Citrus Brined Roasted Chicken

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Do you need a special meal for Thanksgiving, but not enough people around to warrant roasting an entire turkey? There is nothing wrong with that, and I have been in that position before. While it’s not the best scenario celebrating the holidays without extended family, making a special meal is sometimes better than going out. Our first Thanksgiving away from family was the worst on record, and I never want to experience that again. We lived in a tiny city in Texas and the only place open that day was a buffet – yuck! We had no choice because I didn’t cook back then like I do now…live and learn, right?

Roast chicken is made even better with a tad more effort; and I can’t get over how much better chicken tastes once it has been brined! My husband took a bite and was confused because of the orange flavor, because he wasn’t expecting it. It was so juicy and flavorful that I’m not sure I’ll be able to skip brining next time.¬†I have tried one other recipe before, but I concocted this recipe myself after searching around for ratios of water to salt to weight. Citrus and chicken make a winning combination, and the idea went from there. Thanks for reading, enjoy! ūüôā

Citrus Brined Roast Chicken – a Mom-Makes original

  • 3-4 lb. whole chicken
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar or honey
  • 4 quarts water
  • 1/2 lemon – juiced and zested (*save the other half for roasting*)
  • 1/2 orange – juiced and zested (*save the other half for roasting*)
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed

Directions –

Heat 2 quarts of water in a small pot. Once the water simmers, add your salt and sugar Рstir until dissolved. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse your chicken and remove anything inside the cavity (giblets, liver, ect).  Place your chicken in a large lidded container (mine holds 6 quarts of liquid) or a heavy-duty plastic bag. Add the citrus, garlic, spices and herbs. Pour the cold water and then the dissolved salt/sugar mixture. Cover and refrigerate of 8 hours or overnight.

*About an hour before roasting, take the chicken out of the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Set it on a sheet pan and place it uncovered in the refrigerator so the skin can dry out a little.

**Citrus and Herb Butter –

  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • heavy pinch of kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp of fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon and orange zest
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions –

Place butter in a small bowl.  Using a fork, mash until softened.  Add salt and pepper and mash to incorporate.  Add olive oil, zest and rosemary and stir to combine.

Roasting Directions –

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the other half of lemon and orange in the cavity, and garlic or shallot if you have it. Truss chicken and coat generously with the citrus butter. Add salt and pepper to taste and place in roasting pan or a foil lined sheet pan; insert probe thermometer into the thickest part of one of the breasts. Roast the chicken until the thermometer reads 155-160 degrees, (about 70-75 minutes with my convection roast setting). Once the desired temperature is reached, loosely cover with foil and let rest for 15-20 minutes. Carve, serve and enjoy!

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Brined, Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter

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Yum! This was worth the effort and my neighbors, aka The Guinea Pigs, loved it too. It is way better than your average roast chicken and perfect for company. I prepared two, four pound chickens for dinner and we all enjoyed the white meat. It was the most succulent and tender meat I have ever had – like¬†buttah! ūüėČ I’m going to use the dark meat for chicken noodle soup once I make the chicken stock with the bones. If there is any meat left, then M can have it for his¬†fave chicken salad sandwich. I will make this again for my family when I’m feeling extra generous…or I just want really amazing roast chicken. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Brined and Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter Рheavily adapted from Ad Hoc at Home via Jun-Blog

Brine:

  • 20¬†cups water, divided
  • 3/4¬†cup Kosher salt
  • 5 TBSP sugar
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 6 cloves garlic, halved at equator
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 TBSP peppercorns
  • 2 whole chickens

Herb Butter:

  • 2¬†sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature (freeze the leftover herb¬†butter)
  • 1 TBSP fresh, chopped rosemary
  • 1 TBSP fresh, chopped thyme
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

*special equipment –

brining bag, or a two gallon Ziploc bag, kitchen string, probe thermometer, roasting pan or half sheet pan

