We brined our first poultry for Thanksgiving and it was amazing. Since then we’ve been brining all of our chickens and they are pretty out of this world. It’s the easiest thing to do and basically guarantees a super juicy a delicious bird.
- Add a gallon of water to a stock pot
- Pour 1 cup kosher salt, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3 bay leaves, a handful of peppercorns, 2 cloves chopped garlic and a generous sprinkling of red pepper flakes to the water. If you have a lemon on hand, cut that in half and add to the water (a few squirts of lemon juice will also work)
- Heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved and allow to cool fully
- Add bird and allow to marinate – at least 4 hours (I like to leave the stock pot on the deck outside in the winter all day)
When the bird is done, remove it from the water and pat dry. Season as you would normally, but omitting the salt (it’s already salted). Cook as you would a roasted chicken and be amazed. Yum.
I know, I know. Everyone has a different favorite barbeque technique to the point where fights ensue, but this is my favorite and what I grew up with. The sauce we use is popularly known as Chiavettas in the Western New York area, and many people I know buy it by the gallon and import it to wherever they have relocated to (I get it – we ship hot dogs 4000 miles. Sahlen’s are so worth it). It’s not the typical red BBQ sauce we tend to stereotypically associate with grilled meat, but it’s still damn tasty.
- 1 cup white vinger
- 1/2 cup oil
- 2 1/2 TB poultry seasoning
- 1 TB salt
- 1 t pepper
- 1 egg
I prefer to cook with chicken quarters (the skin absorbs the marinade at just the right rate that both the skin and chicken are amazing. Note: I don’t eat cooked chicken skin unless it’s with this sauce.) but you are more than welcome to cook breasts or other random parts as well. Marinate your chicken for at least 2 hours before cooking, or even overnight in the fridge.
Tip: blend the marinade in a blender or some such to keep it from separating later.
Grill for the same amount of time you would with regular chicken bits (about 30 minutes for 2 quarters) but beware that charcoal or gas grills may cause falre-ups so have a spray bottle handy. Enjoy!
Making your own stock is not only far cheaper than store bought broth and those silly melting stock cubes, but super easy as well. We save all of our veggie scraps (the peelings from carrots, celery ends, onion bits, etc) as well as any bones from chickens or in today’s case, our Thanksgiving turkey. Instead of boiling the goods down like most folks do, we use our super sassy pressure cooker. Throw in your scraps and 3-4 cups of water and set to high pressure for 80-90 minutes. After it has cooked down, stir and set for another hour. At this point your bones should be soft enough to have released all of the nutrients and yummies from the marrow and your veggies should be pretty unrecognizable. Strain all the gunk out and cut with 4-6 cups of water. Freeze in baggies and use in the place of the store bought stuff. The tomato soup I made yesterday with my stock instead of a Costco box of chicken broth was the best batch I have ever made!
I am a perfectionist. I like to be good at everything I do, and if I’m not immediately great at [insert whatever here] I automatically find the venture dumb, and not worth my time anyway (it’s a really mature way of thinking and I do the same thing with Jeopardy answers I don’t know). But I’m getting better. Slowly.
I stuck with pool long enough to get good and justify buying my own cue (her name is Blanche and she’s pretty cool for a stick), and despite getting all Hulk-smash-mad every time I have cooked a whole chicken that took longer than it should and was burnt on the top and raw on the bottom, I have stuck with that as well. All the pain, suffering, and kitchen whining were worth it. Last night I triumphed in the kitchen by not only successfully cooking the thing, but making it taste pretty darn good as well.
First, open a can of beer and drink half of it (this is essential). Then pick all the gizzards out of the cavity and throw in a big soup pot (to simmer down with the rest of the carcass for soup). Rinse the bird in the last little bath it will have on this sphere, and gently pull the skin from the meat so you can cram a ‘healthy’ mixture of butter, garlic and some choice seasonings in there. Now take your half consumed can of beer, and wedge it up the chickens south end so it sits like a prince(ss) on it’s new beer throne. Slather with some souped up olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a little cayenne, cover and stick in the oven for an hour and a half @ 450*. After a few more cocktails, the timer should be letting you know it’s time to remove the foil – allow the bird to brown and crisp for another 25-30 minutes. Rest your nicely cooked bird for 5-10 minutes, carve, and devour.
After you’re done picking at the carcass, throw it in the stock pot with the bones and gizzards for chicken noodle soup. This morning I simmered the chicken bits with a whole onion, a few cloves of garlic, 2 carrots and some celery. Tonight I’ll skim the fat from the top, strain the bones and mushed veggies out, and start working new veggies into my ‘from scratch stock.’ We like a few potatoes, some wild rice, and egg noodles thrown in as well. I can’t wait. It’s so good.