There is one major complaint I have about most chicken, and it’s that it is usually very dry and very bland. Chicken is a pretty blank slate in terms of flavor on its own, and I’m gonna call it like I see it: most people are seriously under seasoning their birds! Consider this dry brine a super easy, ironclad guarantee that your chicken will never join the boring masses. There are two ways to brine, wet or dry, and I find dry brining to be the much easier but equally delicious method of the two. A dry brine technically requires just one ingredient: salt. Mine has some extra delicious ingredients, of course, like mustard powder, oregano, celery seed, and citrus zest, and that, along with lots of salt and pepper, gets rubbed all over the chicken skin before it’s placed uncovered in the refrigerator for a day or two. This recipe also calls for a spatchcock chicken, which just means that the spine has been removed so that the chicken can lay flat. This not only makes for faster, more evening cooking, but also makes it even easier to carve and serve once it’s dinner time! Even better, every step of this recipe can be done days in advance save for the roasting, so it’s perfect for entertaining (and impressing!) your guests.
1. Dry Brining
Brining, in its most basic definition, is the process of salting and resting something (usually meat, and in this case, chicken) before you cook it. The science of brining is straightforward osmosis and diffusion: the salt initially draws moisture out of the chicken, creating a coating of super salty liquid, which then gets reabsorbed back into the chicken, where the salt tenderizes the meat by breaking down some of its protein structures. This leaves you with juicy, well seasoned meat and super dry skin for maximum crisping in the oven.
A spatchcock chicken is simply one that’s had the spine removed so that the chicken lays flat. It’s great for roasting because there’s more surface area exposed, which results in more even and faster cooking. It’s incredibly simple to do at home, especially with a pair of kitchen shears, but you can also ask your butcher to prepare your bird this way if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.
3. Mix Up the Flavors!
I love the combination of citrus and chicken, so my brine is packed with zest, but as long as you have salt, you can add any spices, herbs, or zests you prefer! Lemon, thyme, and rosemary would make for a more classic roast chicken vibe, or cumin and chili powder for a smoky, spicy version.