Directions –

Add all the brine ingredients and half the water to a large pot. Bring to boil, and stir to dissolve salt, then remove from heat and chill completely. Once brine is cold, add the remaining water and chicken then refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, prepare the herb butter – in a small bowl, mix together the softened butter and fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Next, remove the chicken from the brine, rinse and pat dry. If you have time, let chickens dry uncovered in the refrigerator for a few hours. Truss chickens and coat generously with the herb butter, (I only used a few tablespoons per chicken). Add salt and pepper to taste and place in roasting pan, insert probe thermometer into the thickest part of one of the breasts. Roast the chicken until the thermometer reads 160-165 degrees, (about 70-75 minutes with my convection roast setting).

Once the desired temperature is reached, loosely cover with foil and let rest for 15-20 minutes. Carve, serve and enjoy!

I Can Hardly Wait!


After two years of making this huge spread for TG, I have learned (the hard way) what to do in advance to make this as stress free as possible.¬†Today I started the brine for our turkey! It’s a simple step that really makes all the difference in your finished bird. I never craved turkey until I made this recipe, but this always comes out juicy and flavorful. Every year I have made it, I have used the 10 gallon Ziploc bag, and my 12 quart stock pot to contain the beast! It’s a nerve-racking workout to place this safely and cleanly into the fridge ūüôā

Over the weekend, I prepared my brioche dough for the brioche and sausage dressing and the herb butter is sitting pretty in the freezer ( I used a stick and a half of butter instead of three). Tomorrow my plan is to bake off the brioche and roast several bulbs of garlic. Wednesday I will prepare the dressing, make the dinner rolls and take the turkey out of the brine. Thanksgiving day, I will prepare this ham in the crock pot, roast the turkey, make the roasted garlic mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and bake off the dressing. It’s lists like this that makes me wish for two ovens! ¬†Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!

Re-Post: Brined Herb-Crusted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy and Brioche and Sausage Dressing

My husband suggested I repost the recipes that I made for Thanksgiving last year. This post has had a major spike in popularity ūüôā This is the turkey we’re having this year – it’s so worth the effort and ingredient list! I’m also making the brioche and sausage dressing because it was amazing, and again well worth the effort and wait. I hope you all have a Thanksgiving full of family, friends and great food! Thanks for reading, enjoy ūüôā

Brined Herb-Crusted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy –¬†adapted from Anne Burrell

Brine –

  • 7 quarts water
  • 1 quart apple cider
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 head garlic, cut in 1/2 equatorially
  • 1/2 bunch fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 bunch fresh sage
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 (12 to 14 pound) turkey

Herb Crust –

  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh sage, leaves finely chopped
  • 3 sticks butter, room temperature
  • Kosher salt

Gravy ‚Äď

  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon¬†stick
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 quart chicken stock, divided
  • 2 cups apple cider, divided
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Special equipment: butcher’s twine

To brine the turkey: Combine all of the ingredients for the brine in a large container. Add the turkey and let it brine in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

To prepare the turkey for cooking: Remove the turkey from the brine the night before roasting and pat it thoroughly dry with paper towels. Combine the rosemary, sage, and butter for the herb crust in a small bowl. Season, to taste, with kosher salt. Work the butter under the skin of the turkey and massage it into the breasts and the legs. Massage the bitter on the outside of the skin as well. Tie the legs together over the breast so they will protect it during cooking and help keep it moist and juicy.

Gravy preparation: Put the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, apples, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and thyme in a roasting pan and season with salt. Arrange the turkey on top of the veggies and refrigerate overnight UNCOVERED! Yes, that’s right, uncovered. This will help the skin dry out and become really brown and crispy. Make sure that there is no raw food near the turkey in the refrigerator. After refrigerating overnight, the turkey is ready to go in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Put 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup apple cider in the bottom of the roasting pan. Roast the turkey in the preheated oven until the skin gets really nice and brown, about 40 minutes. Lower the oven heat to 350 degrees F for the remainder of the cooking time. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes or so and add more stock to the roasting pan, if needed. Cook about 17 minutes per pound. Once it gets to the proper color, tent the turkey with aluminum foil to prevent it from getting too dark.

