If you’ve ever wanted to brine a turkey, but were put off by the idea of a 15 lb carcass bathing in a tub in your refrigerator all night long (probably during a time when fridge space is already at such a premium), why not start with a gateway fowl, like chicken instead? It’s smaller, cheaper, tastier, and can be prepared as a Sunday dinner treat. Sure, you have to start the night before AND get your head in the game 3 hours before the cooking process begins on the day of, but trust me, these are things you can do with a glass of wine in your hand and another 2 that have already gone down the hatch.
BA’s Best: Roast Chicken
Taken from BA’s Best arsenal, with the most minor of tweaks here and there
5 oz kosher salt (heaping ½ cup, or 1 cup if using Diamond Crystal)
¼ cup white sugar
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 lemon, halved
1 chicken, roughly 2 ½ - 3 lb (1.1 - 1.3 kg)
1 ½ lb baby yellow potatoes, cut in half
1 lb shallots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise if larger than a ping pong ball
2 tbsp olive oil
The night before you want to roast this, place the salt, sugar, and peppercorns in a large pot and pour in 2 quarts of water (about 2 litres). Squeeze in as much lemon juice as you can and add the lemon halves. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt crystals. Take the liquid off the heat, pour into the deepest pot that you have and let sit for 1 minute. Pour in 2 quarts of ice water and ice cubes. Stir to dissolve the ice cubes. Submerge the chicken in the water, using a plate if needed to weigh down. Cover the pot with a lid and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
At least 3 hours prior to roasting, remove the chicken from the brine and pat thoroughly dry with paper towels, shaking out any liquid caught inside the cavity. Discard the brine. Lay a double layer of paper towel down in a shallow dish or plate and place the chicken on it. Chill the chicken, uncovered, for at least 3 hours, and up to 12. The longer the better as the skin dries out more and becomes crispier in the oven.
Place a rack on the highest shelf of the oven (or the second highest in my case as the top rack basically grazes the broiler) and another rack on the lowest shelf. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange the potatoes and shallots on a lined baking sheet that just allows them to fit in a single layer. Toss with the olive oil, a good pinch of salt, and freshly ground pepper. Place the veggies on the lower rack of the oven. Now here’s where you can pick a choose-your-own-adventure card: you can either place the chicken in a baking dish/sheet to roast OR you can place the chicken directly on the top oven rack, sans vessel. I chose to do the former, but only because I have the world’s most sensitive smoke detector and a chicken sputtering and dripping directly on the rack would surely set it off even more than it already does. I would advocate for doing the latter option if at all possible, since it just automatically gives you so much more exposed skin to crisp up. Either way, let the chicken and veggies roast for ~40 minutes, checking every 15-20 minutes to make sure that the bottom of the potatoes and shallots are not burning. Try to avoid stirring or disturbing the vegetables otherwise in any way. I would recommend occasionally basting your chicken in its own juices if you are not roasting it directly on the oven rack.
**If you find that your vegetables brown up a lot more quickly than your chicken hits temp, take them out and then pop them back in a couple of minutes before the chicken is done roasting.
Once 40 minutes (or so) have elapsed, place a meat thermometer into the chicken at the thickest part of the thigh. Most likely, unless your chicken was tiny and your oven very powerful, you will need to keep cooking the chicken until it hits an internal temperature of 165 degrees (do not look at the recommended temperatures for poultry on the thermometer – the chicken will continue to cook later on when you rest it). Whenever your chicken hits ~ 165 degrees, use the handle of a long wooden spoon to tip the cavity downward and carefully drain all the deliciously briny chicken juices onto the vegetables. Carefully transfer the chicken to rest breast-side-up on the potatoes and shallots. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 FULL minutes before carving.
Once the chicken has rested, carve it according to the video shown here. Transfer the potatoes and shallots to a serving platter and place the chicken parts over top attractively. Eat a crispy little nub of potato and a piece of skin that no one will miss. Yaaaaaassss.