You will be in for a treat if you have never tasted brined chicken before-perfectly seasoned, juicy tender meat. It is the easiest thing to do-you just have to think ahead a little as I recommend the chicken pieces rest overnight in their salty/sweet, garlicky brine. I cook everything together so the crushed potatoes have the chance to soak up all the delicious chicken juices. Use thighs (bone-in) or drumsticks as I have here or chicken legs, but make sure you have a large roasting tin so you can spread the ingredients out. Don’t skip the lemon juice at the end- it lifts the whole dish.
- For the brine
- 110g Maldon salt
- 150g soft light brown sugar
- Peeled rind of one lemon
- 4 bay leaves
- 6 garlic cloves, bruised with the blade of a knife
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- For the chicken
- 1.1kg chicken pieces, (thighs bone-in, drumsticks or legs)
- 500g news potatoes, halved
- 2 red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- To serve
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Fresh thyme leaves and chopped parsley
- For the brine, place all the ingredients in a saucepan and pour in one litre water. Bring to the boil then take off the heat and pour in one litre cold water. Leave the brine to cool completely. Pour into a deep bowl or container and add the chicken pieces. Cover and refrigerate-preferably overnight or at least 6 hours.
- The next day heat the oven to fan 200 °c, conventional oven 220°c, mark 6. Put the potatoes in a saucepan of lightly salted water. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for about 8 minutes or until just cooked. Drain the potatoes and tip into a large roasting tin. Leave to cool for a few minutes then lightly press down onto each potato to flatten. Use a wide spatula or, if cool, the palm of your (clean!) hand. Arrange the red onion wedges around the tin and drizzle with the olive oil.
- Lift the chicken pieces out of the brine and pat dry with kitchen paper. Nestle the chicken among the potatoes and onion and scatter over the thyme sprigs. Roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until the chicken is crispy and cooked through. You may want to give everything a little turn halfway through the cooking time.
- To serve, arrange the chicken, potatoes and onions on to a serving dish and scatter over some parsley and thyme leaves. Squeeze over the lemon juice and serve.