Nov 4, 2016

Dry-brined Roast Herb Chicken

Prep Time: 1 d
Cook Time: 1 hr
Drying and seasoning the chicken a day or two ahead of time acts as a dry-brine and results in evenly golden brown and crisp chicken skin and succulent, tender meat.

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Based on the famous recipe from Zuni café in San Francisco, the chicken is seasoned and stuffed with herbs before roasting. While the Zuni chefs opt for cooking in a brick oven, this is my “at-home” version.

I think my favorite part about roast chicken is eating the crisp flavorful chicken skin. I always sneak bites when I think no one is looking as I’m letting the chicken rest after it comes out of the oven. This roast chicken meat saves well, it stays tender when reheated so you can make this in the beginning of the week and repurpose it a ton of different ways like curry chicken salad, creamy cajun chicken pasta and shredded chicken breakfast bowls.

Dry-brined Roast Herb Chicken

What Does it Mean to Dry Brine Chicken?

Drying and seasoning the chicken a day or two ahead of time acts as a dry-brine and results in evenly golden brown and crisp chicken skin and succulent, tender meat. The dry brine works just as well as a wet-brine but is a much quicker method. Be sure to pat the chicken completely dry before cooking so that the chicken doesn’t steam in the oven rather than roast.

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Whole chicken – I love cooking a chicken whole because it’s significantly less expensive than buying multiple of one cut. There are so many opportunities to use the leftover meat from the chicken and it makes for an impressive entrée when hosting. Cooking a whole chicken allows guests to choose what type of meat they want – light meat or dark meat; thighs or legs.
  • Herbs – I use a combination of thyme, rosemary and sage in this recipe though they can be swapped for any combination of other herbs like marjoram or tarragon.

How to Make Dry Brined Roast Herb Chicken

  1. Dry the chicken. 1 to 2 days before serving this chicken rinse and pat completely dry. Gently slide your fingers between the breast and the skin to loosen the skin and make two pockets.
  2. Add herbs. Repeat with the chicken thighs. Push a sprig of thyme into each of the four pockets. Season generously with salt and pepper all over.
  3. Dry brine the chicken. Place in a roasting pan tented loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days. This allows air to still get in so the chicken skin dries out.
  4. Let the chicken come to room temperature. When ready to roast, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand for 30 minutes. Pat the chicken completely dry. Preheat the oven to 475ºF.
  5. Add butter under skin. Place the chicken breast-side up in a roasting dish or large oven-proof skillet. Slide the pats of butter under the skin.
  6. Add remaining herbs. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the mix of remaining herbs. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together.
  7. Roast the chicken. Roast the chicken for 45 minutes then baste the chicken with the pan juices and roast for another 10, until the chicken skin is crisp and the chicken is cooked through (the internal temperature should be 155ºF.
  8. Let rest and serve. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before carving.

Tips for Roasting Chicken

  • Bring your chicken to room temperature prior to roasting it so it cooks evenly.
  • Let the chicken rest before slicing and serving it. This keeps the juices inside.
  • It’s easiest to cook a chicken in a roasting pan with handles.
  • Trim any excess fat using kitchen shears.
  • Using an instant read thermometer helps to keep from overcooking the chicken. It is hard to give an exact cooking time for whole chicken because there can be many factors at play. A major factor is weight.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Dry-brined Roast Herb Chicken

Print Pin
Prep Time 1 d
Cook Time 1 hr
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3-pound) whole chicken
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 8 sprigs rosemary
  • 8 sprigs sage

Instructions:

  • 1 to 2 days before serving this chicken rinse and pat completely dry. Gently slide your fingers between the breast and the skin to loosen the skin and make two pockets.
  • Repeat with the chicken thighs. Push a sprig of thyme into each of the four pockets. Season generously with salt and pepper all over.
  • Place in a roasting pan tented loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days.
  • When ready to roast, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand for 30 minutes. Pat the chicken completely dry. Preheat the oven to 475ºF (250ºC).
  • Place the chicken breast-side up in a roasting dish or large oven-proof skillet. Slide the pats of butter under the skin.
  • Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the mix of remaining herbs. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together.
  • Roast the chicken for 45 minutes then baste the chicken with the pan juices and roast for another 10, until the chicken skin is crisp and the chicken is cooked through (the internal temperature should be 155ºF (68.3ºC).
  • Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before carving.

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