Cider-Brined Chicken with Red Rice, Acorn Squash, Kale
2 cup apple cider (Honeycrisp, if available)
1 cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
5 whole cloves
2 cloves garlic, crushed, skin on
¼ cup salt
2 cup ice
1 whole chicken, cut in eight pieces
4 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. fresh oregano, chopped
1 Tbs. salt
½ medium onion sliced
1 Honeycrisp apple, cored and cut in eighths
½ medium yellow onion, diced
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 cups red rice
1 acorn squash, peeled, seeds removed, large chunks
¼ cup canola oil
2 tsp. Penzey’s Old World Seasoning (or seasoned salt)
1 lb kale, ribs removed, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
Zest of half a lemon
1 tsp salt
To make the brine, bring cider to a boil with cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves, garlic, and salt. Simmer for 30 minutes then remove from heat and add ice. Adjust salt or water to yield a brine which tastes as salty as ocean water. Place chicken in 1 gallon freezer bag or large bowl and cover with brine. Place in refrigerator for 4 hours.
To bake chicken, heat oven to 475 degrees. Remove chicken from brine and dry with paper towel. Combine salt and oregano. Cut cold butter into eight pieces and roll each piece in oregano mixture, then place under the skin of each piece of chicken. Place chicken in pan just large enough to accommodate all pieces in one layer, skin side up. Tuck onion and apples around chicken pieces. Bake for 30 minutes then turn oven down to 350 degrees.
Toss acorn squash pieces in oil and spread on baking sheet in one layer, dust with seasoning. Place in oven with chicken. Heat one tablespoon oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, but not browned. Add rice and cook for an additional two minutes, stirring frequently to coat. Add broth and bring to boil. Then cover and reduce to simmer, continue to cook until tender, approximately 30 minutes.
Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, but not browned, and lemon zest, salt and kale. Toss frequently until wilted, just 2 minutes.
When the chicken has reached 160 degrees, approximately one hour, remove from pan and set aside covered for ten minutes. As chicken rests, stir the squash into the pan juices and allow to soak in the warm oven. When ready to serve, toss kale, rice, and squash together in a large bowl, then fill a platter with the mixture and top with the chicken. Serve family-style.
We elected to add a bit of mulled cranberries (recipe at the bottom of our Autumn post) to the meal which added a nice, tart counter-point to the sweet squash, but this dish can be served without. Though really more of a “autumn” dish based on flavors and seasonal availability of the ingredients, we enjoyed this in the still chilly days of early spring.