While Charcutepalooza February was a month of bacon, our March challenge was brining. A salty, sugary, herby filled bath that will infuse the meat with flavour and result in the juiciest, most flavourful meat you have ever come across. I really wanted to take up the challenge of corned beef but travelling didn't really allow for that and I certainly can't really complain as 5 weeks jaunting around the UK with a little side trip to Amsterdam and Paris is not to be sniffed at. So on my return to New Zealand there will be more brining and brisket to be corned.
In the meantime Charucterie traveled with me and I wait with anticipation for the next challenge. Mum and Dad are on hand for a trip to the local butcher, so on arrival in Scotland it will be all go for the April challenge.
My first foray in to brining was pork and some beautiful organic free range pork steaks from Freedom Farms which you can read about here. Suffice to say they were a hit, possibly even the "best pork ever" to quote.
For the challenge proper I decided on roast chicken, nothing really beats the comfort of a Sunday roast. And a little comfort has certainly been required with recent events around the world. The brining does take a little time but it is by no means difficult. Everything is thrown in a saucepan large enough to hold the chicken and heated through to dissolve the salt and sugar and to allow all the flavours to infuse the brine. It then needs to be completely cooled before the chicken is submerged in its briny bath for about 8 -12 hours depending on the size of the chook and then allowed a few hours R&R before being popped in to the oven.
Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken
Pre heat oven to 200C /400F
1 brined chicken, though sans brining it would still be good
2 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
2 tbsp thyme, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
1 lemon, sliced
A little extra butter
Mix together the butter, parsley, thyme, garlic, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and pepper. Smear the butter mixture under the chicken skin over the breasts, give it a good massage in to the chicken. Squeeze in a few lemon slices under the skin as well. Any left over slices can be stuffed in to the cavity.
Season the chicken well with a good sprinkle of salt and pepper and dot with a few knobs of butter.
Place the chicken in the oven and turn the temperature down to 190C / 375F. Roast for 1 1/2 hours or until the juices run clear and the chicken is crisp and golden. Brining does mean the skin browns faster so it is about to become a little more burned than bronzed just cover with some tin foil. Make sure to let the chicken rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.
Served up with some golden and crispy duck fat roasted potatoes it is the ultimate comfort food. For fail proof, crispy on the outside fluffy on the inside I have to give thanks to Nigella. The secret is in tossing the par boiled potatoes with semolina. I kid you not.
Roast Potatoes, courtesy of the Domestic Goddess herself
This is adapted only slightly. Nigella uses goose fat and I have duck fat. Nigella pretty much completely submerges her potatoes in the goose fat, I use a couple of good tablespoons of duck fat and give the spuds a good toss to coat. I am not one to really count the calories but total immersion seems a little much when you can get all the flavour and crunch from just a tablespoon or so. No real ingredient list as such bar potatoes, salt, semolina and duck fat. Be sure to add in a few more potatoes than you think you would normally need as these are seriously good spuds and sure to disappear.
Pre heat oven to 190C /375C
Peel and cut the potatoes in to wedges. You are aiming for triangle like shapes as you want maximum surface area for maximum crunch. Boil in salted water for about 10 minutes, drain and give then a good toss in the sieve to rough them up a bit, again going for maximum golden crispiness. Place back in the saucepan and toss together with a few tablespoons of semolina. You want the potatoes to be coated all over in a semolina crumb.
Place the duck fat in a roasting dish and place in the oven for a few minutes to allow the fat to heat up. You want sizzle when you toss the potatoes in the oil. Remove the roasting tin from the oven and place the potatoes in to it and toss to coat them all over. Season with a good sprinkle of salt. Place in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour until crisp and golden.
Once you try these roast spuds there will be no going back, they have such a crisp golden crust enveloping the fluffy potato inside. No matter how many you make it is unlikely that there will be any leftovers.
|The cutest little pumpkin.|
The chicken was tender, juicy and full of flavour. So much flavour, and that is the wonderful alchemy of brining, it seasons all the way through and ensures the most succulent of meat. With some crunchy roast potatoes and steamed broccoli and a little roasted pumpkin, comfort food indeed and perfect for late, lazy Sunday lunch.