Thursday, April 16, 2009

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I’m a novice runner and when I hit the pavement, I’m usually slow but rarely steady (more like a “run/walker” than a runner). While I haven’t yet mastered the art of running the perfect race, I have mastered how to turn out a pretty tasty piece of chicken. The key is a little preparation, low heat and slow cookin’; it’s a winner every time.  

Preparation Part 1=Brining
If you don’t brine, you really must start. It is the difference between a dry, tasteless piece of chicken and a moist, succulent one with flavor that travels right down to the bone.
There are all sorts of brine recipes that you can play around with that utilize fruits, herbs, and even maple syrup.  Here is a basic brine recipe that is great for chicken breasts.

Brine Recipe:

• 1-quart cold water
• ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Morton kosher salt
• ½ cup of sugar
• Mix water, salt and sugar in a large bowl, stir to dissolve
• Put one pound of chicken in the brine (I use Ziploc bags, you can also use a large pan with a lid) and refrigerate for one hour
• Remove from the water and rinse REALLY well (at least 1 minute under cold water)
• Pat dry

Preparation Part 2=Dry Rub
You can go crazy with dry rubs, make your own, buy them in the store, it’s completely up to you. I personally like to play around with dry rubs that I find in the spice isle of the grocery store. Chef Heath Finnell of Café Bacchus is going to be sharing a few dry rub recipes with WV Living Food within the next couple of weeks that you may want to try out, stay tuned.

I like to mix a little bit of oil into the dry rub to ensure it sticks to the chicken. I’m told this technically makes it a wet rub, so if you’re a purist, leave the oil out.   As for me, I think it’s helpful AND it helps the chicken skin crisp up at the end of the cooking process.  Dry rub/wet rub, run/walk...such technicalities.

The slow and the steady 
• Preheat oven to 275 degrees
• Transfer the brined and rubbed chicken to a baking sheet
• Bake 2 hours (internal temperature should reach 165 degrees)
• Remove chicken from oven

The strong finish
My running partner tells me, "no matter how slow your race, always finish strong!"

• Adjust oven rack so it is close to the broiler
• Set oven to broil
• Broil chicken 5-10 minutes, until skin is crispy brown

We want to know, what is your favorite side dish for chicken?  Better yet, we want the recipe!  Feel free to post a comment to this post or send an email to 


  1. I truly enjoyed this recipe. Thank you. Keep up the good work, Joy Bell. We enjoy your articles and recipes.

  2. Joy - would it be alright to brine the chicken longer than an hour, ie. overnight?

  3. That is really an excellent question. While some brine recipes say you can brine longer than an hour, I have noticed that when the chicken is brined for longer, it turns out stringy, almost mushy in texture instead of firm and flavorful. It also becomes too salty. So while other recipes may compensate for this in the proportion of their ingredients, this one is best at one hour. Hope this helps.

    Happy brining,