Brined and stuffed roast chicken with honeyed brussels sprouts

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You could make this without brining the chicken, but it elevates the flavour, seasons consistently and increases the moisture content of the flesh, making the meat incredibly succulent. It's also quite a forgiving method if you overcook the bird a little. Roasting the sprouts gives them a delicious, nutty character, which works beautifully with the sweetness of the honey.

Brined and stuffed roast chicken with honeyed brussels sprouts.<b>Photo:</b> Marcel Aucar.
Brined and stuffed roast chicken with honeyed brussels sprouts. Photo: Marcel Aucar.


200g table salt (non-iodised)

2.5 litres water

1.6kg (size 16) chicken, preferably organic free-range

8 slices pancetta, finely sliced

4 cloves garlic

1/2 white onion, finely diced

5 slices sourdough rye, toasted or grilled and rubbed with a garlic clove

1 handful parsley leaves, chopped

4 sprigs thyme, picked

40g grana padano, finely grated

200g creme fraiche

75ml white wine vinegar

freshly ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil

50 brussels sprouts, trimmed

salt flakes

4 tbsp honey

1 tsp celery seeds


1. In a non-reactive container that will fit the bird reasonably snugly, completely dissolve the salt in the water. Submerge the bird in the brine, making sure the cavity fills with liquid. You can weigh the bird down with a plate to keep it submerged, and if you need more liquid simply add more water with dissolved salt (keeping the same ratio). Refrigerate overnight or for at least eight hours. When ready to cook, remove from the brine and dry well with a paper towel.

2. Preheat your oven to 180C fan-forced or 200C conventional.

3. Fry the pancetta for about two minutes in a pan over high heat. Add the garlic and onion and fry for about three minutes or until softened (you can add a splash of oil if the pancetta doesn't render out enough fat).

4. Put the pancetta mixture into a bowl. Roughly tear in the bread and add the parsley, thyme, grana padano, creme fraiche, vinegar and some pepper (you won't need salt) and combine well with your hands. Fill the cavity of the chicken with the stuffing and truss the legs together. Season the skin with pepper but no salt, rub with oil and place in a dish with enough space around it for the brussels sprouts. Roast for 40 minutes.

5. After 40 minutes, toss the sprouts in a little oil, season and scatter around the bird. Roast for another 35 minutes. Drizzle the honey over the sprouts and scatter over the celery seeds and cook for a further 10 minutes. Rest the chicken for 10 minutes before carving and serve with the stuffing, sprouts and juices from the pan.



1. Always use a non-reactive container for brining, such as food-grade plastic, stainless steel, ceramic or glass (never use aluminium).

2. Dissolving the salt in cold water isn't always that efficient, so just stir the salt through some warm water before adding cold.

3. You could use mascarpone in the stuffing instead of creme fraiche.

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  • Main Ingredients - Chicken, Brussels sprouts, Bread
  • Course - Dinner, Lunch, Main-course
  • Occasion - Family meals, Christmas

6 comments so far

  • I would be very interested to know why you recommend non-iodised salt.

    Why is that?

    Date and time
    June 26, 2014, 1:41PM
    • It is typically recommended that iodised salt is not used in a brine as it can impart a bitter or metallic note to the meat. Not everyone thinks that this is an issue though. I wouldn't worry unduly about using iodised salt, but it is typically recommended not to.

      Karen Martini
      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 10:40AM
  • I would also be interested to know why an aluminum dish is also contra-idicated. Aluminum cookware is pretty inert stuff.

    Date and time
    June 27, 2014, 3:55AM
    • Google says:
      "Aluminum, copper, iron, and steel (not 'stainless') are all reactive. They conduct heat very efficiently, and therefore, do a great job of cooking our food evenly. However, these metals are reactive with acidic and alkaline foods. If you're cooking with ingredients like tomatoes or lemon juice, your food can take on a metallic flavor, especially if the cooking time is very long. Light colored foods, like eggs, can develop gray streaks."

      Date and time
      June 27, 2014, 2:24PM
  • The chicken was succulent, the stuffing a revelation and the sprouts nutty and delicious. I found the salt a little overwhelming, however. Could I use less for the brine or does it need to be that ratio of salt to water to work properly?

    Date and time
    July 06, 2014, 9:02PM
    • Brining solutions will usually vary between 5% and 8%, you could certainly drop the salt to 5%, or 50g per litre, and still get the benefits of brining with a less salty result.

      Karen Martini
      Date and time
      July 16, 2014, 9:36AM

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