Friday, November 16, 2012

Daring Cooks' November 2012 ~Brining and Roasting/ North Kerala Stuffed Chicken

Audax of Audax Artifax was our November 2012 Daring Cooks’ host. Audax has brought us into the world of brining and roasting, where we brined meat and vegetables and roasted them afterwards for a delicious meal!
A while back, one November, Food Network aired a special prior to Thanksgiving, a sort of Q&A on the how- to's of the big meal. Of course, turkey brought in major mention, and in tow came the discussion on the needs and basics of brining that turkey. After the viewing, which I later went on to bookmark twice, the calling to brine has always been first up in prepping good bird. So start Thanksgiving eve, my multi gallon bird bath begins. Which, by the way started out in a black double lined trash bag (since then I have graduated to a pot the size of a medium ground well, used only and solely for the purpose), replete with apple cider, salt handfuls, two sugars, a few cloves and bulbous heads of garlic. Almost everything but the kitchen sink( if need be, too), goes into saturating the day's star.
It was from there, my brine trials continued, extending into beloved fryer recipes, as well. The spicy fried chicken you most definitely should check out here is always moist because of it's overnight buttermilk soak.

Knowing the secret of brine made me feel that cut above, where this excellent way of preparing meats was my secret and not yours, ha, ha and ha. Well, the month's challenge on Daring Kitchen changed all that, eye opener it was, clearing my Pooterish mind of incorrect brining after effects, still yet, opening up an enlightening avenue, of the what, the where, the how much and how longs of a good soak. You see, people there is a whole science behind moist, roasted food, and it must be taken seriously.

Audax says, "Brining works in accordance with two principles, called diffusion and osmosis, these two principles like to keep things in equilibrium (or in stable balance). When brining a fowl for example, there is a greater concentration of salt and sugar outside of the fowl (in the brine) than inside the fowl (in the cells that make up its flesh). The law of diffusion states that the salt and sugar will naturally flow from the area of greater concentration (the brine) to lesser concentration (the cells). There is also a greater concentration of water, so to speak, outside of the fowl than inside. Here, too, the water will naturally flow from the area of greater concentration (the brine) to lesser concentration (the cells). When water moves in this fashion, the process is called osmosis. Once inside the cells, the salt and, to a lesser extent, the sugar causes the cell proteins to unravel, or denature."

Those proteins that unravel drastically change your roasting results, be it poultry, red meat, fish or other, all for the better.

In other words, this birdie's getting punch drunk. Where it loses it's natural qualities and it's whole structure gets a reboot.

So, the song that starts on the DC challenge page, I play over to you. Chirrup buddies, you are one step away from being the skilled roaster, having never to associate with unsucculent, dried up substance again.

Brining Times~Meats, seafood, vegetables, nuts or seeds can all be brined. The length of time meat soaks in a flavour brine depends on the type of meat and its size, as well as the amount of salt used in the brine—the saltier the brine mixture, the shorter the soaking time. Kosher salt  and table salt are the most common salts used in brining. Generally brining takes from ½ hour to 2 days.

The secret of the air dry~Once brined and out, you must air dry, chicken( in this case). Since I was going in for my a spice rub, I dried the whole parts and inside the cavity off with paper towels, which I suggest you do before applying anything over it's skin for seasoning.
Roasting Tips~Roasting can take up to 2 hours for most pieces of meat, for large poultry 6-7 hours.When brined cuts of meat are roasted, the skin needs to browned at first at a hotter temperature. Then the oven gets lowered to reduce moisture loss in the roasted food. It is important to rest (loosely covered in foil) your roast so that the moisture can redistribute itself in the meat, it greatly adds to the final tenderness of the cooked product.
I nearly tripled my new found all purpose brine to dunk my whole chicken, tossed in smashed heads of garlic, an inch of ginger, peppercorns, of course, also the couple of bay leaves.

The idea to do this lovely style of chicken, bearing the stamp of my homestate Kerala's Northern regions, came in part from the one episode prior, in trying my hand at this self same recipe, eons ago. A desperate effort that came to epic fail results. Ever since, I wanted to revisit with a better game plan in hand. Here, I have finally arrived

All Purpose Brine~
Makes 4 cups of brine enough for about one pound (½ kg) of meat. This is the brine to use for most cuts of meat and poultry that will be roasted.

  • 4 c of cold water 
  • ¼ c table salt or ½ cup Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
  • optional 2 tbsp  sugar 
  • optional 3-4 peppercorns, a few springs of herbs, a garlic clove or two, a knob of ginger etc. 

  • Heat 1 cup of water to boiling point add the salt and stir until all the salt has totally dissolved.
  • Place in a non-reactive container (glass, plastic, stainless steel, zip-lock bags etc). Add the remaining water and stir. Make sure that all the salt has dissolved. Wait until the brine has reached room temperature.
  • Add your cut of meat make sure that the meat is completely submerged (that is totally covered in the salty water) if need be you can weigh down the cut of meat with a clean plate (etc). If using plastic bags make sure that the meat is totally covered in brine and make sure that is bag is locked securely.
  • Cover the container with plastic wrap to prevent odours contaminating the flavour brine or the brine leaking.
  • Place the container into the refrigerator for the soaking time (3-8 hours for chicken).
  • If desired you can air-dry your poultry (usually over night) in the refrigerator if you wish to have crispy skin on your bird. It is best to pat dry your brined item (inside and out) with paper towels before cooking.
  • Cook the brined item as directed .
  • You can substitute all or some of the water with a combination of wine, cider, beer, tea, coffee, fruit juice, most sauces, chicken stock, beef stock or fish stock. Be careful with acidic liquids like wine, cider, fruit juices which can turn your meat to mush if brined too long.
  • A little sugar can help overcome the saltiness of the brine and helps to give a nice sheen to your piece of meat when roasted. You can use up to ¼ c of sugar (use the lesser amount (2 tablespoons) for high temperature roasting since the brine can burn at high heats if you use too much sugar). You can use brown sugar or honey or other sweeteners also.
  • Any combination of spices and herbs can be used to flavor the brine.

