Apple Cider Brined and Slow Roasted Chicken

The temperature dropped down close to freezing overnight and my plan to grill outside went out the drafty window. I decided instead to give my old house’s heater a boost with a long slow cook at 300 degrees F. For this recipe, figure about 30 minutes per pound for the chicken, so three hours or so of oven time.

I brined the chicken overnight in some of the leftover apple cider I mulled to warm up with as I volunteered to Get Out the Vote for Louisiana’s runoff election (Yay – John Bel Edwards won Governor!). The end result is a chicken which tastes a lot like your favorite rotisserie chicken – juicy and falling off the bone tender. The apple cider gives the meat a little color and the herbes de provence add flavor without any additional salt.

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Apple Cider Brined and Slow Roasted Chicken

3-5 lb whole chicken
3 cups apple cider (mulled is fine)
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 quart ice cubes
2 tablespoons herbes de provence
1 large onion, quartered
1 large granny smith apple, peeled and quartered

Combine the cider, salt, peppercorns and bay leaves in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until salt dissolves. Remove from heat; cool completely by adding the ice cubes.

Remove giblets and neck from chicken. Cut out the backbone and trim off excess fat. Discard or save these parts for later stock making. Rinse chicken with cold water; pat dry. Place chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag, pour over brine and seal. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight, turning the bag occasionally.

Remove chicken from brine, rinse off and put back in the refrigerator, uncovered until ready to cook. Work back from serving time at about 30 minutes per pound to figure when to start cooking. With my 5 pound bird, I’m thinking it will take 3 to 3.5 hours.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Remove chicken from refrigerator and coat lightly with vegetable oil. Sprinkle herbes de provence over the bird. Place onion and apple on the bottom of the roasting pan and balance the chicken on top, breast side up. Use 1 onion and 1 apple for every two people dining.

Roast for approximately 3 hours. If the chicken breasts are roasting too fast, tent with aluminum foil.

Chicken will be done whent the thigh temperature is 170 degrees F. Remove from heat and let rest ten minutes before carving. Mash the apple with a little bit of the pan juices and serve it and the tender onion with the chicken.

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