Breakfast for dinner just got a whole lot better. Tonight, turn coffee, OJ, and milk into a brine and braising liquid for meltingly tender chicken.
We nicknamed this recipe "Breakfast Chicken," since it includes all three arms of the morning triumvirate: coffee, orange juice, and milk. And like those three amigos, the rest of the ingredients (save the chicken) are things you probably already have on hand: brown sugar, butter, and a few dark (you could even say "coffee-colored") spices.
Browned in the brown sugar and butter, and then braised in the milk, the chicken emerges from the pot falling-off-the-bone tender, with a beautiful burnished exterior wherever the skin hasn't been submerged in the liquid. The spiced coffee and orange brine infuses the meat with a smoky fragrance -- the flavor is subtle, but discernible, and unlike anything we can recall. It's so hauntingly good it'll keep you up late at night.
Late Night Coffee Brined Chicken
FOR THE CHICKEN
1 (4-5 pound) whole organic chicken
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups 1% milk
FOR THE COFFEE BRINE
1/2 liter hot, freshly brewed bold coffee
3 ounces kosher salt
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
3 star anise pods
1 teaspoon whole cloves
2 juicy navel oranges, halved
15 ounces ice
1. Combine salt, peppercorns, star anise, and cloves in a small pot. Lightly crush spices with the back of a large spoon. Squeeze orange halves over mixture, and then add halves. Pour hot coffee over mixture, stir and cover pot with lid. Allow brine to steep for ten minutes.
2. Meanwhile, pat chicken dry, removing giblets and neck. Place chicken in a 2 gallon sized zip lock or other plastic bag.
3. Place the ice in a large bowl. Add coffee brine and stir until ice melts. Pour brine in bag with chicken (including oranges), seal and allow mixture to sit at room temperature for two to three hours. Then pat chicken dry and let it dry out for an hour in a bowl placed in the refrigerator.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
5. Remove chicken from refrigerator, pat dry and rub both sides with brown sugar.
6. Heat butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat, brown chicken on both sides. Add milk, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook for an hour with the lid. Remove lid. Continue to cook for another 30-40 minutes, or until internal temperature of chicken is 165 degrees.
7. Pull meat off the bones and serve with wilted greens and rice. Be sure to spoon some of the sauce over the meat, if desired.