There are many ways of enhancing the flavour of a whole roasted chicken, and a favourite of ours is brining.
Brining is basically soaking meat in a salt water solution, but the flavour doesn’t stop at just salt. You can add all kinds of aromatics such as juniper berries, garlic, thyme and pepper to the solution to impart a different flavour. There are no rules – just use flavours that go together well. When you’re making the salt solution, aim for approximately 30g of salt per litre of water. That equates to about 5 teaspoons of table salt, but if you’re using a coarser salt such as kosher or sea salt, the conversion won’t be quite the same. In a case like this, you’re better off using a scale if you have one.
Bring the liquid to a simmer and stir to dissolve the salt. Turn off the heat and let the ingredients steep for about 30 minutes. Then, cool the liquid in the fridge or with an ice bath before brining the chicken. It’s very important that the water be cold before brining to avoid helping to develop bacteria.
The rule of thumb is to let a chicken brine for approximately one hour per pound of meat, though you may want to lengthen or shorten that time depending on the strength of your salt solution or the level of salt you want to achieve. Once the chicken is brined, remove it from the solution, rinse off the excess salt, and pat it completely dry, inside and out, with a paper towel. This step is important because it prevents the chicken from steaming in the oven, which results in an unpleasant taste and texture.