How Daniel Boulud Brines His Famous Roast Chicken

Daniel Boulud is a globally recognized chef who has built a culinary empire. With multiple Michelin stars and many James Beard awards under his belt, he is certainly no stranger to using luxe ingredients like truffles and caviar, but Boulud is also highly noted for his impeccable take on a mid-week classic: roast chicken. The secret to his profoundly juicy and flavorful signature chicken is a secret that many of us hold, but tend to reserve for Thanksgiving turkeys: brining. 

On an episode of "The Rachael Ray Show," Boulud explains that his brining solution starts with water infused with thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. After straining the solids from the water, he adds kosher salt and honey and warms it until the salt is dissolved. Boulud says this method "creates a brine that is almost like seawater." He adds more water to the mixture, cools it completely, and places a whole roasting chicken in the brine for 45 minutes in the refrigerator. His recipe instructs followers to then remove the chicken from the brine and let it sit and dry uncovered in the fridge overnight. 

The next day, Boulud stuffs the chicken cavity with garlic, herbs, and lemon, rubs the skin with butter, and roasts it. Once the roasting pan has accumulated some melted chicken fat in the bottom, Boulud takes a tied bundle of herbs (Rachel Ray describes it as "a brush made of herbs"), dips it into the drippings, and bastes the chicken while it's cooking.

Resting time is important, too

When the chicken is done cooking, Boulud believes that resting it for a substantial period of time is vital. You'll want to let the chicken sit for a good 20 to 30 minutes before you cut into the bird so it retains the maximum amount of moisture and the residual heat distributes evenly throughout. His brined, roasted chicken should be exceptionally juicy as a result of the salt water, which alters the protein strands, causing the meat to retain its natural moisture as the honey creates a beautiful golden-brown skin through caramelization.

Boulud has undoubtedly made a lot of chicken during his career but he tells Rachael Ray on her show that this method makes "the perfect roast chicken," adding that he likes to serve it with cheesy potatoes au gratin.

Even the best chefs in the world enjoy good, simple comfort food just like us home cooks. But they certainly have all the best tips for them, too.