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lemon tarragon brined chicken

imageI’ll start by saying I’m not a huge fan of chicken. To me, it’s almost tasteless unless covered by a great sauce. When given a choice of meat, I almost always choose pork. It was, however, a sad day when we had to leave Falls Church’s famous Peruvian “super chicken,” a spicy rotisserie chicken served with chimichurri and yucca fries. Deeelicious.

My favorite, never-fail roasted chicken recipe originally came from Cooking Light. You can find their version online here (if it won’t let you in, get a free membership; it’s a great website). I’ve modified it over the many times I’ve made it; I don’t much like barbecuing whole chickens, so I roast mine.

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lemon tarragon brined chicken
serves 4

7 c. water, divided
Zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus 1 lemon, quartered
8 tarragon sprigs
1 c. kosher salt
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. ice cubes
1 whole chicken, giblets and neck removed
1 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon, plus 2 sprigs
1 onion, quartered
1 tsp. pepper
Olive oil

Combine 1 c. water, zest, salt, sugar, and tarragon in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Place in a large bowl. Add remaining water, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Cool. Add the ice and chicken. Refrigerate 3-8 hours. Do not leave overnight, or you will have salty chicken! (Note: if you forget to remove the chicken from the brine, you can do a bit of “de-brining” by soaking it in cold water for an hour. No promises, though). Remove chicken and discard brine. Pat chicken dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 375 degF. Insert 2 sprigs of tarragon and quarters of lemon and onion inside the chicken cavity. Tie up the legs for even cooking. Lightly coat outside of chicken with olive oil. Rub the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped tarragon and 1 tsp. pepper on outside of chicken. Baste chicken with 2 Tbs. lemon juice twice during cooking.  Roast for about 1.5 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 175degF. Let chicken rest for 15 minutes under a foil tent; it should come up to 180degF before carving.

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Editor’s note: This post is part of Monday ManiaReal Food WednesdayFight Back Friday and Freaky Friday