I came across this recipe several years ago, but the word 'brined' scared me right away. I had no idea what that meant and it seemed much too complicated for me, so I just skipped right over it. But during the last holiday season, I heard so much about how amazing a brined turkey was, I knew I had to try it. So after learning that brining is actually really nothing more than marinading your meat in a mixture full of salt, I brined myself a turkey, and it turned out great! So when I re-discovered this recipe the other day, and I saw that 'brined word', I knew I could handle it. The original recipe instructed to throw some beans into a roasting pan before nesting the chicken thighs amongst them and cooking it all together. I cooked this up for our Sunday dinner last week, took it out of the oven, staged my pictures and then grabbed a green bean to do my taste test. I could have cried...they were horrible! They weren't completely cooked, but that was the least of their issues. The flavor was just dreadful and so strong and it was tough for me to even choke them down. So as we sat down to dinner, I gave my husband the cautionary warning that this dinner was probably a major fail. Then we each took our first bites and it turns out there was nothing to be worried about! We were so very pleasantly pleased with the chicken!! It was not only super simple to prepare, but it was some of the most amazingly flavorful, tender and delicious chicken I have ever made! I was so glad that the awful beans were not a pre-cursor to the rest of the meal. My whole family loved this chicken! Even my non-eating children ate this! This is a definite must-make again...without the beans....definitely no beans.
Apple Brined Chicken Thighs
3 cups apple cider or juice
1 medium onion, sliced
1 medium lemon, sliced
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar, divided
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns (I just used 1 teaspoon pepper because I didn't have any)
2 cups cold water
10 chicken thighs (original recipe said bone in...I used boneless with fantastic results!)
1 2-gallon resealable plastic bag
3 medium tart apples, cut into wedges
1 Tablespoon minced fresh Rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
In a pot, combine the cider, onion, lemon, rosemary sprigs, salt, 14 cup brown sugar, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir until the salt and brown sugar are dissolved. Remove from the heat; stir in water. Cool brine to room temperature.
Place chicken in the 2-gallon resealable plastic bag. Carefully pour cooled brine into bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible, seal bag and turn to coat. Place in a roasting pan. Refrigerate for 2 hours, turning occasionally.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a roasting pan. Place apple wedges in greased roasting pan. Drain chicken and place in prepared pan Bake, uncovered for 40 minutes.
Combine the minced rosemary, oil, pepper and remaining brown sugar. Sprinkle over chicken. Bake 15-25 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees. Discard apples and serve chicken.
Recipe Source: Adapted from Taste of Home
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