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Is it ok to brine chicken parts?

moymoy Sep 25, 2007 12:09 PM

I want to try Thomas Keller's lemon-brined fried chicken recipe that calls for brining a whole chicken. A whole chicken would be too much for me, will brining chicken peices change the integrity of the recipe and overall taste?

P.S. I've never brined anything before, any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Much thanks!

  1. m
    mleese Sep 25, 2007 12:37 PM

    Make sure to reduce either the time that you brine the chicken parts relative to a whole chicken or reduce the ratio of brine ingredients to water. Otherwise you run the risk of overly salty chicken pieces.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mleese
      C. Hamster Sep 25, 2007 12:48 PM

      Yes you do. But I would recommend cutting down the time not the salt. There is some evidence to support the fact that lower salt brining doesn;t really work.

      "Will a flavor brine still work if you cut the amount of salt in half? Not according to the November/December 2002 issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine.

      Cook's brined shrimp, pork chops, and whole chicken in a full-strength solution and a half-strength solution for 1 hour per pound. After cooking and tasting, they found that the meats brined at half-strength were a lot less salty than those brined at full-strength, but the improvement in moisture content was marginal, at best. In fact, for shrimp and chicken, Cook's felt that there was no point in flavor brining at half-strength at all."

    2. f
      Fuser Sep 25, 2007 12:25 PM

      Make sure the package doesn't say the chicken parts are "enhanced," which most are these days. "Enhanced" means that they have already been injected with a saline solution and, thus, are pre-brined. Look for the word "enhanced" in small letters. All chicken that has been treated with saline will have to have an ingredient list on it. Your best bet to avoid this is natural or Kosher chicken parts.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Fuser
        C. Hamster Sep 25, 2007 12:29 PM

        Kosher chicken is already "brined" during processing, so don't use one of those.

        Oftentimes a package of injected chicken doesn't use the word "enhanced." Just make sure you don't use one that has any saline added.

        1. re: C. Hamster
          Fuser Sep 25, 2007 12:30 PM

          I didn't know that about Kosher chicken. Thanks.

          1. re: Fuser
            C. Hamster Sep 25, 2007 12:32 PM


            Here's the Empire kosher site: http://www.empirekosher.com/zip.php?c...

            1. re: Fuser
              ccbweb Sep 25, 2007 02:09 PM

              Yep...using Kosher chicken is my shortcut because then I don't need to brine it.

        2. C. Hamster Sep 25, 2007 12:21 PM

          It will work great. Just brine it for a shorter amount of time.

          1. Glencora Sep 25, 2007 12:20 PM

            Certainly it's fine to brine chicken parts.

            General question: I bought a little baggy of juniper berries for a brining recipe. (Alice Waters', I think.) I can't honestly say that I notice they add anything. Does anyone else use them?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Glencora
              debit Sep 25, 2007 12:25 PM

              I break them up in my mortar and pestle before adding them. Nice aromatic, but you are right, they do not add much taste-wise.

              1. re: Glencora
                chazzerking Sep 25, 2007 01:50 PM

                I use them in braising, especially venison and lamb. some that Ive had were old and didn't have much flavor. but if you can find fresher ones or if you live someplace where you can find junipers that are mature enough to produce berries you can pick you own and use a whole lot less and get a real gin-y flavor. It does wonders with game meats

              2. debit Sep 25, 2007 12:14 PM

                I brine chicken parts all the time. Works out just fine. Go for it!

                Good luck and report back!

                3 Replies
                1. re: debit
                  mschow Sep 25, 2007 01:21 PM

                  hijacking onto this...do you wash the chicken parts after brining them? Then, do you add your seasonings before baking, including salt? Or is the chicken already salty enough from the brine? Thanks

                  1. re: mschow
                    C. Hamster Sep 25, 2007 01:31 PM

                    Some people insist you rinse them and some people insist you shouldn't. I've tried it both ways and don't notice any difference.

                    Ordinarily, though, it's super important to air dry the chicken for 2 hours or so if you are roasting it. That's key for crispy skin. If you roast it right after soaking, it's hard to get the skin crisp.

                    Moymoy is frying the chicken though, so presumably will be coating it. Dry skin would be less important in that case.

                    Don't salt the chicken before roasting or baking it, but other seasonings can be used.

                    You can season the brine, too (as in this case, with lemon). The brine is drawn into the meat cells -- if the brine is seasoned, the flavoring agents will be drawn in too.

                    1. re: mschow
                      debit Sep 25, 2007 01:33 PM

                      I give them a quick rinse, pat them dry, and season with some herbs and pepper. I don't salt. Then I pan roast and make a nice pan sauce with white wine and shallots. You will need some salt for the pan sauce, though.

                      Man, I am really making myself hungry for this.

                      BTW...I started doing this after reading Cook's Illustrated. If you subscribe to their site, they've got lots of info on brining just about anything.

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