Audax of Audax Artifax was our November 2012 Daring Cooks’ host. Audax has brought us into the world of brining and roasting, where we brined meat and vegetables and roasted them afterwards for a delicious meal!
When this month's challenge was announced, I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to do. I have never brined anything before, but I roast things all the time - meats, vegetables... even fruits.
Brining, in case you are not familiar, involves submerging meat (usually) in a salt-solution that imparts both flavor and moisture to the food (usually poultry, sometimes red meat or even nuts).
Now, my kitchen is not huge, and my refrigerator is usually pretty full, as you might imagine, so I wasn't sure how I was going to accomplish the brining aspect of this challenge. I knew I couldn't brine a whole chicken, since I don't have a container big enough to completely submerge one, nor do I have the fridge space to rest a container that size (if I were to have one...). So I knew I would be working with chicken pieces.
The next challenge was that I am not a big fan of salty foods, and brines are generally pretty salt-heavy. But Audax told us that we could play around with our brining solutions, so I searched online until I found a recipe that I knew was the one for me - sweet tea brined chicken.
To make the brine, I started by boiling some water and adding in some tea bags - decaf chai tea, to be exact.
While the tea brined, little man helped me prepare the other ingredients.
Seriously, he was really trying to cut that onion with that plastic toy knife. He's shaping up to be quiet the sous chef!
The onion, along with crushed garlic cloves, a healthy helping of brown sugar, salt (of course) and some herbes de provance, went right into the steeped tea.
Once the sugar and salt were completely dissolved, the brining solution was cooled completely by adding ice cubes, and then it was ready to go. To brine the chicken pieces (leg quarters were my choice), I placed the pieces in gallon-sized zip-top bags (two leg quarters per bag worked well), then divided the brine between the bags. Then I simply zipped the bags, put them in a 9" x 13" pan to hold them steady, and placed the whole thing in the fridge.
While the chicken brined in the fridge, I decide that I'd go all out with our dinner and roast every component. So while the chicken did its thing, I prepared our vegetable (broccoli, with some coarsely chopped onion for good measure) and starch (sweet potatoes, to pair with the sweet tea brine) for roasting.
And then everything went into the oven. Well, at staggered times - meat first, then potatoes, then broccoli (I've roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli before, so I had an idea of the timing...).
And the results?
Delicious. I was so amazed with the color on the chicken - the tea really helped it, I think. And the meat was so tender and moist - the brining really did make a difference. It didn't add as much flavor as I'd hoped, but I still thought that it was worth the extra planning and time. And the sweet potatoes and broccoli completed the meal deliciously.
Audax, thanks for giving me the opportunity to try a new technique and for presenting such a detailed and well thought out challenge!
To see the other dishes prepared in the Daring Kitchen this month, check them out here.
Sweet Tea Brined Chicken
(slightly adapted from baked bree)
2 family sized tea bags
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon Herbes de Provence
2 cups ice cubes
3-4 pounds chicken pieces (I used leg quarters)
Boil 4 cups of water, add tea bags, and steep for 10 minutes.
Stir in sugar and salt until completely dissolved. Add onion, garlic, and spices. Add ice and cool completely. Put the chicken into plastic bags and let sit in the brine for 24 hours.
Take the chicken out of the brine, and throw the brine away. Dry the chicken off with paper towels.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Roast the chicken at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and continue roasting for 30-40 minutes more, until the chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.
Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes prior to serving.