How to: Brine, Roast, and Carve a Chicken

Hi hi hi! It's been a busy busy week full of chickens, babies, bike rides, and wine! But before I go further into my busy week or tell you how to do all the chicken-related things promised in the title of this post, I've got some announcements!

First, the lovely folks over at Better Homes & Gardens somehow got past the fact that half of these blog posts are really just me cursing and photos of biceps, and nominated this lil blog as one of this year's ten best food blogs(!!!!!!). It's extremely humbling, especially considering they had to go through a lot of really dope blogs to pick the top ten. So, I'm just sitting here blushing and now you can help us win best food blog by voting for us hereThere are multiple categories (gardening, lifestyle, etc) you can vote in, but you'll find our voting section under "food." 

Ok ok so that's really exciting, and the other really exciting thing is we've partnered with Ebay through the month of March to bring y'all even more food and lifestyle tips!! We're like just starting but you can expect our Ebay page to be filled with many many tips and trickz in the coming month, starting with some content from today's blog post!

And now: chicken. America's favorite flightless bird / protein source. It's what we eat all the time in the Probs This household because it's cheap, easy to make, and relatively healthy. Our favorite method of preparing it goes something like: buy a whole damn bird, brine it in a buttermilk brine to make it super juicy, roast it in the oven until the skin is crackly and salty and the meat is succulent as shit and ah mannnn it's just really really good. The brine is a step you can totally skip, but tbh you'll be making a poor decision. It makes the meat so much more plump and delicious, and considering it takes ten minutes to get the brine together, you should totes do it! You can just let that lil thing sit in the brine overnight or all day while you're gone at work, and then you've got yourself a bird ready for the oven. Anyhow, I've listed the steps and more photos about all of this below, and you can see some additional tips on the Ebay guide about it!

- Brining -

Brining is basically the unsung and under-done savior of roasted chicken. Think of it like foreplay, if you just rush into the whole shabang, you'll get what you came for, but it won't be as satisfying as it could've been. I'm talking about sex. But also chicken. Brine your chicken. 

I prefer a buttermilk brine (no longer talking about sex here, guys), cause it is mega simple and it does the two-in-one job of making the flesh plump AND prepping the skin to get crispy. I found my favorite method for a buttermilk brine from the folks over at Bon Appetit. So, here's what you'll need:

  • a 4 - 5 pound chicken, patted dry
  • 1 quart buttermilk 
  • 1 T whole mixed peppercorns
  • 2 t fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 T coarse sea salt
  • Bowl large enough to fit it all in
  • Plastic wrap

Place the chicken in the bowl, cover in all of the other ingredients, doing a few flip flops with your hands to make sure it all gets mixed up together. Cover with plastic wrap, let sit overnight, or for about 12 hours. You can do this for up to 24 hours if you'd like. When you're ready to roast it, remove it from the brine and drain all of the liquid off, also making sure to remove any whole peppercorns that stick to the skin. Roasting and carving directions below!


- Roasting -

This is the fun part because it's when the whole house starts smelling like Ina Garten and if you have guests over everyone is gonna to be all "what's that smell?!" and "yaaaaaas girl you must be roasting a chicken - did you read that guide by those two queens who run that food blog thing called Probably That?"!! Then you can say yes and correct them about the name of our blog. 

Ok, so you can basically pick how you want to season your bird but here are some things you'll def need:

  • roasting pan (you can use a large casserole dish in a pinch, but a roasting pan with a rack helps keep the chicken skin crisp)
  • twine or string
  • aluminum foil
  • 1 brined and drained 4 - 5 pound chicken (instructions above)

And here's what I use to season and stuff my favorite lil chicken buddies:

  • 1 whole white onion, cut into 8 big chunks
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped into 3" long pieces
  • 3 carrots, chopped into 3" long pieces or just split down the middle
  • 1 orange, cut into quarters, for stuffing into the cavity of the bird
  • a bunch of fresh thyme
  • salt n peppa 
  1. Preheat your oven (with a rack in the center position) to 425 degrees and line your roasting pan with aluminum foil.
  2. Place the vegetables in the bottom of the pan and give them a sprinkle of salt and pepper, reserving a few pieces of each veggie for shoving into the chicken.
  3. Place the rack in the pan and set the chicken, tits up, on top of it. Stuff the cavity with the reserved vegetables, orange, and 3 - 5 sprigs of thyme. Anything that won't fit in the chicken can get nestled in with the rest of the veggies in the pan.
  4. Bring the legs together and use your ingenuity to tie together the tips of the legs. You just want it to be tight enough to stay together. You can feel free to stuff some thyme underneath the skin where the breast is, but to be real with you I haven't noticed that this does much flavor wise and it usually just makes the finished chicken look less attractive.
  5. Go ahead and sprinkle some salt on top of the chicken and place the roasting pan into the oven (center rack), letting the chicken cook for 45 minutes to one hour. 
  6. Now comes the delicate part: is it done y'all??!  Ten or so minutes in the oven can make the difference between perfectly juicy chicken and *womp womp* dry chicken. Check for doneness by using a meat thermometer (it should read 160 - 165 degrees when inserted in the groove between the breast and the leg - but not hitting bone as bone conducts heat and could tell you a lieee).  Alternatively, remove the roasting pan from the oven and use a sharp knife to cut deep into the flesh in that same groove and if the juices run totally clear, it's done!
  7. Cover in aluminum foil and let rest for twenty minutes before carving. Check out carving tips below!

- Carving - 

If roasting is the fun part, this is the part that everyone seems to have weird anxiety about but actually it's super easy and even if you fuck it up a little bit, it's going to be amazing. 

After you've let your lil bird rest after roasting, pick out a super super sharp carving knife and a nice sturdy carving board, and set the chicken on it, breast side up. 

  1. Start by cutting off the rope you tied the legs with, obvi. Use your free hand to pull the leg away from the body of the chicken, and use the tip of the knife to slice through the skin and flesh in that groove, eventually cutting right through the connective joint. I prefer to keep the thigh and leg together as one, but if you wish to separate them, place the leg/thigh quarter on the cutting board and, holding the drumstick, cut through the connective joint of the thigh. Place the thigh/leg quarter on a serving platter or plate and repeat for the other leg.
  2. Next, do a similar process for the wings, pulling each wing away from the body of the chicken and cutting through the connective joint, being careful not to harm the meat of the breast.  
  3. To remove the breast meat, first locate the hard sternum-like breast plate that separates the two breasts, and use a sharp knife to slice between the meat of one breast and the sternum, using the hard sternum as a guide for your knife. Continue slicing until you've gone all the way down to the rib cage, and all the way across the chicken, tip-to-tip length wise. You should be able to use your hands to gently peel the breast out at this point, but if not, use the knife to fully remove the breast. Once removed, slice the breast into cross sections as shown in the picture above.
  4. Serve warm alongside the vegetable you roasted with it!

Step 4 is feasting on the fruits of your labor! Happy happy week to you guys!