I was following a thread the other night where the discussion turned to whether or not sprinkling meat with salt before cooking it caused it to dry out. As I was reading it, I remembered this recipe from a couple years ago and decided to recreate it.
Start with 9 pounds of Kosher salt
Rince, dry and season a chicken. This was a 6 pound roaster, rubbed with garlic and lemon juice, sprinkled with ground pepper and chopped parsley. Make sure the skin is intact. Into the cavity went the rest of the lemon, 2 cloves of garlic cut in half, a sprig of rosemary, some fresh sage and thyme.Truss the bird with butchers string.
Pour the 9 pounds of salt into a large bowl and add 2 1/4 cups cold water. Mix well - you want consistency of wet heavy snow.
Layer a pan with about 3/4 inch of the wet salt and press down, then add the chicken on top.
Insert a temp probe, then pack the entire chicken in the rest of the wet salt, pressing it to hold together. About 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Cover the entire thing with the salt
Bake indirect at 500 degrees (a lot hotter than I usually do poultry, but it hardens the salt crust) until 165 degrees. Let it rest for 15 minutes and then comes the fun part. The crust will be very hard by now and needs to be cracked. Choose your blunt object of choice, typically a mallet or the back of a cleaver, but if you really want the wow factor in front of the family a 7 iron or baseball bat will work as well. Give it a good smack and the crust will break into large pieces. It may require a couple of smacks in various places. Then peel back the salt
Use a basting brush to remove any remaining salt and remove to a cutting board.
Carve and enjoy. Notice how juicy the chicken is.
Done right, there will be no saltiness to the meat, as a matter of fact, I was actually reaching for the salt shaker until my wife slapped my hand. It will be moist and juicy, with great flavor from the herbs. The skin even browns and crisps up a little bit in places.
If you can prepare it before family/guests arrive, it is very impressive to take this large, hard lump of salt, crack it, and pull out a delicious chicken.