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Chicken with Root Veggies and Eggplant Ragout

(recipe, Jake Benner)

Introduction

So, we had these wonderful local, free range, organic whole chicken legs. I was interested in doing on two things: brining and braising. And, I had these root veggies and eggplant. This was pretty hearty, yet tangy and delicious. Brining made for a very juicy bird. We used vinho verde for the wine.

Ingredients

  1. Brine:
  2. ¼ cup sea salt
  3. ¼ cup sugar
  4. 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  5. 6 cups water
  6. 1 Tbsp. Peppercorns, crushed
  7. 1 Tbsp. Fennel Seed, crushed
  8. 3 to 4 Whole Chicken Legs
  9. ⅛ cup sea salt
  10. 1 large eggplant, sliced in ¼ in. rounds
  11. 2 large onions, chopped coarse
  12. 5 carrots, sliced into ¼ in. pieces
  13. 3 med turnips, cut into ½ in. matchsitcks
  14. 6 cloves garlic, smashed and unwrapped
  15. 1½ cups bright white wine of choice
  16. 3 Tbsp. Olive oil
  17. 1 Tbsp. Dried Thyme
  18. 2 tsp. Rosemary
  19. salt
  20. crushed black pepper
  21. 1 Tbsp. flour

Steps

  1. At least 6 hours ahead, brine the chicken: Dissolve ¼ C. salt, ¼ C. sugar in water, add vinegar, peppercorns, fennel seed (crush the latter two). Place whole, skin-on chicken legs in large pot, cover with cool brine liquid (adding more water to cover if necessary). Refrigerate.
  2. At least 1 hour ahead, brine the eggplant in water with ⅛ C. sea salt. Refrigerate.
  3. After brining time (6-8 hours), remove chicken from brine solution and rinse and pat dry. Salt and pepper the chicken legs on both sides.
  4. Preheat oven to 345 deg.
  5. Prepare large frying pan on medium heat. Add 3 T olive oil. Brown chicken legs, skin side first, on all sides, then set aside.
  6. In same pan, add onions, carrots. Saute until softened.
  7. Add garlic cloves and turnips. Stir to combine vegetables. Allow pan to return to heat, then add wine to deglaze, scraping up any brown chickeny bits.
  8. Place sauteed vegetables and all juices into casserole large enough to hold all vegetables and chicken. Lay chicken legs, skin up, atop bed of vegetables. Cover entire dish with a single layer of the eggplant rounds. Brush eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs.
  9. Place casserole in oven, uncovered. Cook for 1 to 1¼ hours. Let temperature of chicken legs rise to 160 with a meat thermometer inserted into deepest part of leg.
  10. When chicken is cooked, remove roasted eggplant rounds to saute pan. Remove chicken to resting place. Spoon root vegetables, sans liquid into separate dish. Pour all remaining liquid into saute pan with eggplant.
  11. Bring saute pan with eggplant to medium heat, add ½ C white wine. Dissolve flour in 3 T water, then add to saute pan and stir on med-low until ragout to thickens.
  12. Serve chicken on a bed of root vegetables then cover with eggplant ragout.