Orange Ginger Brined Game Hen

by Gavan on November 12, 2009

Orange-Ginger-Thyme Brined Organic Chicken

Sick of regular roast chicken? Looking for something new to impress the fam bam? Here’s an easy-to-do recipe that’ll give you a delicious falvourful bird. (Sounds like an infomercial doesn’t it?)

That being said, I had a slight mishap with the photos. The bottom line is…..they were not up to scratch. I made this recipe for Spice Month as a simple but delicious recipe highlighting thyme but because I wasn’t happy with the photos I never ended up using it. While I never retook the photos I decided to have a change of heart posting the recipe because at the end of the day the most important thing is is that it’s really really tasty.

So please forgive the photos and trust me when I say “Just Cook It.”


5 lb organic chicken
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch thyme
1/2 an orange

Brine Recipe:

1 gallon water (or more)
1 cup salt
1 bunch of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup fresh ginger – chopped
1 large orange – cut in wedges
2 tbsp peppercorns

Brining is my secret weapon to ensure moist and tender birds. It’s a great technique to use especially with Thanksgiving coming up–we can all admit there’s nothing worse than a dry bird!  A wet brine typically uses water and salt sometimes combined with an assortment of herbs and spices for flavor. Submerging chicken (or turkey) in the flavored salted water for a good 24 hours infuses a ton of flavor and moisture into the flesh so that the bird comes out moist and juicy not dry and flaky.

You’ll want to use a large enough bowl or container for the bird to be fully emerged. Place all brine ingredients in the bowl followed by the chicken. Add more water if necessary to make sure the entire bird is covered. Refrigerate for 24 hours in order to maximize flavor.


Remove brine from fridge 1 hour before cooking.

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Drain the bird and rinse in cold water. Lay on kitchen towel and pat dry. Stuff some kitchen towels in the cavity of the bird to soak up excess water.
Once the bird is reasonably dry, lay on foiled oven tray. Drizzle olive oil all over the skin, sprinkle with S&P and massage seasoned oil into the skin. Stuff the cavity with the thyme and the half orange.

Pour broth on the tray surrounding the chicken and pop in the oven for 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours. This is another one of my special techniques. The broth will help create steam in the oven and along with the brine, it creates a fantastically moist bird.
Once cooked (internal temp 165°F) let rest for 10 minutes before carving. This allows the meat to relax and the keeps the juices in the bird and not all over your cutting board.

NOTE: To check to see if it’s done, cut between the drumstick and the breast and if the juices run clear you’re good to go.

Don’t forget to save your chicken carcass for making homemade chicken stock!

All recipes are made with the finest quality farmers market whole foods, natural and non-processed ingredients as much as possible.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin December 9, 2009 at 11:44 am

This recipe sounds good, but I had a few questions. First, why go to the trouble of drying the outside and cavity of the bird if you are going to pour broth on the tray surrounding the chicken so as to keep the oven humid and end up with a moist bird? Does drying the chicken really make any difference? Second, do you find that the carcass of a brined bird is too salty to make stock? Thanks.

Gavan Murphy aka the H.I. December 9, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Hey Justin, Great questions, man. By drying the bird, especially the skin, it helps get it crispy with the olive oil on it. If the skin was wet it wouldn’t crisp up as nicely and the olive oil would just run off it. It’s not crucial to dry up everything in the cavity but out of habit I’ve always done it and also I find that sometimes in chickens or turkey there’s still some blood in the cavity from the insides so I like to clean that up before I cook the old dear.
Also I’ve found that brining adds additional flavour to the stock. Most of the brining flavour will be in the meat, which is the point so you’ll just have the great leftover flavour in the carcass.
Thanks for the input.

Terry May 22, 2010 at 11:45 am

Just a note..while doing my herb garden, I was looking for different herbs to plant…well, I came upon ginger mint and orange and lemon thyme…wow, new for me…I thought it my be great for this recipe…also I found pineapple mint last year and love it in my salads!!!

Gavan May 25, 2010 at 5:08 pm

I love those flavoured herbs. I was looking for lemon thyme at the weekend but it’s not available yet and my local farmers market.
I’ve never heard of pineapple mint so I’ll have to check that out.
Cheers Terry

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