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I have just found the perfect way to cook chicken or turkey and make sure it’s always moist and full of flavours: by brining it before roasting! This recipe is so simple I’ll always brine poultry before cooking it! The gin and lime twist makes all the difference! It’s also ‘free from’ the top 14 allergens, making it the perfect free from Christmas recipe. The Top 14 Allergens: cereals containing gluten: wheat, rye, barley, oats if not GF, dairy, eggs,  soya, lupin, sesame, celery and celeriac, sulphites, mustard, fish, tree nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, brazils, pistachios, macadamia nuts), peanuts, molluscs, crustaceans. Recipe via www.lecoindemel.com

Gin Brined Turkey or Chicken for a ‘Free From’ Christmas

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 free-range chicken or turkey

For the brine:

  • water
  • 200 ml gin
  • sea salt 100 grams for every litre of liquid
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon Juniper berries
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled and crushed with the back of a wooden spoon
  • 1 onion peeled
  • Fresh thyme small handful
  • Rosemary 3 sprigs
  • Handful parsley with stalks
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 lemons halved
  • 1 lime halved
  • 1 red chili pepper whole

When roasting the chicken or turkey

  • 1 onion
  • 1 lemon or lime
  • 2 shots of gin
  • olive oil

Instructions

  1. You will need a large container to submerge the bird completely in the brine. I used my 28cm Le Creuset casserole dish, but you could use a large plastic bucket or a brining bag (a very large zip bag). Avoid aluminium pots.
  2. Start by placing the bird in your chosen container. Cover it with water mixed with the gin. Remove the bird and measure the water. As the ratio needs to be 10% of salt, if you have 5 litres of liquid, you will need 500g of salt (1kg for 10 litres of water etc.).
  3. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, stir in the salt until fully dissolved. Add in the chicken or turkey as well as all other ingredients, squeezing the lemon and lime halves before adding them to the pot.
  4. You will find that your bird wants to float, but it needs to stay under water level, so the best way to weigh it down is to put a plate over it before sealing your container or placing the lid.
  5. Leave in a cool place (ideally fridge or pantry) for 24 to 36 hours.
  6. Take the bird out of the brine, rinse it well under cold water, drain all water and pat it dry with a clean tea towel.
  7. Let it to rest on a large plate, uncovered, in the fridge for at least 3 hours. This stage is important if you are after crispy skin. Since it has been preserved in salt, you can leave it there overnight, uncovered with space around it so air can circulate.
  8. Take the bird out of the fridge at least one hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 220°C (Gas mark 7). Just before cooking, stuff a halved lemon and a peeled onion inside the bird. Rub a little olive oil on the skin, add 2 shots of gin on the tray and roast for 40 minutes. Lower the oven to 170°C (Gas mark 3) and cook for a further 2 hours or until the juices run clear. Make sure you baste the bird regularly to keep it lovely and moist.
  9. Take the bird out of the oven and allow to rest, uncovered, for at least half an hour before carving and serving.