There is almost nothing more satisfying both to cook and to eat than roast chicken. Michael Symon and I continue our debate on whether to brine or not to brine, and I must say that when we had a taste test, even he chose the brined chicken. This is my best roast chicken recipe, perfect for Sunday supper. For very crisp skin, it’s always better to brine the day before and allow the bird to dry in the fridge, uncovered, overnight.–Mario Batali
LC Perfect Brined Chicken Note
“Perfect” is a pretty loaded word. Is this brined chicken recipe perfect? Hmm. Perhaps. It certainly passes muster, regardless of whether one deems it perfect. Care to share your thoughts? Let us know in a comment below.
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 2 H, 30 M
- Serves 4
- For the brine
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 bunch rosemary
- 1/2 cup apple cider (118 ml)
- 2 quarts boiling water (1.89 l)
- 2 quarts ice (1.89 l), [Editor’s Note: You may need to plan ahead to make this much ice!]
- For the roast chicken
- one 3-pound chicken (1.36 kg)
- 1 lemon (237 ml), thinly sliced, preferably organic
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (44 ml)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch thyme
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 6 sprigs marjoram
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- Brine the chicken
- 1. In a plastic container or stainless-steel bowl large enough to hold the chicken, stir the salt, cinnamon, rosemary, and cider together.
- 2. Pour in the boiling water and stir to dissolve.
- 3. Add the ice and stir. Submerge the chicken in the brine. Place a plate on top of the bird to prevent it from floating. You want the chicken to remain completely submerged throughout the brining process.
- 4. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours, but no longer. (If there is any question, always brine for less time, not more.)
- 5. Pour off and discard the brine. Then dry the chicken thoroughly with paper towels.
- 6. If ridiculously crisp skin is desired, place the brined bird on a plate and place in the refrigerator to air-dry, uncovered, for at least another hour or, preferably, overnight.
- Roast the brined chicken
- 7. Preheat the oven to 475°F (246°C). [Editor’s Note: Anytime you crank the oven past 450°F (232°C), you’re going to need to first scrub the inside so as to prevent clouds of smoke from interfering with your ability to read the recipe on your computer screen.]
- 8. Let the brined chicken rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- 9. Carefully slip 1 or 2 slices lemon under the skin of each breast and center it, using your fingertips to gently nudge the skin from the underlying meat without ripping it. Rub the entire chicken with the olive oil. In a small bowl, mix the salt and pepper and season the chicken inside and out with the mixture.
- 10. Cram the thyme, garlic, marjoram, remaining lemon slices, and onion in the chicken’s cavity. [Editor’s Note: This is a lot of stuff to fit in the cavity of a chicken, so trust us when we say that you may need to rely on a little brute force and cram it in there.]
- 11. Place the chicken on a rack set inside a roasting pan. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Continue roasting the chicken until the thigh juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone, registers 160°F (71°C), about 25 to 30 minutes more (or longer if you’re using a larger hen).
- 12. Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter in a warm place and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Carve and serve.
- Unstuffed Brined Chicken
- Omit the thyme, garlic, marjoram, and onion but otherwise follow the recipe instructions above.