Herb-Brined Pan-Roasted Chicken

Prep Time: 1 Hour

Yields: 4 Servings


Brining is a pretreatment in which meat is placed in flavored saltwater solution known as brine. This produces a moist and well-seasoned protein. Normally, meat loses about 30 percent of its weight during cooking, but if you brine it first, you can reduce the moisture loss by as much as 15 percent. Additionally, brining enhances juiciness and flavor. The muscle fibers absorb the flavored liquid during the brining process. I recommend brining in two plastic trash bags, one inside the other, to hold the chicken and brine when frying for a crowd. You may also wish to place the chicken in an ice chest or cooler covering with the brine. If using this method, chill the brine to approximately 40°F then add 5–6 ice packs to maintain temperature overnight. A ceramic bowl or gallon Ziploc® bag is perfect for one bird. Once the brine is added, seal the bag with a wire tie or zip lock and place in the bottom of a refrigerator, shaking the bag every few hours. Chicken is usually brined for a minimum of 14 hours and a maximum of 24.

Ingredients for Brine:

1 chicken fryer, cut into 8 pieces

1 gallon cold water

½ cup kosher salt

OR 1 cup table salt

¼ cup brown sugar

2 bay leaves, crushed

1 tbsp dried thyme leaves

1 tbsp dried basil

2 tsps dried sage

2 tbsps granulated garlic

2 tbsps granulated onion

1 tbsp black pepper

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

Method for Brining:

Brining can begin 24 hours in advance of cooking or as little as 14 hours in advance. Use a fresh chicken, completely thawed. NOTE: Check label to ensure that bird has not been pre-injected with salt or other flavorings, otherwise it may be over-seasoned. Wash chicken pieces completely. Pour 1 gallon water into a large stockpot. Add all flavoring ingredients and, using a wire whisk, stir 3–5 minutes to dissolve flavorings. Place chicken in ceramic bowl or plastic bags and top with brine mixture. Place in refrigerator until ready to cook. When ready to cook, remove chicken from brine, rinse well under cold running water and pat dry. NOTE: If desired, you may cut brine time in half by doubling all ingredients except water.

Ingredients for Pan-Roasted Chicken:

8 chicken pieces, brined

1 tbsp vegetable oil

salt and black pepper to taste

granulated garlic to taste

cayenne pepper to taste

paprika to taste

Method for Pan-Roasted Chicken:

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a heavy-bottomed, 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat to almost smoking, 3–5 minutes. Season chicken to taste using salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, cayenne pepper and paprika. NOTE: Remember chicken is brined; take care not to over season. Brown chicken skin-side down until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken over and brown 4 additional minutes. Place chicken skin-side down and roast in oven until juices run clear or until thickest part of breast registers 160°–170°F. Remove chicken from skillet, and place skin-side up on a platter. Allow to rest 5–7 minutes before serving.