Thursday, February 14, 2013

Roasted Arugula Butter Chicken

I think I've been watching the C. dogs for about three or four  years now. It's kind of a recurring annual gig ... usually in a fall or winter month, and somehow it very often involves chicken. The first time was in November 2009, and I came up the night before their departure to get the lay of the land and the dogs' overall routine. D. made the most delectable chicken for dinner and I was enthralled - enthralled I tell you! - with its juiciness and the overall power packing flavor it had going on, which led me to finally understanding just how awesome brining can be. Since that meal I have become a complete brining convert, which in turn has changed my approach to dressing the bird. Back in the day I'd make a cilantro butter and liberally insert it between the chicken's skin and flesh. This led to a solid tasting chicken, but it was a lot of butter. Now that I brine, I hold the butter and generally do a slightly simpler preparation. It's good to evolve and change your cooking habits, especially if the results don't impact taste at all but may be slightly better for your heart or arteries. That said, when D. noted that she had left a chicken in the fridge if I was interested, I was very much ready to turn that chicken into dinner. This involved a brine of salt/sugar/lemon/garlic/thyme and about four-ish hours of brining. Then, because I had a huge bag of arugula, I figured that I might see how a brined chicken with arugula/garlic butter might work out. I'll tell you what, it worked out pretty good.
I also threw a few potatoes into the mix, which soaked up a lot of the juices of the pan. I did a better job than I sometimes do of patting the chicken dry after its time in the brine, which allowed for slightly more crispy skin than I sometimes manage. The house began smelling so tasty it was difficult to wait til the chicken was actually cooked to dig in. But of course I managed to hold out; salmonella and I aren't friends. We've never really met and I'd definitely like to keep it that way. The remainder of the Chateauneuf du Pape went quite nicely with the heartiness of this chicken dish. I was grateful for the ready ingredients and glad it turned out well. Thanks to the C.'s for the well stocked pantry and relaxing and quiet weekend away!

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