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Chicken Brined with Spices
Mar 31st, 2005

Bistro cooking is not a style I cook very often. I prefer Asian, Indian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, even Italian flavors over the (to me) heavy flavors of French Bistro food. But the French do have a way with chicken, especially roast chicken, so that's why I picked up this Bistro Chicken cookbook from the library. There are several recipes I want to try, but this was the first to jump out at me (it did, it bit me too!).

Chicken is marinated in a tangy brine of mustard, spices, and wine and then roasted till crispy surrounded by a bed of onions. My only concerns with the recipe are that it came out a bit salty. Generally when you brine meat you rinse off the salty brine solution before cooking. This recipe calls for just patting the bird dry and then rubbing it with salted butter. Next time I would definitely substitute olive oil for the salted butter and really concentrate on getting most of the salt solution off the skin of the bird. I don't think I'd rinse it though as you'd probably lose a lot of the effect of the spices. Slice the onion in thick wedges as well, thin slices will just dissolve in the juices coming off the chicken. To make this on a weeknight, make the marinade the night before and add the chicken to it in the morning before leaving.


Chicken Brined with Spices

1/2 cup coarse sea salt
8 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
4 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 cup white wine
One 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken
1 medium onion, thickly sliced
1 tbsp salted butter, softened


Put the salt, garlic, mustard, cloves, cinnamon, and peppercorns in a large saucepan. Add 5 cups of water and the white wine; stir to blend. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Rinse the inner cavity of the chicken to remove any pooled blood; place the chicken in a large self-sealing plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Squeeze the bag to remove all excess air, bringing the brine up and around the chicken to cover. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Place the onion slices in the bottom of a medium-sized, shallow roasting pan. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. Discard the marinade. Rub the chicken with the butter and place on top of the onion slices. Roast for 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes or until a thermometer reaches 180F when inserted in the thickest portion of the thigh and the juices run clear. Remove the chicken to a platter, surround with the onions, and serve.

-Mary Ellen Evans, Bistro Chicken
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© 2006, Kimberly Cooperrider | kymmco@excite.com