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Pickle-Brined Chicken
© Simon Watson

Pickle-Brined Chicken

  • ACTIVE: 1 HR
  • TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS 45 MIN Plus overnight brining
  • SERVINGS: 4
  • MAKE-AHEAD
  • STAFF-FAVORITE

"When you have leftover pickle juice, isn't it a waste not to use it to make chicken taste delicious?" asks Frank Falcinelli. He brines chicken breast in dill-pickle juice to flavor it and keep it moist in the oven, then serves it on top of supertender leg meat he's shredded and mixed with sautéed chard.

  1. 4 chicken breast halves, on the bone (about 3/4 pound each), plus 2 whole chicken legs
  2. 2 cups brine from jarred dill pickles
  3. Freshly ground black pepper
  4. Salt
  5. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 3 medium onions, thickly sliced
  7. 2 carrots, thickly sliced
  8. 2 celery ribs, thickly sliced
  9. 1/2 cup semi-dry white wine, such as an off-dry Riesling
  10. 2 bay leaves
  11. 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  12. 4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  13. 2 pounds Swiss chard—thick stems and ribs removed, leaves coarsely shredded
  14. 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the chicken breasts with the pickle juice and a generous pinch of ground pepper. Seal the bag, pressing out any air, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°. Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the chicken legs and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until browned, about 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the onions, carrots and celery to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the wine, bay leaves and peppercorns.
  3. Return the chicken legs to the casserole. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for about 1 hour, until the meat is very tender. Transfer the chicken legs to a plate to cool slightly. Pull the meat from the bones; discard the bones and skin. Strain the cooking liquid and wipe out the casserole. Return the cooking liquid to the pot and boil until the sauce is reduced to 1 cup, about 25 minutes; keep warm.
  4. Meanwhile, raise the oven temperature to 350°. Pat the chicken breasts dry. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in an ovenproof skillet. Add the breasts, skin side down, and cook over high heat until golden, about 6 minutes. Turn and cook for 2 minutes longer. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the chicken for about 25 minutes, until cooked through. Transfer the chicken breasts to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil until shimmering. Add the Swiss chard and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat, tossing, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the shredded leg meat and half of the sauce. Spoon the chard and chicken onto plates and serve with the seared breasts. Drizzle the remaining sauce all around and serve right away.
Make Ahead The braised chicken legs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Suggested Pairing

Vinegary pickle brine is a tough match for wine, but a fruity, unoaked or lightly oaked white is probably the best option for this tangy chicken (and for the lightly bitter Swiss chard). Try a Chenin Blanc.