Ever heard of brining your bird? Soaking your bird (chicken or turkey) in a simple brine before roasting really does result in a delicious roast. I highly recommend it!!
Here's a recipe that I use to brine chicken or turkey - it can also be used for pork roast, although I've never tried that. It comes from Chez Panisse. Use a whole recipe for a turkey, half for a chicken. Also, this recipe calls for juniper berries. You can find them at specialty cooking stores or World Market. If you can't find them, just skip it...I've made it a number of times without the berries and it was wonderful.
If you make the whole recipe, it makes a LOT of brine, so you'll need a big pot in which to submerge the roast. Also, you'll have to plan ahead for soaking time - a day for poultry, 3 days for pork - and they must be fully defrosted...so plan accordingly!
Chez Panisse Brine
2 1/2 gal. of cold water
2 c kosher salt (table salt works well, too)
1 c sugar
2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
1 bunch fresh thyme, or 4 T dried thyme
1 whole head of garlic, peeled
5 whole allspice berries, crushed
4 juniper berries, crushed
Prepare the brine and soak: place the water in a large pot that can easily hold the liquid and the meat you intend to brine. Add all the ingredients and stir for a minute or so until the sugar and salt to dissolve. Refrigerate poultry in brine for 24 hours; pork for 3 days. If the meat floats to the top, use a plate or other weight to keep it completely submerged in the brine.
To roast: Poultry - stuff cavity with desired herbs (chicken: onions, lemon wedges, herbs such as thyme, parsley, rosemary/ turkey: lemons, herbs, onions as desired). Rub the skin with oil to help browning; sprinkle with fresh pepper - salt is not needed due to the salt in the brine. Cook uncovered in a 400-degree oven until done (about 1 hr 15 min for a 3-4 lb chicken or 12-15 minutes per pound for a turkey). Boneless pork roast: Sprinkle the roast with pepper and herbs such as sage, thyme or tarragon,if desired. Roast uncovered in a 400-degree oven for about 12-15 minutes per pound.
I think you'll find that even the leftovers stay wonderfully moist!
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