Pickled cherry peppers are the perfect addition to pretty much anything; sandwiches, salads, or even straight out of the jar as a snack. Since I tend to fly through a jar pretty quickly, it’s not uncommon to find a container half full of brine in the fridge with no peppers in sight. Instead of pouring it down the drain, which I fear too many people do, I use the spicy, salty, acidic brine in clever ways because the liquid is equally as delicious and even more versatile than the pickled peppers themselves.
The brine can be used for a ton of different things. It’s a delicious base to a vinaigrette, can add a spicy kick to a batch of Bloody Marys, or can be the secret ingredient that makes your queso the greatest of all time. But, my favorite way to use the piquant liquid is by quick-brining roast chicken and chickpeas for a sheet-pan supper.
In this recipe, the chicken is tossed with a can of chickpeas, finely chopped cherry peppers, some of the pickled pepper brine, a fat pinch of salt, pepper, and olive oil. After marinating for at least an hour, but preferably overnight, everything is roasted on a sheet tray until the chicken is cooked and the chickpeas are crisp. The hot, spicy chicken served over top a cool, creamy frisée salad that’s tossed in an herbaceous crème fraîche dressing.
If you find the chickpeas or chicken aren't browning to your liking, pop them under the broiler for the last few minutes of cooking to crisp the chickpeas and brown the chicken skin.
For the chicken:
bone-in, skin-on chicken legs
bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
(14-ounce) can chickpeas
sliced pickled cherry peppers, finely chopped
pickled cherry pepper brine
For the salad:
apple cider vinegar
freshly chopped chives
large bunch frisée, washed, dried, and roughly chopped
Place the chicken, chickpeas, chopped cherry peppers, brine, salt, and olive oil into a bowl and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour or up to eight.
When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 425°F. While the oven preheats, arrange the chicken and chickpeas on a foil-lined sheet pan. Pour any remaining brine over top of the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with an extra pinch of salt. Roast for 35 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked and chickpeas are crisp.
While the chicken roasts, prepare the salad. In a large bowl, whisk the crème fraîche, apple cider vinegar, salt, sugar, and chives. Set aside.
To serve, add frisée to the bowl and toss to dress. Plate the frisée and serve with a spoonful of warm chickpeas and a piece or two of chicken.
Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning Producer of the Rachael Ray Show, food writer and recipe developer. He's a contributor to Food52, Food Network Kitchen and Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine. He loves cookies, cocktails and kindness.