Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Thyme, and Garlic

I’ve realized that I’ve been posting an avalanche of dessert recipes lately.  I promise I’m not adopting some secret sugar-only fad diet (now that would be the ideal life, wouldn’t it?), but I think you’ve probably figured out by now that I have a sweet tooth and indulge once in a while for good measure.  Alright, maybe a little too often.

So after a number of posts that leave your teeth aching in pain, it only makes sense that I share a savory recipe with you to redeem myself.  And here it is…a whole, roasted chicken, one of my absolute favorite things to cook!  Brining poultry adds flavor and moisture to the meat, especially if it needs to be cooked in either high heat (as in grilling or deep-frying) or for long period of time.  Once you learn the brining method, you can adapt it for multiple purposes.  You can use it for turkey, Cornish hen, or chicken pieces if you don’t want to roast the entire chicken.  It works really well with skinless, boneless chicken breast, too, which tends to dry out during cooking.

Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Thyme, and Garlic
(serves 6 to 8)

8 cups water
½ cup kosher salt
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
2 tsp dried thyme or 4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 small yellow onion, cut into wedges
1 lemon, cut into pieces
1 chicken, 6 to 7 lb, thoroughly rinsed and giblets removed

Bring water to boil in a pot, and add salt, sugar, peppercorns, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme.  Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved, and then turn off heat.  Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

Place the chicken in a large bowl, stock pot, or a large heavy duty ziplock bag, and pour in the cooled brine.  Add the lemon and onion slices.  Let the chicken submerge in the brine, covered, and in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

After the brining time is up, remove the bird from the liquid, drain and pat dry.  Preheat the oven to 425°F and position a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Truss legs with cooking twine and tuck wings under bird.  Roast the chicken breast side up until a meat thermometer inserted into the inner thigh registers 165°F.  When done, remove the chicken from the oven, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

*To test for doneness without a meat thermometer, make a small cut in the chicken thigh.  It is done when the juices are running clear.

*Trussing is an optional step, but it makes the chicken easier to handle.  Sometimes, I cut the lemon and onion into large chunks and stuff them into the cavity before roasting, and trussing helps everything stay inside.

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