March 8, 2013

Slow-Baked Chicken with Onions

Brining makes meat juicier and enhances its flavor, but salt diffuses through flesh very slowly. You can double or triple the rate of diffusion by injecting the brine deep into muscle tissue. This is very easy to do using a butcher’s syringe, also called a meat injector. Meat injectors usually include two large needles: one has a slanted tip for marinades with spices, and one is perforated for diffusing liquids.

—adapted from Modernist Cuisine at Home

Recipe Tags

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Slow-Baked Chicken

Slow-Baked Chicken, Step 4

Fill a brine injector or syringe with the brine and inject it into the muscle without piercing the skin.

Slow-Baked Chicken, Step 6

Use a mandoline to thinly shave the onions.

Slow-Baked Chicken, Step 7

The onions not only add flavor but also prevent the meat from drying out as you slow-cook the chicken.

Slow-Baked Chicken, Step 9

Sear the chicken, skin-side down only, until the skin becomes brown and crispy, 2–3 minutes.

Slow-Baked Chicken, Step 10

Remove the seared chicken, and add the onions to caramelize.

Slow-Baked Chicken, final

Slice the chicken and sprinkle it with additional salt, to taste.

Tips & Substitutions

Steps 1– - 4
  • Before preheating your oven, calibrate it to ensure it goes as low as 75 °C / 170 °F and can hold this temperature throughout the cooking time. You may have to use the "warm setting." It is fine to use a slightly higher setting, but the cooking time may vary.
  • People tend to make brines with too much salt, which results in dense meat with a hammy texture. The brines in Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Cuisine at Home have salt levels that won't compromise the texture of the food.
  • Most meat injectors include two needles. For this recipe, you'll need the perforated needle that diffuses liquid.
  • Inject the brine as evenly as possible, taking care not to pierce the skin. To see this technique in action, watch our MDRN KTCHN video on injection brining.
  • Inject the brine slowly. The muscle will swell, which is normal, but if you inject the brine too quickly the muscle can burst.
  • Although you can buy chicken breasts and thighs from your butcher, it's better to buy a high-quality whole chicken and cut it up yourself. You'll save money, and you can use the remaining parts in other recipes.
Steps 5 - –11
  • Pat the chicken skin dry before baking. Wet skin can cool the chicken and cause it to cook more slowly or unevenly.
  • We like to use a mandoline to create very thin slices of onion.
  • The onions not only add flavor but also prevent the poultry from drying out as you slow-cook the meat at low-temperature.
  • Use an oven-safe digital probe thermometer to monitor the core temperature of the chicken.
  • It is necessary to hold the chicken breasts at 60 °C / 140 °F for an extra 20 minutes to ensure they are fully pasteurized.
  • For more on the science of lightly cooked food, see page xxv of Modernist Cuisine at Home.
  • It should only take 2–3 minutes to crisp the chicken, so be careful not to overcook it.
  • The onions should only take a few extra minutes to caramelize since they are thinly sliced and already slightly cooked.

Discussion

  1. Andrew April 21, 2014 Reply

    In steps 5-11 it says that it should only take 23 minutes to crisp up the chicken. For people who aren’t professional cooks … This might confuse them.

  2. Aaron Verzosa May 6, 2013 Reply

    On the pan is a kitchen towel, and on the kitchen towel is a piece of parchment. The chicken is on top of the parchment.

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