Greek Swordfish & Allspice Chicken

I skipped October’s Daring Cook’s Challenge, but I am back for November and the theme is brining.  Brining meat is a process of the meat being marinated in salt water, prior to cooking.  This produces tender meat, especially when using dry cooking methods afterwards like roasting or grilling.

I was only planning on doing chicken, but then homebound for several days because of lack of public transportation because of Hurricane Sandy had me using up a lot of stuff that had been in my freezer for a while.  One of those things is swordfish.  Swordfish is a very lean, firm fish that can dry out very easily, so I thought brining would be an ideal method to cook this fish.

 Audax of Audax Artifax was our November 2012 Daring Cooks’ host. Audax has brought us into the world of brining and roasting, where we brined meat and vegetables and roasted them afterwards for a delicious meal!

Although most popular when using large pieces of meat like whole chickens, pork shoulder, etc., I used chicken pieces since I had a couple of packages of frozen chicken thighs in my freezer.
I always keep bags of vegetable scraps in my freezer for when I make stock, so I added this bag of carrot peels, parsley stems, cilantro stems, broccoli stems, etc. to flavor the brining liquid and ultimately, the chicken pieces.

You can flavor it with whatever products you may have in your refrigerator – fresh ginger root, chiles and any herbs you may have are all great additions.

I did this last month when I was homebound because of Hurricane Sandy.  I had only planned on brining the chicken for about 4 hours, but then I lost power for a few hours (the after effects of Sandy) and could not use the oven. It ended up being brined for 6 hours, but brining for that many hours is not necessary, although it did not hurt it either.

Brined & Roasted Allspice Chicken

(click here for printable recipe)
Ingredients:
5 boneless & skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons allspice berries
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 quart size Ziploc bag of vegetable scraps
4 cups water
1/4 cup sea salt (I used sea salt because that is what was in my pantry, but Kosher salt can be substituted)
2 tablespoons sugar
8 curry leaves
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

In a saucepan, heat 2 cups of the water with the salt and sugar and boil until the salt and sugar have dissolved.  In a large container, add this and the rest of the water, along with the allspice, peppercorns, curry leaves, garlic and vegetable scraps.
Add chicken pieces and make sure they are completely covered by the brine.
Leave to  marinate for 4-6 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Remove chicken pieces from brine and pat dry.
Spray an oven save dish with non stick spray and place chicken pieces in the dish.  Remove some of the allspice and peppercorns from the brine and place on in between the chicken pieces.
Roast for 30 minutes.
Transfer to broiler set on high and broil for 8-10 minutes on each side, until desired color is achieved.

Using long and dry cooking methods would usually result in dry meat.  However, due to the brining, the meat was tender and moist, falling apart with one pierce of the fork.

This will be complemented well with my Soy Glazed Brussel Sprouts or Chickpea Spinach Salad.

…now on to the swordfish.  Swordfish is very common in Greek cuisine, therefore, I used Greek herbs and spices to flavor the brine.

Brined & Broiled Greek Swordfish

(click here for printable recipe)
Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds swordfish
1 quart size Ziploc bag of vegetable scraps
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4 cups water
1/4 cup sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar

In a saucepan, heat 2 cups of the water with the salt and sugar and boil until the salt and sugar have dissolved.  In a large container, add this and the rest of the water, along with the oregano, parsley, peppercorns, garlic and vegetable scraps.
Add swordfish and make sure they are completely covered by the brine.
Leave to  marinate for 2 hours.
Preheat broiler to high.
Remove swordfish from brine and pat dry.
Spray a broiler pan with non stick spray and place swordfish on top.  Broil for 8 minutes.

For a complete Greek meal, serve with roasted potatoes tossed with olive oil, aleppo pepper and rosemary & sauteed spinach with garlic and oregano.

Finish off the meal with a shot of Greek Ouzo (anise flavored liquer)

Note: Swordfish is one that is known to have high Mercury levels so pregnant women and young children should not eat it.

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Chef Mireille 
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