Author of Lion Heart & Alessio: The Victory Ride Series

Goût de France: Brining Recipe

Brining Chicken

How many times have you roasted a chicken that came out dry? Too many times for me and I’ve finally found the answer to my madness—Brining! Brining is a method of bathing your bird in a salt solution to retain the juices in the meat. During the brining process, the salt dissolves proteins in muscle fibers and the meat absorbs the liquid, yielding a juicier bird. Who knew?!

So brining is key to a juicy flavorful bird every time, and the process is super easy. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be kicking yourself for not trying it sooner. It’s actually so good that you won’t even need gravy. I can’t say enough about brining and I promise you’ll never roast a chicken again without it.

Once you’ve conquered brining, follow my recipe for Roasted Dijon Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes and Gravy. You won’t be disappointed. Bon Appetit!

Chicken Brining Ingredients

1 (4 -5 lb.) Whole chicken
1 gallon warm water
½ cup sea salt
½ cup sugar
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 sprigs thyme

Chicken Brining Directions

Add the warm water to a large container or pot. Mix in the salt, sugar, soy sauce, EVOO, garlic, and thyme until salt and sugar have dissolved. Then place the chicken into the brine and cover. Refrigerate whole chicken for 24 hours.

If you’re using the brine for chicken breasts or boned pieces, less time is required for the marinade—they only need to be refrigerated about 4 hours.

Related Links:

Roasted Dijon Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes and Gravy
Our Villa in St. Remy de Provence

Read this story from the beginning here:

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Goût de France: Our French Villa in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Deanna and I ripped into one of the rotisserie chickens we’d bought at the Intermarche supermarket while we sat in the back seat of the rent-a- car. With our heads pressed against the windows fighting to stay awake, we fixed our gaze on the scenery of the narrow winding back roads of the French countryside.

French villa back road

Back road near our villa.

Deanna’s husband was nominated Travel Guide and had set Madame Bourgeois, our GPS, to find destination L’Harmas—our French villa accommodations in St. Rémy. The four of us had agreed to name her Madame Bourgeois because we thought it sounded very Bondesque and French—quite fitting for our James Bond adventure we were about to experience.

Arriving L’Harmas, our French Villa in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Spent from the long trip, having travelled thirty-one hours by plane, train, and automobile, we arrived at the iron gated entrance of L’Harmas around 4 pm—4 am Hawaii Time. We were so ready to get out of the car. After pressing the buzzer several times with no answer, we wondered if Madame Bourgeois had calculated correctly. The owner said she’d meet us there at 4 pm. To pass the time, I munched on more chicken and after about fifteen forever minutes waiting in the car, the gate finally opened so we could pass through. As we drove up the long pebbled driveway, we had our first glimpse of our French villa.

Front view of L’Harmas-French villa

Front view of L’Harmas. My bedroom’s French doors opened onto this courtyard with a view of the garden. I spent my mornings here sipping thick black coffee, reading my daily devotions, and journaling my trip. Truly a writers paradise. Inspiring and peaceful.

OK, so it’s not really a castle like I stated in my post How I Scored a Free Dinner and a Castle in France, but that’s how it was described to me at first and in my wistful mind, it’s still a castle. So humor me. L’Harmas is actually a gated villa, or French house with a garden, built in the 1960’s.

I was immediately struck by the beautiful grounds. They were impeccably groomed and lavished with evergreens, laurels, pine, and olive trees. The tall Italian Cypress were my favorite. They reminded me of regal columns or sentry statues guarding a fortress.

French villa garden

The villa appeared somewhat medieval with all the rustic stonework, arched windows, and multiple French doors lining the front of the house.

French villa courtyard

Rose-vine trellises, lavender bushes, and quaint sitting areas were dispersed throughout the courtyard that wrapped around the villa.

French villa garden

Deanna enjoying her morning coffee in the garden

French villa garden view

Another one of my reading spots with a view of the sunrise.

As we parked the car we saw the tennis courts on the left and the gated pool straight ahead.

French villa pool

A limestone mountain view from the pool topped it off. The pictures we’d seen on the internet were finally coming to life, and this was all ours for the next two weeks! Our 007 adventure was proving more and more promising. I could hardly wait to see what the inside of L’Harmas looked like. . .Stay tuned!

French villa view

Inspired Recipe Remakes

Chicken Brine

Roasted Dijon Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes and Gravy

French villa chicken

Before you try my Roasted Dijon Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes and Gravy , I recommend brining the chicken first. This is an easy step that will bring your chicken to the next level. But I must warn you—once you brine, you’ll never make chicken any other way!

Read this story from the beginning

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Goût de France: Fig Preserves

Fig Preserves

One of the great things about living in Hawaii is our abundance of fruit trees year round. And in my opinion, there’s nothing more satisfying than picking and eating fresh produce from my own yard. I especially love and appreciate the fig trees. Not only did fig leaves clothe Adam and Eve in their time of need, but figs are also one of the oldest and sweetest fruits known to man—and nutritious to boot!

Fig Preserves, Hawaiian Fig Tree

We have figs coming out our ears every Fall and if I’m quick enough I can snag a bunch before the chickens devour them. My husband grew up eating his grandmother’s fig preserves and challenged me to start making them as good as Granny’s from our own bounty.

Before meeting my southern born husband, I’d never even seen a fresh fig let alone eat one, and had no idea what I was missing. So for the past few years I’ve been canning, selling, and eating them.

Fig Preserves

I recommend serving my Fig Preserves over goat cheese with crackers or in my Goat Cheese, Fig, and Prosciutto Galette. I also like using them in spiced bread recipes, but my hubby’s fave is drizzling them over warm biscuits like Granny used to make.

So if you can get your hands on some fresh plump figs, my Fig Preserve recipe is a sure thing. Bon Appetit!

Fig Preserves Ingredients

4 cups fresh stemmed and washed figs, chopped
2 cups sugar
¾-1 cup water
1 pinch salt

Fig Preserves Instructions

Remove stems from figs and wash thoroughly in water. Dry off with a clean towel and then chop figs into quarters.

Fig Preserves Ingredients

Add all ingredients to a large saucepan and bring to a boil until it reaches a thick, jam-like consistency.

Fig Preserves

It should take about ½ hour to reduce down to half and become a rich brown color. Make sure to stir often to prevent burning.

Fig Preserves

Spoon into prewashed, hot sterilized jars and follow canning instructions or if you’re using new canning jars, there’s usually canning directions on the box. For more info on canning tips click here. My recipe makes five 8 oz. jars.

Related Links

Goût de France: Goat Cheese, Fig, and Prosciutto Galette

Read this story from the beginning

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

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