Brining is an opportunity to bring flavor directly into the meat, instead of just onto it. Most importantly, brining brings and traps moisture directly in the meat. So, you could easily make a brine just with the water, salt and brown sugar (or honey, granulated sugar, molasses, etc). Your chicken will still be instantly better than it would have been without a good brining.
For the brine:
1 gallon water
1 cup salt
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 large bunch fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 large bunch italian parsley
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
½ cup whole garlic cloves, smashed, skins left on
10-12 bay leaves
1-2 roasting chickens, 2-4 pounds each
For the roasted chicken:
1 brined chicken
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4-6 garlic cloves, minced (depending on how much you like garlic)
1 cup Lemon Curd
Juice of 1 lemon, juiced halves saved
1 lemon, halved
Step 1: Brine the chicken
Combine all the ingredients for the brine in a large stockpot and place over high heat. Bring everything to a boil. Boil for one minute, stirring until all the salt and brown sugar is dissolved. Take the pot off the heat and let cool completely (do not add raw meat to warm brine.) It works well to make the brine the day before you need it and store in the refrigerator. This recipe makes enough for two small chickens, or one large one.
Remove giblets pouch from central cavity of the chicken and rinse chicken under cold water. Add the chicken(s) to the brine. Weigh down with a plate to make sure chicken is completely submerged. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours.
Step 2: Roast the chicken
Remove chicken from the brine. Rinse under cold water and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon curd to loosen it. Add the lemon juice to the curd and whisk to combine until smooth. Set aside.
Starting at the neck cavity, loosen the skin from the flesh. Working your way from breast to drumstick, gently separate the skin of the chicken from the flesh. Combine the chopped rosemary, chopped thyme, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Rub the mixture all over the chicken’s flesh, under the loosened skin. Stuff the central cavity of the chicken with the reserved juiced lemon halves and whole lemon halves. Tie the drumsticks together with butchers twine. Tuck the wing tips under the chicken or tie the wings down to the chicken’s sides.
Place chicken in cast iron skillet, heavy-bottomed skillet or roasting pan breast side up. Brush half (about a half cup) of the lemon curd all over the chicken. Place chicken in center of oven. Roast for 40 minutes, checking the bird every 15 minutes. If skin is browning too quickly, cover with a piece of aluminum foil. After 30 minutes, brush another quarter of the lemon curd all over the chicken.
The chicken is ready when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the chicken from the oven and brush the remaining lemon curd all over it. Allow the chicken to rest for at least 15 minutes before you carve it.