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Brined Roast Chicken with Wine Jus

Brined Roast Chicken with Wine Jus
Brining poultry and meats before roasting is an age-old technique that adds moisture and enhances taste. Despite the saltiness of the brine, the result is not an overly salty bird but rather increased juiciness and a fuller flavor. The optimum soaking time for a large roasting chicken is 4 hours, but even a shorter time in the brine will make a flavorful difference. Accompany the chicken with roasted mixed vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots and onions.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup kosher salt or 1/2 cup iodized or plain salt
  • 1 quart hot water
  • 3 quarts cold water
  • 1 chicken, about 6 1/2 lb., giblets reserved for another use
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  •    

For the wine jus:

  • 1/2 cup crisp, dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbs. chilled unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a plastic container or stainless-steel bowl large enough to hold the chicken, stir and dissolve the salt in the hot water. Add the cold water and stir. Rinse the chicken, then submerge it in the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours, the longer the better.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Rub with the butter and season inside and out with pepper. Place the thyme and rosemary sprigs in the cavity.

Place the chicken on its side on a V-shaped rack in a roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken on its other side and roast for 30 minutes more. Turn the chicken on its back and place the onion, carrot and celery in the cavity. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone, registers 170°F, about 45 minutes more. Pour the juices from the chicken cavity into the pan and transfer the chicken to a warmed platter. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the wine jus. Strain the cooking juices into a bowl. Skim off any visible fat from the surface and pour the juices back into the roasting pan. Set the pan on 2 burners over medium-high heat. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the stock and boil until the liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the jus into a sauceboat.

Carve the chicken and serve hot with the wine jus.
Serves 6 to 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Simon & Schuster, 2001).