Feta Brine Is The Unassuming Ingredient Your Roasted Chicken Needs

The allure of the roasted chicken is strong. The crackling skin, juicy meat, and liquid gold of the rendered drippings call to chefs and home cooks alike. That's probably why there are so many approaches to the iconic dish, from techniques to more evenly cook the chicken to secret ingredients that are meant to take the bird to the next level. Brining sort of falls into both categories — a technique that's meant to impart deep seasoning and juiciness. However, if you're looking to add even extra flavor, try this unique brining technique to take things up a notch. 

Use the leftover liquid from a container of feta cheese, instead of just using a typical brine of salt and water. Feta cheese, a staple of Mediterranean cuisine, has a distinct tangy and salty flavor that adds a delightful complexity to dishes. Often, after finishing a container of feta cheese, we find ourselves throwing away the leftover brine, not realizing its untapped potential. By repurposing the liquid that surrounds the cheese, you're making the most of your ingredients and being more sustainable. 

How to use feta liquid to brine a chicken

Getting your hands on feta brine is as easy as buying a tub of the salty cheese and reserving the cloudy liquid it is packed in. It may take several tubs of feta, depending on their size, for you to get enough to brine your chicken. Store the feta brine in a jar or other container in the fridge as you accumulate it. Its salt content should prevent spoiling for quite some time. Conversely, you could visit a cheesemonger and inquire about purchasing brine in larger quantities.

For an average chicken, you'll want about four to five cups of feta brine. Once you have this, combine the chicken and brine in a large, airtight bag or other container and allow the brine to work its magic for at least eight hours, though overnight is recommended. After brining, the chicken should be allowed to come up to room temperature before being roasted however you like.

To take your feta-brined chicken to the next level, consider serving it with a fresh Mediterranean-inspired salad. A mix of juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, Kalamata olives, and creamy cubes of feta cheese dressed with lemon juice and olive oil will complement the flavors of the chicken beautifully. For a more substantial meal, serve the tangy chicken alongside some fluffy couscous or a bed of lemon-infused rice pilaf.