Giving your chicken a long saltwater bath (brining) is a simple trick to make roast chicken turn out extra moist and flavorful... any day of the week. It doesn't even need a bath toy while it's brining. It's happy to just hang out, bobbing around. Roasting it untrussed makes sure that the dark and white meat are both evenly cooked and moist. Even the leftovers are still moist. We roasted our first brined chicken at 371º (using convection setting at 371º), and it turned out perfectly, so we've stuck with 371ºF just for luck.
I knew that you are supposed to reduce the temperature 25º when you use the convection setting for anything, but with our range you turn the knob and have to wait for the numbers to change bit by bit. I was too impatient to wait for it to go down 25 degrees, so I gave up after only 4 degrees and hoped for the best at 371º. Good call! P.S. Roasting times: 4 lb chicken-1 hour total. For every 1/2 pound difference up or down, add or take away 5 minutes...3.5 lb chicken 55 minutes...4.5 lb chicken 65 minutes.
4 lb refrigerated chicken, free range* ("Mary's" is the brand we buy at our local store)
1/2 C salt (we use sea salt or pink Himalayan salt)
2 quarts water
1 TBL ghee or butter, room temperature
V-rack for roasting
- Rinse the refrigerated chicken under cool running water. Let excess water drip off. Place the chicken in a large narrow pot (I use my pressure cooker pot). Save the chicken liver in the fridge and sautée another time--like when the chicken is roasting and the cook deserves a treat.
- Fill a 2-quart pitcher with water and add the 1/2 cup salt. Stir until the salt is dissolved.
- Pour the salted water over the chicken to cover it completely. Leave it for 1 hour to brine. If it's a hot day, put it in the refrigerator. If not, it's okay on the counter.
- Set large jelly-roll pan in oven, or other shallow roasting tray, and Preheat oven to 371ºF on convection setting, or 375º on the regular baking setting.
- Remove the chicken from the brine. Pat dry.
- Massage ghee all over the chicken, holding it in the air with one hand and getting all parts greased well. Rub your ghee-covered hands over the V-rack to grease it well. Sprinkle chicken liberally with salt and pepper. If you have a helper you can hold the chicken over the sink while they do the liberal sprinkling (top and then the bottom after you've turned it over).
- Cut off 2 strips of aluminum foil, 1-1/2 feet long. Crumple up gently into 2 grapefruit-sized balls.
- Place chicken in V-rack: lay the chicken on it's side in the rack, wing waving at the sky. Prop up the resting beauty with the aluminum foil balls. It will look uncannily like it's resting on a lounge chair at the beach.
- Remove hot roasting tray from oven and place the V-rack (with the chicken on it) on the hot tray.
- Roast in the oven for 15 minutes (set your timer), then remove from oven (close the door to reserve the important hot heat). Now, turn the chicken to lay breast-side up. Discard the foil balls.
- Roast for additional 45-50 minutes, or until breast temperature reads 160º on the thermometer. You CAN increase the heat to 450º (for crisper skin) during the last 20 minutes, but we had so much luck at 371º, we are afraid to fiddle with it. The skin will still be crispy.
- Remove from oven, let rest 10 minutes for juices to scurry back into the meat. Carve and enjoy!
- Oh, and save the bones for chicken stock (i.e. place them in a crock pot, cover with 4 quarts water, an onion, some celery and a few bay leaves or whatever and simmer for 12 to 24 hours).
*If you have a Kosher chicken, don't brine it. It is already salted.