By: Stacey Viera, Non-poet
A chicken, with bones, weight of four pounds.
Doth await a bath of salt. But first! One halved orange. Bay leaves. Fresh herbs.
Into the saucepan a half-liter of water and salt of 100-gram mound.
Sweet, sticky cloves of garlic, smashed. Small onion, sliced. Heat all on high until the stillness is disturbed.
Covered, sitting, stewing, the glorious brine rests one-sixth of an hour.
The salty citrus herb mix melds with, melting 15 ounces of ice water.
In a vessel of plastic the chicken lies in wait, gaining power.
On the counter, minutes of nine score pass as tribute to the chicken’s slaughter.
Hark! Sweet brine, salt-impregnated liquid.
Your purpose is served, the hen now moist and tender.
Eschewing salmonella, I discard the fluid.
Stoke the coal fire of the grill. Enjoy the poultry in its charred-yet-juicy splendor.
Now, is this an actual ode? Kind of. I’m too literal a thinker to be a true poet. But stuff kind of rhymes and I’m paying homage to the brine, so it’s an ode. K?
Eating a brined chicken is a truly magical experience. (Clearly, as I bothered to write a damn poem about it.) The brine soaks into the skin and muscle tissue, making for a moist bird after cooking. In case you didn’t catch my drift in the above poem, here’s a more clear description of the recipe I used:
Citrus-Herb Quick Brine for a Whole Chicken
Adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s Lemon-Herb Brine for 1 Chicken, whole or cut into pieces
One 3- to 5-pound chicken
100 grams (3 ounces) kosher salt
1 orange, halved
1 or 2 bay leaves
Fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, whatever floats your boat)
500 mL (15 ounces) water
3 to 5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 onion, sliced
500 mL (15 ounces) ice water
Heat kosher salt, orange, bay leaves, herbs, garlic cloves, water and onion in a pan on high. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let sit 10 minutes. Stir in ice water until ice cubes are melted. Add in chicken. Place in a bag or – as I did – a big plastic container with a lid and let sit for about 3 hours on the counter. Our chicken wasn’t totally submerged, so we flipped it a couple of times throughout the brining period.
Remove the chicken, pat it dry, get rid of the brine (lest you wish to potentially contract salmonella). Then roast your chicken or spatchcock that bird and put it on the grill like we did. It’s beyond finger-lickin’ good.