Well, isn’t this just the best thing ever since sliced bread, if you consider that something you can’t imagine life without. When asked what my favorite thing to make is, I can never come up with an answer. No favorite vegetable, no favorite dish. I just get so excited to eat and make whatever is fresh and tasty, and am eager to try new recipes. So I was SO excited when I made this super easy, super delicious chicken, a recipe I know I’ll have in my back pocket for those days I need something quick and yummy, whether for myself or company.
This genius recipe from Food and Wine makes such good use of leftover pickle juice. I’m a little obsessed with the spicy pickles from Maitland Mountain Farm (in Salem, MA) and always hate to throw out the juice, so I often keep it in the fridge in the event that I might use it for something else. Low and behold, chicken! Their full recipe is a bit more involved than what I did, since I just had bone-in chicken breasts on hand but not the chicken legs called for. Here’s the portion I did, but go over to F&W for the full recipe.
Spicy Pickle-Brined Chicken
- 4 bone-in chicken breasts (the bone provides more flavor, moisture, and nutrition than boneless)
- 2 cups brine from pickles, dill or spicy
- butter for pan
- additional spices – see note at the end of post – if you want to add more oomph to the brine
If possible, cut the chicken breasts in half with a sharp knife. Place the rinsed and dried chicken breasts in a glass bowl and cover with the pickle juice. Let the chicken breasts marinate overnight.
When ready to cook them, preheat the oven to 350F. Pat the chicken breasts dry. Heat a large cast iron or otherwise ovenproof skillet on the stove, melt a little pad of butter, and place the chicken breast halves skin-side down in the pan. Let cook for about 6 minutes, until the skin turns a nice, crispy golden brown. Flip and let cook for two minutes on the other side.
Pop the skillet in the oven and cook at 350 for about 25 minutes. They should be super juicy and flavorful when you take them out. When you take the chicken out, test it by gently pressing with a finger. If there’s a lot of give, they will likely need a couple more minutes. But if it feels firm, you’re done. Take care to not overcook; they will continue cooking for a few minutes after you remove them from the oven. Let them rest for 10 minutes before serving warm.
Next time, I think I’ll try serving with a sriracha-yogurt sauce. Just a little dab of sriracha mixed into yogurt. Yum!
If you’re on the North Shore and able to get Maitland Mountain Farm’s pickles, give that a go — no extra seasoning necessary. Although I’m sure that a simple, straight from the jar pickle brine would still make for delicious chicken, the spices and seasoning in Maitland’s is just so top notch that not only does the meat comes out very juicy, but it’s also incredibly full of flavor.
Maitland’s pickle brine has jalapeno, dil, cardamom, juniper berries, red pepper flakes, black pepper, among other delicious spices. They’re also coming out with a mild pickle this fall. If you’re not in MA/the North Shore, you could try adding some of those ingredients to your brine, to up the flavor ante.
If you are on the North Shore, they sell these pickles at many local food shops and farmers markets. (The Salem Farmers Market, The Meat House in Beverly, Common Crow in Gloucester, occasionally The Natural Grocer in Newburyport, etc.)