Dry chicken marinade~
  • 2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ginger power
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt or enough to flavor

  • Mix all the powders and together in a bowl.

~Check out the egg masala, used for my stuffing in the puffs. A word of warning, the eggs get cooked further in the roasting (not much of a problem tastewise, I think). You may want to consider soft boiling them. A few tweaks/upgrades: I sliced in an extra onion, chopped up a tomato, which I wilted along with the first ingredients. The texture was also enhanced with sesame seeds tempered along mustard seeds, likewise I threw in ¼ c raisins (optional), ¼ c cashews (optional) towards the end. Finally, there is the ¼ c canned coconut milk plus ¼ c water combined, boiled with the rest of the elements to a thick gravy concentration. On many accounts, the gravy for this is made separately, here I just combined it all into one pot. 
Not sitting pretty and most certainly odd. Eggs come out of bird, not go back in, right? Though one bite of this unparalleled piece of chicken awesomeness will transform you to think from the other end. Do yourself the favor and have a taste and see. And, tell me I was right.

North Kerala Style Chicken Roast~
  • 1 3-4 lb. whole chicken, cleaned and innards taken out
  • 1 part chicken dry marinade
  • 1 part egg masala
  • Brine the whole chicken in the flavoured brine in the refrigerator  4-6 hours or overnight. (Make sure that every part of the chicken is covered in the brine you can weigh the bird down with a clean plate so it is completely submerged.)
  • Discard the brine and dry the skin and inside of the bird with paper towels.
  • Use your chicken marinade and rub onto all sides, all over the chicken, getting between skin and flesh as well.
  • Set aside for 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Stuff the egg masala into the cavity of the chicken lightly, eggs first, gently squeezing in only the few that fit. (you can serve the rest alongside the chicken), a bit of the onion mixture after that. Reserve the remaining gravy to pour over the bird after the final bake. Alternately you can close the openings with skewers or cooking twine. I do neither. 
  • Roast on 425°F for 15 minutes.
  • Reduce oven to 350°F and roast for an additional hour upto an hour and a half, loosely covering the chicken with foil. Done-ness should be when the internal temperature is 165°F, or the juices  run clear when you pierce the bird between the leg and thigh.  
  • Rest for approximately 30 minutes covered loosely in foil.
  • Cover chicken with remaining curry gravy.
The whole bird stuffing gala made me think it might end in another catastrophic conclusion. But no, this time, I brined for moistness and roasted to beautiful crisp skinned goldenness. Hands down, this was a best, one made to be revisited many times, year round. The recipe and the ingredients alone gave it first rate flavor dimension, but the bird itself moved up to the Sensational, enhanced specifically by it's method of preparation.

I used 6 eggs, them providing an ample enough one meal for four. Tucked into this four pound chicken, the whole thing will make it to a couple of dinners or perhaps a dinner and smashing next day leftover lunch.

Great thanks and many cheers to Audax for our challenge, running us through those drills and skills needed to make the ultimate brine and roast. Indeed, many of us, with Thanksgiving coming up in a few, will be heaving the long sighh of relief and gratitude to you, our roasted turkeys all ready, set to carve and done to faultless succulence. Hip, hip and hurrah!
Decided to be inspired by nature for the day (?) Took some pictures on the whim, why not share? It could work as a peace offering to the Daring Cooks for my triple day late challenge entry. Sorry :-/
"When fear comes knocking at your door, send faith to answer." Joyce Meyer


  1. You maybe late but you did an amazing job!
    The color of your bird is mouth watering

    1. Aww Sawsan, you are such an encourager, especially for the fine job (on time) you always do. Thanks, friend.

  2. The pictures are absolutely fab! The zesty flavor of the chicke. And the eggy flavor of the egg balances out evenly and it brings out a really good flavor! I am going to make my thanksgiving turkey exactly like this!!

    1. Thank you AJ. I superlovve you description ;-)

  3. Vayyil kappal odikkaam,drooling drooling..Though a bit time consuming but worth the efforts for all festivities & occasions,yumm:)
    Join my ongoing EP events-Asafoetida OR Fennel seeds @ Divya's Culinary Journey

    1. Satyam. My whole meal slipped down my throat because of that :-) Thanks Julie.

  4. My word your North Kerala Styled Roast Chicken looks and sounds delicious. The colour you got on the skin is outstanding well done on this challenge. I love the spice mix that you used and the egg masala sounds exotic to my ears. Kudos to you from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    1. Thank you Audax :-D Grateful for the step by step and details for bringing me up to mark in my brining and roasting skills.

  5. What a perfectly cooked and flavoured chicken my friend :)

    Choc Chip Uru

  6. This is the best stuffed chicken recipe...following you.

    1. Thank you Vidya, I think so too. Thanks also for the follow.

  7. wish I could have that on my table... awesome

    1. Thanks Reshmi. I must say, it is a brilliant way to make chicken.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!