicken. We bought it frozen at the farmer's market on Saturday. It was still a little icy on Sunday morning, but we decided to start the brining anyway. It's supposed to brine for 4-12 hours, and we didn't want to cut it too short.

The most simple brine is salt and water, but we decided to jazz it up a bit. We used salt, sucanat, a local shallot, bay leaves, ginger, some Good Earth tea (a sweet/spicy herbal tea) and about four cups of local apple cider.

We combined all this, plus about two quarts of water on the stove and let it boil for a few minutes. It made a really crazy looking witches-brew like concoction that smelled wonderful.

Once the liquid had cooled a little, in went the chicken. It floated to the top, so we put a wooden cutting board over the top to weigh it down.

After about five hours of brining, I pulled the chicken out and got it ready for the oven. It was hard to tell if the brine had done anything, it looked like a regular chicken to me, but as it started to cook, you could smell apple cider and spices. I started it off pretty hot (450) for about 15 minutes, then turned it down to 350 for the remaining time. I also turned it several times while it was cooking so it would get evenly browned. Since it wasn't stuffed it didn't take too long to cook - just about two hours.

At about the halfway point I pulled it out and added some red cipollini onions and little roasting potatoes from the farmer's market.

And here's the finished product! The apple cider caramelized on the skin - just beautiful!

The first course was soup - spicy, and hearty.....

Followed by chicken and potatoes. The flesh was just delicious - you could really taste the subtle flavors of apple cider, ginger, and spices. Not bad for our first dinner party in our new house!
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  1. I can't believe I didn't think an iron skillet would work on an electric stove... I need a new skillet; I want an iron one.

  2. Oh yes, cast iron is good for so many things - everyone should have a good cast iron skillet! Just make sure you season it well and never ever ever use soap to wash it - just hot water.


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