Skip to main content

Birch Bark-Brined Chicken

I still don't know why I don't brine meats more often. I guess I've just recently become a brining convert. I brined chicken thighs in a hot cider tea brine for #AppleWeek last month; and I brined quail for an Uruguay wine event earlier in the year. But, before that, I never really thought about brining. However, the resulting tender, juicy roasts are making it a must in my book.

So, when I knew that I would be feeding four hungry teenage boys on a Friday night, I decided to brine and roast two whole chickens for dinner. For the grown-ups I was also going to pair with a Merlot ahead of this month's #MerlotMe celebration. So, I read the tasting notes included in the packages from the wineries and selected on that had sassafras and licorice aromas. Supposedly.

So, I decided to include some birch bark in my brine. Sassafras and birch bark smell strongly of root beer; I guess I could have added some of that to the mixture, too! Next time.


  • 12 C water, divided
  • 3 C salt 
  • 1 C local honey 
  • 1/2 C unsulphured blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 C gluten-free tamari (one of my guests is sensitive to gluten, use regular soy sauce if you wish)
  • 1 T coriander seeds
  • 1 T cumin seeds
  • 1 T birch bark
  • 1 T peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 to 3 green onions, trimmed
  • 2 whole chickens 
  • 4 T melted
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 4 lemons
  • 2 onion
  • Also needed; roasting pan, 100% cotton twine


In a large stock pot, bring 6 C water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the salt until it dissolves. Add another 6 C of water and let cool. Stir in the honey, molasses, tamari, and all the spices. Whisk together to blend, then submerge the chicken into the brine. If it's not fully submerged, be sure to turn the chicken halfway through brining. I let mine brine for about 12 hours. An hour before cooking, remove the chicken and rinse in cold water. Discard the brine.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Dry the bird, inside and out, and stuff each bird with the two lemons and onion. Truss the legs.

Place the chicken, breast side up, in the center of a baking dish. Brush the meat with melted butter and cover with foil. Roast for 60 minutes. Raise the temperature to 450 degrees F. Uncover and roast until the skin is golden brown and crisped. You want the internal temperature of the thickest part of the bird to be about 165 degrees. I put the chicken back in the oven after this photo!

Once you've reached the proper temperature, remove the chicken from the pan and flip it breast-side down so that the juices flow into the meat. Let it rest like that for 15 minutes before carving. 

I served this brined chicken with potatoes and a green salad. And, for the adults, I poured the 2016 Duckhorn Merlot. Tasting notes to come on that!


Popular posts from this blog

Jamaican Stew Peas #EattheWorld

  Here we are at November #EattheWorld event. What a year this has been! This challenge has been one that gave us some excuse for virtual travel as we've been sheltered-in-place with the coronavirus epidemic for most of 2020. So, we've been able to read about different parts of the world and create a dinner, or at least a dish, with that cuisine. This Eat the World project is spearheaded by Evelyne of  CulturEatz . Read more about  her challenge . This month, Evelyne had us heading to somewhere tropical: Jamaica. I have actually been to Jamaica, but it was almost thirty years ago...and it was just a jumping off point for the rest of our Caribbean exploration. I don't remember eating anything at all! Pandemonium Noshery: Pumpkin Rice   Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Jamaican Stew Peas  Amy’s Cooking Adventures: Jamaican Chicken & Pumpkin Soup   Palatable Pastime: Jamaican Jerk Chicken Burger   Sneha’s Recipe: Jamaican Saucy Jerk Chicken Wings With Homemade Jerk Seas

Lamskoteletten op zijn oud-Hollands for #TheBookClubCookbookCC

Here we are at April's #thebookclubcookbookCC event. It's hard to believe that we only have three more months in this year-long journey to explore - and cook from -  The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors  by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp.* Judy, Vicki, and their publisher,  Tarcher-Penguin ,  have provided the hosting bloggers with copies of the book plus copies to giveaway each month of the project. Woohoo. Incredibly generous. This month Sarah at  Things I Make (for Dinner)  has selected  Girl With a Pearl Earring  by Tracy Chevalier.** Click to read  Sarah's invitation . She shared the recipe for Griet's Vegetable Soup, but invited us to find inspiration in any of the pages. On the Page... While the boys were playing around the lake during our week in Tahoe earlier in the month, I stayed by the fire and finished this book in one sitting. Loved it. photo by R

Pistachio Dukkah for #HandCraftedEdibles

In an effort to make all of my holiday gifts this year, we are sharing recipes for hand-crafted edibles. Over the course of twelve weeks, we'll be sharing recipes that you can make at home to give to friends and loved ones, or things to serve at holiday parties. We hope you'll follow along for inspiration. You can find out more information, including the schedule:  here . This week, we are "going nuts" and sharing all sorts of recipes with nuts. Think spiced nuts or nutty fruit cake or whatever floats your nutty boat! Here's what we're posting this week... Amy's Cooking Adventures  shared her Salted Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookaholic Wife  cooked up Slow Cooker Cinnamon Almonds Making Miracles  made Honey Roasted Almonds Christmas Tree Lane  posted Crockpot Spiced Nuts A Day in the Life on the Farm  wrote about the Easiest Nut Brittle in the World Sew You Think You Can Cook  prepared Orange Rosemary Roasted Almonds Culinary Adventur