This recipe makes brining worth the effort. It results in some of the most flavorful roasted chicken we’ve ever made.
The volume of kosher salt varies greatly from brand to brand due to the size of the crystals. The two brands mentioned in the recipe, which are the two most widely available, will give you perfect results. Don’t even think of using sea salt or table salt.
MAKE AHEAD The bird needs to be brined in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
FOR THE BRINE
11 cups cold water
1 1/2 cups Diamond Crystal kosher salt OR a heaping 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Morton's kosher salt (about 200 grams; see OVERVIEW)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
2 medium leeks, cleaned and coarsely chopped (see NOTE)
2 medium carrots, scrubbed well and coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
2 dried bay leaves
Leaves from 6 stems thyme
Leaves from 6 sprigs rosemary
9 cups ice cubes
One 4-to-5-pound chicken, giblet/gizzard packet removed
FOR THE CHICKEN
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Freshly ground black pepper
For the brine: Add 3 cups of the cold water to a large Dutch oven or pasta pot. Pour in the salt, sugar and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve, and then turn off the heat.
Meanwhile, add 2 cups of the water to a high-powered blender or food processor. Working in batches as needed, add the onions, leeks, carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary; puree until liquefied.
Add the ice to the pot along with the remaining 6 cups of cold water. Stir until the ice cubes melt and the water is cold. Add the pureed ingredients. Submerge the chicken, cover the pot and refrigerate for 24 hours.
For the chicken: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a rack in a roasting pan.
Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towel. Discard the brine.
Place the bird on the rack in the pan and tie the legs together with kitchen twine, if desired. Brush with the melted butter and season generously with pepper. Roast (middle rack) for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh meat (away from the bone) registers 165 degrees. The skin should be browned and crisped.
Let the chicken sit, loosely tented with aluminum foil, for 15 minutes before carving.
NOTE: Clean the cut leeks by letting them sit in a bowl of ice-cold water for 15 minutes. Lift them out; do not drain.
Adapted from a recipe by David Leite of Leite’s Culinaria.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The ingredients were too variable for a meaningful nutritional analysis.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this recipe gave incorrect equivalent amounts for the two brands of kosher salt.