Brining (Daring Cooks Challenge Nov 2012)

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!

I’ve had a bit of a break from the Daring Cooks but couldn’t resist giving this one a go! I threw in a few herbs & spices into the salt bath – looked very pretty but not sure if it did anything to the flavour as I only marinated them for 1 ½ hrs (was pushed for time). However, once roasted the chicken was delicious and tender. I’ll definitely be using this method again!

Chicken legs marinating in a salt bath, pink peppercorns, rose buds, star anise and cinnamon.

Ready to put into the oven

And out of the oven – skin was pink but cooked through! flesh was super tender and delicious!

Recipe Source: The brine and roast chicken used are traditional recipes used in my family for many generations. The roast vegetable recipe is from my own family cookbook.

Equipment required:
non-reactive container for the brine
roasting pans or trays

Challenge Recipes
I have included one all-purpose brine recipe, a roast chicken recipe and a roast vegetable recipe.

Recipe One – All-Purpose Brine:

Makes 4 cups of brine enough for about one pound (½ kg) of meat

This is the brine to use for most cuts of meat and poultry that will be roasted.

Ingredients
4 cups (1 litre) of cold water (see note 1)
¼ cup (70 gm) table salt or ½ cup (70 gm) Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
optional 2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) sugar (see note 2)
optional 3-4 peppercorns, a few springs of herbs, a garlic clove or two, a knob of ginger etc. (see note 3)

Instructions
1. Heat 1 cup of water to boiling point add the salt and stir until all the salt has totally dissolved.
2. Place in a non-reactive container (glass, plastic, stainless steel, zip-lock bags etc). Add the remaining water and stir. Make sure that all the salt has dissolved. Wait until the brine has reached room temperature.
3. Add your cut of meat make sure that the meat is completely submerged (that is totally covered in the salty water) if need be you can weigh down the cut of meat with a clean plate (etc). If using plastic bags make sure that the meat is totally covered in brine and make sure that is bag is locked securely.
4. Cover the container with plastic wrap to prevent odours contaminating the flavour brine or the brine leaking.
5. Place the container into the refrigerator for the soaking time suggested by the guidelines above.
6. If desired you can air-dry your poultry (usually over night) in the refrigerator if you wish to have crispy skin on your bird. It is best to pat dry your brined item (inside and out) with paper towels before cooking.
7. Cook the brined item as directed by the roasting guidelines above.

Notes
1. You can replace all or some of the water with a combination of wine, cider, beer, tea, coffee, fruit juice, most sauces (tomato, soya, BBQ, chilli etc), chicken stock, beef stock or fish stock. Be careful with acidic liquids like wine, cider, fruit juices which can turn your meat to mush if brined too long.
2. A little sugar can help overcome the saltiness of the brine and helps to give a nice sheen to your piece of meat when roasted. You can use up to ¼ cup of sugar (use the lesser amount (2 tablespoons) for high temperature roasting since the brine can burn at high heats if you use too much sugar). You can use brown sugar or honey or other sweeteners if you wish.
3. Any combination of spices and herbs can be used to flavour the brine. Garlic powder, onion powder and ginger powder are excellent to use for brining.

Recipe Two – Roast Brined Chicken
Serves four to six people

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken (organic is best) about 2 kg (4 ½ pounds)
Enough brine (see recipe above) to cover the chicken in a large non-reactive container

Directions:

1. Brine the whole chicken in the flavoured brine in the refrigerator overnight about 6 hours can be overnight. (Make sure that every part of the chicken is covered in the brine you can weigh the bird down with a clean plate so it is completely submerged.
2. Discard the brine and dry the skin and inside of the bird with paper towels.
3. If you desire crispy skin then leave the bird on a rack for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator so the skin can dry.
4. Preheat oven to moderately hot 220°C/425°F/gas 7.
5. Roast for 15 minutes.
6. Reduce oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and roast for a further 12-15 minutes per 450 grams/pound, You can check for done-ness the internal temperature should be 165°F/84°C, or the juices should run clear when you pierce the bird between the leg and thigh.
7. Rest for approximately 30 minutes covered loosely in foil.

Recipe Three – Roast Vegetables
Serves six people

For best results use the largest shallow heavy-weight roasting pan you have and make sure that the vegetable are well spaced out in the pan and only form one layer, use two trays if necessary. A very hot oven 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9 is the key to roasting vegetables. Only toss the vegetables once or twice during cooking. For lighter-weight vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli or cut corn add it to the pan 15 minutes later, so it doesn’t get too brown. Greens like kale and mustard greens are done in only 15 minutes. Root vegetables should be cut into cubes of about one-inch (2½ cm). You can add a small amount of apricot fruit spread or honey in the last 10 minutes to enhance the caramelising process. Fresh basil, rosemary and thyme are best when used fresh. Curry, paprika and turmeric are also great. Grated ginger or crushed garlic can also be added.

 

Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash (pumpkin), cubed
2 red bell peppers (capsicums), seeded and sliced
1 orange sweet potato, peeled and cubed OR 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced lengthways
3 Yukon Gold (or any baking) potatoes, cubed
1 red onion, quartered
optional 1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
2. In a large bowl, combine the squash, red bell peppers, sweet potato, red onion and Yukon Gold potatoes and the optional garlic if using.
3. In a small bowl, stir together thyme, rosemary, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss with vegetables until they are coated. Spread evenly on a large roasting pan.
4. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring one or twice, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned. If using a smaller tray the vegetables will take about 50-60 minutes.

3 responses to “Brining (Daring Cooks Challenge Nov 2012)

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