Make Ahead

Late Night Coffee Brined Chicken

April 21, 2011
Author Notes

Early in the week, I knew I wanted to combine coffee and orange. Yesterday, after sitting in my fridge defrosting for a day and a half, my whole chicken whispered to me "it's now or never." Since it was Wednesday, I did not have time for an overnight brine, so turned to Michael Ruhlman's quick brine. Substituting hot, freshly brewed coffee for water, I added cloves, star anise, whole black pepper and fresh oranges to the brine. Okay, brine finished, now how to proceed? A while back, I adapted Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk recipe and remembered how incredibly tender the finished chicken turned out. This time, with the coffee brine, cooking the chicken in milk seemed to make sense, and just to round out the coffee-milk pair, I rubbed the brined chicken in brown sugar before browning in a little butter. I was curious to see how it would turn out, and frankly a little nervous. When I took the chicken out at midnight, after an hour and forty minutes, the chicken was dark, splitting and sitting in a pool of rich sauce. Although not the prettiest bird I’ve ever seen to come forth from the oven, it was rich and flavorful, extremely tender (falling off the bone!) with sweet and smoky undertones. - gingerroot

Test Kitchen Notes

We nicknamed this recipe "Breakfast Chicken," since it includes all three arms of the morning triumvirate: coffee, orange juice and milk. Like pork braised in milk, gingerroot's roast chicken emerges from the pot tender and melting, and it has 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 fragance -- the flavor is subtle but discernable, and unlike anything we can recall. - A&M —The Editors

  • Serves 4
  • For the Chicken
  • 1 4 -5 lb 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 peppercorn
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 juicy navel oranges, halved
  • 15 ounces ice
In This Recipe
  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.

See Reviews

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nia Morales
    Nia Morales
  • Harry Rose
    Harry Rose
  • Valerie
  • Julie Utley Shehata
    Julie Utley Shehata
  • Valerie Delisle-gagnon
    Valerie Delisle-gagnon

Recipe by: gingerroot

My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love. Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.