My college friends will have their yearly Thanksgiving get-together next weekend, and due to people getting married, coupling up, etc. "Mangsgiving" has now reached a guest count of over 30. Last year, the hosts did a baked turkey and a deep fried turkey, and it wasn't quite enough.
So, this year I offered to do an extra turkey breast to supplement. I planned to brine the breast and cook it on the grill. However, I had never brined anything before, so I tested the process on some massive bone-in split chicken breasts. Brining locks in the moisture and keeps the meat tender and juicy. These are fabulous, either with a simple pan gravy or shredded for salads or pastas. Note that this is an overnight process, so start the day before you want to eat!
Brined and Roasted Bone-In Chicken Breasts
For the brine:
4 cups water + more to cover
1/4 c. kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, smashed
12 whole black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp. honey
4 large bone-in, skin on split chicken breasts
Bring 4 c. water just to a boil.
Stir in salt until it dissolves. Stir in honey until it dissolves. Add the remaining spices and remove from heat. Allow to cool.
Place chicken breasts in a large, sturdy Ziploc bag. Pour the brine mixture in. Add enough water to cover the chicken completely and shift the bag to mix everything together.
Set the Ziploc bag in a shallow pot in case you buy the cheap brand like me and it leaks. Put the pot in the fridge for at least 12 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400. Remove chicken from bag, discard brine.
Pat chicken dry with a paper towel.
Season generously with pepper, just a little salt (or none).
Roast chicken for 45 minutes.
Allow to cool and shred for salads or pastas. OR make a quick pan sauce by placing the roasting pan over high heat, deglazing with a can of chicken broth, whisking to scrape up the brown bits, and stirring in a tablespoon of butter and a handful of chopped fresh herbs.