Remove the turkey from the oven when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the turkey registers 160 degrees F. Make sure that the thermometer is not touching a bone when doing the reading. When the turkey has reached the proper temperature, remove it from the roasting pan to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Strain all the veggies over a bowl to separate them from the stock/mixture. Discard the veggies. Skim off the fat and add it to the roasting pan. This is the fat for the roux. Put the roasting pan over 2 burners and over a low heat and whisk in the flour. Cook until the mixture looks like wet sand, about 4 to 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the remaining 1 cup apple cider, remaining chicken stock and the stock/cider mixture. Cook until the mixture has thickened and reached a gravy consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour into a serving pitcher or bowl.

Carve the turkey, transfer to a serving platter and serve with the gravy.

Cook’s Note: Don’t fight over the drumsticks.

Give thanks for such a great turkey!!!

*Basic Brioche – The Bread Bible

Dough Starter –

  • 2 TBSP room temperature water
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg

*Make the starter one to two days ahead. In a mixing bowl, add ingredients and mix until very smooth. Cover with plastic wrap.

Flour Mixture –

  • 5.5 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 TBSP room temperature butter

1. Combine first four ingredients and pour on top of the starter, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

2. Using a standing mixer, add eggs and mix on low speed for about a minute until evenly moistened. Raise speed to medium and beat for two minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with an oiled rubber scraper, then continue beating for five minutes longer or until the dough is smooth and shiny but very soft and sticky. It wont pull away from the bowl completely.

3. Add the butter one TBSP at a time until all incorporated. The dough will be soft and sticky. Lightly oil top and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

4. Chill – refrigerate for one hour, then gently deflate with rubber spatula, then return it to the refrigerator for another hour.

5. Deflate/Chill – turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Press or roll into a rectangle, flour as needed. Give the dough a business letter turn, brushing off excess flour. Rotate 90 degrees so the closed side faces left. Make a second business turn and round the corners. Dust it lightly on all sides with flour. Wrap loosely but securely with plastic wrap and place in a large ziploc bag. Refrigerate of at least six hours and up to two days.

6. ¬†Shape/Rise – remove from fridge and gently press down to deflate. Roll/press into a 7 1/2″ by 5″ wide rectangle. Roll down from top in three turns, being sure to brush off the excess flour. Place seam side down in a prepared 8×4 inch loaf pan pressing down firmly. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise until the dough reaches the top of the pan – about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack on the lowest position of the oven and place a baking stone or a baking sheet on the rack.

8. Glaze/Slash/Bake – glaze the top of the loaf with a mixture of one egg yolk and a splash of cream or milk. Slash the top of the loaf 1/4″ to 1/2″ deep lengthwise down the loaf, making sure to leave 1″ at each end. Set on hot stone and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees.

9. Cool – un-mold loaf to cool on a wire rack at least two hours before cutting.

*Sausage Brioche Dressing Рadapted from Food Network

  • 1¬†brioche¬†loaf, cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound¬†pork¬†breakfast¬†sausage
  • 4¬†celery¬†ribs, halved lengthwise and cross cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 4 cups¬†stock
  • 1/4 cup chopped¬†sage¬†leaves
  • Kosher salt¬†and fresh ground black pepper

Directions –

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Spread the brioche on a baking sheet and put it in the oven until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Set aside in a large bowl.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the sausage and break it into pieces with a spoon. Cook until browned, then transfer it to the bowl with the brioche. Add the celery to the sausage drippingsand cook until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Put the sausage into the brioche bowl. Stir in the stock and sage and mix until the brioche absorbs most of the liquid. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the dressing to a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and cook, uncovered for 20 minutes. Cover with foil and bake until golden brown on top, another 20 to 25 minutes.