Sweet Tea Brined Chicken
This crisp, golden-brown Brined Chicken is tender, juicy and full of flavor!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Chilling Tim: e3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
8 cups strongly-brewed sweet tea ( make your own sweet tea, or purchase a jug of sweet tea at the store)
Juice from 1 lemon
½ cup coarse kosher salt (do not use table salt)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 dried bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3-4 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces or 1 whole chicken (about 4-5 lbs.)
In a large pot, combine sweet tea, lemon juice, kosher salt, pepper, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, garlic and onion. Bring to a simmer over high heat. You do not need to rapidly boil the liquid; just whisk to make sure that the salt is dissolved.
Remove from heat and cool completely.
Once the brine is cool, add chicken to the brine and submerge in the liquid. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours (for bone-in chicken pieces) or 8-24 hours (for a whole chicken).
Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse with cool water. Pat dry.
TO ROAST CHICKEN PIECES:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place chicken pieces skin-side-up on the baking sheet. Roast, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through (an internal temperature of 165 degrees F) – about 30-35 minutes for legs and wings; 45-55 minutes for breasts and thighs.
TO ROAST A WHOLE CHICKEN:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place a rack in a roasting pan.
Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wings underneath the bird. Place chicken (breast-side up) on the rack in the roasting pan. Brush the skin of the chicken liberally with melted butter.
Roast on the middle rack of the oven for about 1 hour, 10 minutes (or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh meat (away from the bone) registers 165 degrees F). The skin should be brown and crisp. If it starts to get too brown before the chicken is done, tent loosely with foil. Let the chicken rest for 10-15 minutes before carving and serving.
Prep Ahead: Remember that the brine needs plenty of time to cool before you add the chicken. Make it in advance and keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to brine the meat.
Clear Out Your Fridge: Before preparing the brine, make sure that you have plenty of space in your refrigerator to chill the pot with the chicken and brine. This might require some cleaning and/or rearranging.
Use Coarse Kosher Salt: It's important to use coarse kosher salt -- not table salt. Using table salt will make your brine (and your chicken) way too salty.
Do Not Brine for Longer Than the Recommended Period: For bone-in, skin-on chicken parts, brine for 2-4 hours; whole chicken, brine for 8-24 hours; boneless, skinless chicken pieces, brine 30 minutes - 2 hours.
Tent with Foil: If the meat starts to get too dark while it's roasting in the oven, tent loosely with foil until the chicken cooks through.
Rest: Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving. This will allow all of those delicious juices to redistribute throughout the meat.