paper plate in the sun with fried chicken and pickles on it
Faith Kramer's Pickle-Brined Oven-Fried Chicken

In a pickle over same-old chicken? Try leftover brine

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One of today’s trendiest ingredients is one of the world’s oldest — pickle brine, The brine, made from salt, water and seasonings, is what turns cucumbers into traditional kosher pickles and gives them their pucker.

Leftover brine is making its way into cocktails, sodas, ice pops and other foods.

A quart bottle of kosher pickles (with or without garlic and/or dill, sour or half sour, whole or halves) usually has about 2 cups of leftover brine, which should be kept refrigerated.

Use pickles cured without vinegar, only with salt, water and seasonings. This produces lactic acid and the fermentation that gives pickles their distinctive flavor. Several brands are available in the refrigerator cases of most supermarkets.

The brine flavors the two chicken recipes below, one oven roasted, the other oven fried. The brine boosts flavor and helps keep the chicken moist without adding a pronounced pickle taste.

I used chicken thighs. Cooking times vary if substituting breasts or other chicken parts.


Pickle-Brined Roasted Chicken

black plate with chicken and potatoes on it
Faith Kramer’s Pickle-Brined Roasted Chicken

Serves 4-6

2 1/2 to 3 lbs. chicken thighs (on bone and with skin)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. pickle brine (from refrigerated pickles made without vinegar)
1-2 Tbs. seasonings from pickle jar (optional)
2 Tbs. olive oil plus extra for greasing baking pan
1 cup thinly sliced onions
1 tsp. chopped garlic plus 1/4 cup peeled, whole garlic cloves
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
3 Tbs. chopped fresh dill

Place chicken in glass or stainless-steel container. Mix 1/2 cup brine and brine seasonings with chopped garlic. Marinate for 1-2 hours, turning chicken often.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Scatter sliced onions and whole garlic cloves across bottom. Remove chicken from marinade. Discard marinade. Place chicken on onions, skin side up. Mix 2 Tbs. brine with 2 Tbs. oil, black pepper and paprika. Drizzle evenly over top of thighs.

Bake, occasionally basting with pan juices, about 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through but still juicy. Timing will vary. Sprinkle with dill before serving with onions and garlic from pan.


Pickle-Brined Oven-Fried Chicken

Serves 4-6

2 1/2 to 3 lbs. chicken thighs (on bone and with skin)
1/2 cup pickle brine (from refrigerated pickles made without vinegar)
1-2 Tbs. seasonings from pickle jar (optional)
oil spray
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dried dill, optional
1 cup matzah meal

Place chicken in glass or stainless steel container. Marinate in brine and pickle seasonings for 1-2 hours, turning chicken often. Drain chicken and pat dry. Discard marinade.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Use oil spray to grease a rimmed baking sheet. Put beaten eggs in bowl large enough to place thighs in one at a time. Mix flour with paprika, pepper, salt and dill and place in a similar-sized bowl. Add matzah meal to a third such bowl.

Dip one piece of the chicken in the egg, turning it to coat. Let excess egg run back into dish, then roll chicken in the flour mixture, shaking excess back into bowl. Roll in matzah meal until coated, again shaking any excess back into bowl. Place skin side up on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Spray tops of chicken with oil spray. Place in oven. Bake 25 minutes. Remove and quickly spray again. Return to oven and bake another 20-25 minutes until cooked through but still juicy. Timing will vary. Use a spatula to remove thighs from baking sheet.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].