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Brining 101 - A Tutorial

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If you are interested in the Cook's Illustrated pdf file about brining meat, the URL is given here below.

http://cooksillustrated.com/images/do...

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  1. i was JUST about to post if my chicken (about 3 lbs total, cut into parts) that is in brine since last night at 8, is going to be , well, ruined. I forgot to take it out this morning before work. and , seeing this Cooks Illus article (which I had at one point in my recipe collection) I think I might be doomed.

    Thoughts?

    9 Replies
    1. re: rumdrinks

      I have brined overnight once recently and it did become quite salty but not ruined in my opinion. Just be careful to rinse thoroughly and not add anything else salty when cooking. Maybe cook with some lemon to offset to the salt with acid and you should be ok.

      1. re: rumdrinks
        e
        El Gringo Loco

        Try soaking the chicken in plain water for a couple of hours before cooking it. Just a suggestion...I don't know if it works.

        1. re: rumdrinks

          Was your brining solution the same concentration as in the article? If it was less, you'll probably be ok in terms of it not be overly salty but flavor and texture will be compromised. Just rinse thoroughly; I would NOT do an additional soak in plain water. If you're afraid it's too salty, then add less salt to dredging mixture. I wonder if pieces could benefit from being removed from water and placed on a rack (loosely covered) in fridge overnight to evaporate some of the water...

          I've been experimenting w/ fried chicken lately and have found that a long-term brine (8+ hrs.) results in a very unpleasant texture...the meat is soft, disintegrates in your mouth in a bad way. Flavor is literally more "watery" to my taste (I used the same producer and supplier of chicken).

          Wet brining is just not necessary for good poultry since I'm convinced it only ruins the natural flavor and texture. It's possible that a short brine (2-3 hrs.) doesn't break down the texture, but again, I don't see how it's superior to a dry brine w/ a short-term soak in buttermilk.

          What I think works best is pre-seasoning pieces w/ S&P night before (3/4 tsp. of DC kosher salt per pound) and then soaking in buttermilk for 2-3 hrs. before dredging. Set in fridge on rack to set coating for 1-2 hrs. and then fry. Please let us know how your chicken faired...good luck.

          1. re: Carb Lover

            I was just gonna grill the chix, not fry it (altho have been reading your experiments and I am mightily intrigued and encouraged).

            Soooooo - pinching ideas from you guys, unless i hear anything else really exciting, me thinks I am gonna get home, pat dry and leave in fridge on rack to dry for at least 1.5 hrs. Will come home to throw it all on the grill, maybe with just some herbs and such rubbed on - clearly, no salt, and maybe finish with a sauce (mango curry grille sauce is currently the flavor coming to mind...Stonewall Kitchens brand). Mind you, the brine was weak-ish, using about 4 quarts of water with about 3/4 salt and about 1/2 cup sugar (i tend to get all willy nilly in the kitchen and throw stuff around, especially if I don't have the recipe for the brine nearby, which i didn't last night).

            i shall report back.

            1. re: rumdrinks

              Oops, sorry, I seem to have wet brining inextricably connected to fried chicken right now. Your plan sounds good and sounds like your chicken will turn out fine enough. Grilling will give it a nice smoky flavor.

              Your situation did make me realize yet another benefit of dry brining...no worries of forgetting to take out of water solution!

              1. re: Carb Lover

                dry bringing is strickly salt and pepper over night - no liquid? wrapped tightly in plastic or anything?

                1. re: rumdrinks

                  Yup, the basics are salt, sometimes pepper and other herbs or spices if you choose. I generally use 3/4 tsp. Diamond Crystal kosher salt per pound of meat. I pre-season overnight (sometimes longer) for meat that is large, on the tough side, or not inherently flavorful. Cover loosely w/ plastic wrap, leaving a little opening for air to circulate. Don't rinse meat before cooking, just dab w/ paper towel to absorb water condensation on surface before cooking.

              2. re: rumdrinks

                Don't worry.
                It will be just fine.

                I left breasts in a weak brine for something like, 2 days (I think) rinsed them, grilled them, sauced them...no problem.

                Enjoy!

                1. re: rumdrinks

                  Don't worry.
                  It will be just fine.

                  I left breasts in a weak brine for something like, 2 days (I think) rinsed them, grilled them, sauced them...no problem.

                  Enjoy!

            2. I recently had success adding vanilla extract and liquid smoke to the brine for pork chops.

              2 Replies
              1. re: MV
                e
                El Gringo Loco

                I LIKE IT! I have some liquid smoke in the house. Will have to try that next time. Thanks!