Chicken that tastes of gin? Yes, Christmas wishes really do come true! This amazing gin brine makes chicken unbelievably juicy, tender and flavoursome. Once you’ve tasted Gin Brined Chicken, you will never want to eat normal chicken again!
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited on a trip to the River Cottage, organised by the fab team at Foodies100. Well, I didn’t need to be asked twice and I had the most amazing foodie, bloggy and all round lovely time. You can read all about my adventures at the River Cottage here.
The River Cottage run lots of courses, and for part of our trip to the River Cottage, we were treated to a little taster session of their Curing and Smoking Course and were shown how to make bresaola and brine a chicken and a ham.
Now I have to say, before I visited the River Cottage, I was a little sceptical about brining, wondering whether it was really worth it. It has always sounded like a lot of faff and I couldn’t imagine that it would make much difference. And then the chef, Andy, mentioned the word gin, and my little ears pricked up!
Andy showed us how to brine a chicken using gin, limes, lemons and juniper berries and then we got to taste it – and oh my, it tasted amazing! And given it didn’t take too long, and was actually a lot less faff than I thought, I figured I would give it a go and see what happened.
I spent A LOT of time at the River Cottage taking photos and consequently when I got home I discovered my notes were a little sketchy, to say the least! But fortunately I had noted down all the key points. According to Andy, a brine for poultry should be 10g of salt for every 100ml of water (they call this a 10% brine). You need about 200ml gin and you should add other flavours such as limes and lemons to flavour the brine. A chicken should be brined for 24 hours, and if you want to do this with a turkey, that needs to be done for 48 hours. The bird should be completely submerged in the brine and all this needs to take place in a non-metallic container and kept fridge cold.
From these key basics, I worked out my easy peasy version of the recipe and the result was AMAZING – yes I really do need capital letters. I have never tasted a chicken so good. The meat was moist and succulent, and the flavour was incredible. And, yes, you could taste the gin and also the citrus and the herbs, but it was better than that – it just tasted really, really good. It was definitely enough to convince me it was worth brining the chicken!
The downside is of course, throwing 200ml gin into your chicken does make it an expensive business, and also, although the chicken didn’t taste too salty in any way – just perfectly seasoned, the juices, and consequently the gravy did taste a bit on the salty side – not unbearably so, but definitely more salty than I’d usually make it.
I would like to go back and experiment and see what effect reducing the amount of gin and salt would make and see if I could still get a good result with less of both. Thus making it a more affordable treat – with better gravy!
In terms of how easy this is: making the brine took less than 10 minutes, I did this the day before and popped it into the fridge (it must be kept somewhere cold – if it won’t fit in the fridge, a pantry would do, or a garage in winter if it’s cold enough). I found this old cracker box was just the right size for my chicken. And the chicken I cooked according to my favourite Simple Roast Chicken recipe – but for a bit less time as my chicken was smaller. I did my 1.5kg chicken at 200C for 60minutes and it was just perfect.
This brine would also work brilliantly for a turkey, but you would need increase the quantities of water and salt proportionately (and gin if you don’t mind the expense!) and leave in the brine for 48 hours, then roast according to my Easy Peasy Christmas Turkey recipe.
And a wine match with this gin brined chicken (or turkey)? Well personally I would have a gin and tonic – anything else would seem wrong! But if you really want to drink wine with it, I would suggest a dry or just off dry Riesling from New Zealand or Australia, as the limey notes in the Riesling would pair brilliantly with the gin and citrus flavours in the chicken. Although roast chicken usually works well with red wine, I would say in this instance it wouldn’t be a good match. As a second choice a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Pinot Gris/Grigio would all be fine.
Gin Brined Chicken or Turkey
- 1 small chicken roughly 1.5kg
- 2800 ml water
- 200 ml gin
- 300 g salt
- 1 lemon quartered
- 2 limes halved
- A few sprigs of thyme
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns / or a few twists of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries
- Olive oil
- Black Pepper
- A few sprigs of thyme
- Easy Peasy Roast Potatoes
- Easy Christmas Vegetable Traybake – or any veg you fancy!
Mix together the water, gin and salt in a large container and stir until the salt has dissolved.
Add the chicken and ensure it is completely submerged, add more water if not.
Squeeze in the juice of the lemons and limes and then add them into the water around the chicken. Add all the other ingredients. Store for 24 hours. (48 hours for a turkey) in the fridge or a similarly cold place.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Place in a roasting tray. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the herbs, limes and lemons from the brine.
Drizzle olive oil over the chicken and scatter over some black pepper and thyme. Rub into the skin of the chicken.
Roast the chicken for 60 minutes, basting occasionally.
Serve with roast potatoes and vegetables and a lovely chilled glass of Riesling.
NotesFor turkey, increase the quantities of water and salt proportionately (and gin if you don’t mind the expense!) and leave in the brine for 48 hours, then roast according to my Easy Peasy Christmas Turkey recipe.
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