This was my first attempt at brining. I ran into two minor snags. Cooling the brine to room temperature took far longer than I anticipated. And I didn’t have any plastic bags larger than one gallon. I resorted to my fallback bags which in this case were scented. My concern was that the scent would permeate the chicken. It didn’t, instead permeating my refrigerator reminding me that I needed to change the box of baking soda.
Normally when making any chicken dish, I use boneless breasts no matter which cut of chicken the recipe calls for. I don’t much care for wings, legs or thighs. In this case, I opted to go with the bone-in breast halves as specified. Big mistake. They were very thick. They cooked, but were rubbery. I prefer my chicken to be cooked to a firmer texture. The advantage to using boneless breasts in a recipe like this is that if they are too thick, they can be pounded thinner to ensure that they cook properly.
I had been sick all week and so rested while the chicken was baking and the rice was boiling. Another big mistake. When the chicken came out of the oven, I realized that I hadn’t sliced the eight cloves of garlic. Which became six large cloves because I had neither the time, the energy nor the patience to slice two more. I was also perplexed by the instruction to “cube” the butter. I’ve melted butter, softened butter, even sliced it into pats, but am clueless as to how one “cubes” butter. I settle for cutting it into large slices which melted quite nicely into the sauce.
Other than the rubbery texture of the chicken, this dish was perfection. The sauce had body without being too heavy. The garlic was there but not obnoxiously so. The sherry added an “exotic” note to the sauce. And the fresh thyme was lighter and yet more flavorful than the dried thyme that I am accustomed to using in recipes.
Verdict: Yum!! This one’s a keeper!!
2 quarts water
½ cup salt
4 bone-in chicken breast halves (12 ounces each)
¾ teaspoon pepper, divided
2 teaspoons canola oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
½ cup sherry or additional reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 fresh thyme sprigs
¼ cup butter, cubed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
For brine, in a large saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil. Cook and stir until salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat; cool to room temperature.
Place a large heavy-duty resealable plastic bag inside a second large resealable plastic bag; add chicken. Carefully pour cooled brine into bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible; seal bags and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, turning several times.
Drain and discard brine. Rinse chicken with cold water; pat dry. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon pepper. In a large ovenproof skillet, brown chicken in oil over medium heat.
Bake, uncovered, at 400°F for 20-25 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170°F. Remove chicken and keep warm. Drain drippings, reserving 1 tablespoon.
In the drippings, sauté garlic for 1 minute. Ad the broth, sherry or additional broth and thyme. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced to 1 cup. Discard thyme. Stir in the butter, lemon juice and remaining pepper. Serve with chicken.
Yield: 4 servings
Recycle: canola oil bottle, chicken broth can, sherry bottle, lemon juice bottle
Compost: garlic skins