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Nov 1, 2007 05:30 PM

Types of brine for roasting chicken

i've been mustering up the courage to roast a chicken for awhile now and have gotten some great tips from the roasted chicken post a little while ago, but the brining issue has me a little lost. the tip about adding fruit juices and herbs sounds great, but what do you use in terms of liquids and what amounts? what do you recommend adding to it? i know the most basic way to brine is just salted water, but then do you still season the bird before you put it in the oven with salt and pepper? any tips would be helpful. thanks!

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  1. We brine our turkeys and chickens all the time. When I prepare the bird, I do everything the same, but skip the salt. Some people put sugar in the brining liquid, but I don't, nor do I add fruit juice. Just the basic salt water.

    1. If you use a kosher "empire" there really is no need to brine and the chicken and it will be delicious.


        this is wolfgang puck's recipe for a brined turkey. would be good for chicken. he then cooks it with onion, apple, and lemon in the cavity, and also does an herbed compound butter under the skin. his glaze had honey and molasses. dang, that bird loooked good!

        btw, interesting, he said you can reuse the brine for another turkey.

        3 Replies
        1. re: alkapal


          Have you tried this recipe, looks great for a brine to get some interesting fall flavors into the bird.

          1. re: jfood

            jfood, i'm ashamed to say i just saw this post, as i travel back through (way) old posts. i will try it this year. i think wolfie is great!

          2. re: alkapal

            I actually tried this recipe last year at Thanksgiving. It was DELICIOUS!!!! Everyone could not stop raving about how juicy and tender the turkey was.

            It would definitely be worth your while to give this brine a try.

            I'm going to make this brine every year from here on out, it was so good. The compound butter is simple to make and easy to insert under the skin and adds to the flavor of the turkey. I ommit the lemon in the cavity though. Apples and onions in the cavity and I put a layer of onions, carrots and celery under the bird. No need for basting either!!! SO EASY!

          3. Basic "recipe" is 2 cups of kosher salt and 1/2 cup sugar for a gallon of cold water. The sugar enhances the savory flavor. Since the brine is drawn into the meat cells, many people add flavoring agents like herbs, spice, juice, soy sauce, molasses, etc to their brines.

            There is also a technique called dry brining, where you rub salt into the chicken and let it sit overnight. There is a lot of discussion of Judy Rodgers' ZUNI CAFE ROAST CHICKEN which utilizes the dry brine method. It's a FANTASTIC recipe and would be a great one for you to consider for your first roast chicken. It is accompanied by a fantastic bread salad.

            Here's the recipe:

            1. I don't care for brined poultry and think it is just trying to compensate for something. .

              I find that if you get a quality bird you really don't need to do much more than put it in a pan and roast it. I like the method where you start it breast side down and then flip it towards the end to get some browning. I do turkey the same way and everyone who has ever tasted it likes the taste. At the most I might put a couple slices of lemon or onion in the cavity.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Hank1

                Well, you're certainly entitled to your opinion but that seems awfully narrow and limiting to me. Brining is just another way of preparing a bird that gives it a different taste and therefore a different dinner experience. Sure, a roasted quality bird is nice just how it is. Good, filling, tasty etc. But there's nothing wrong with trying new things once in a while to change what you're eating. Like, say, one time using italian herbs, and another time using Brazilian herbs. Brining is no different than changing the herb combination you're doing. It's a way of adding subtle flavours to the bird that change it from the same thing you've been eating every day.

                It doesn't have anything to do with trying to compensate for something. I'm gonna stop here before I start making snarky comments about people trying to convince others -not- to experiment in cooking and learn new methods.

                1. re: Morganna

                  Thats why I wrote that I don't care for brining and gave the reason why. They can certainly try it and find out for themselves.

                  I am probably the most open minded person I know regarding food. I have traveled extensively in Asia and will try anything. I like, prepare and eat a really wide range of foods and flavors.

                  I think properly roasted quality meat tastes great pretty much on its own.

                  I agree on the herbs.

                  I wrote about compensating for something because you always hear people say "I brined this to make it juicy". I think a good quality bird doesn't need that. I roasted a good quality chicken last night without brining and it came out tasty and juicy.

                  I have noticed the same thing with pork. I get great pork from a local Italian market and you get wonderful results when it is roasted with minimal tinkering compared to the meat you find in the big box store.

                  I am not alone with this. I have a number of friends who cook and experimented with brining and we all came to the same conclusion that it wasn't for us.

                  1. re: Hank1

                    Wish I could afford to buy all my meats from local markets. :) I'm not arguing that properly roasted quality meats don't taste great on their own. I'm suggesting that sometimes folks might like to try something different. That in no way detracts from properly roasted quality meats.

                    And to take it just a little bit beyond that, I'm also saying that there is nothing wrong with experimenting with brining, and that you are satisfied with your properly roasted quality meats, and you have a plethora of friends who agree with you in your minimalist style of roasting meats doesn't mean that everyone in the world would agree with your assessment of the flavour, and that they wouldn't actually prefer brined to not brined meats when given the opportunity. And that's just fine. It's fine you prefer properly roasted quality meats, and it's fine that there might be some people here who prefer brined meats.

                    It just seems to me that this person is interested in experimenting, and started this thread to learn some bits and bobs about experimenting with brines, and coming in here to say "don't brine because me and my friends prefer properly roasted quality meats" is the same thing as discouraging someone from experimenting in cooking and that seems anathema to the point of this board.

                    *shrug* In any case, I hadn't intended to respond but I felt I needed a redirect because you seemed to think I was saying your experience was somehow a mistake or something. I'm not. I agree with your point about properly roasted quality meats. I was just making a different point, was all. Anyways, if you feel a need to respond, that's totally fine, of course. I'll drop it with this, though, because I'd prefer to avoid bad feelings that could possibly develop.

                    Wishing you all the best in cooking! :)

                    1. re: Morganna

                      . I wasn't trying to insist that the person do anything and was just offering my experience. There are no bad feelings. This is simply a discussion and when you can't see someone you have to interpret what they are writing.

                      I am not trying to be some sort of elitist when I say I patronize local markets. Big box spends a fortune buying mindshare and many people believe big box is the only game in town.

                      The particular market I like is now run by the second generation of an Italian family. They have a fantastic selection of quality meat cut in house (none of it is the embalmed stuff featured at Walmart and other big box stores) at good prices. For example tonights dinner is country ribs and sauerkraut. The ribs were $1.49/lb. They make at least 5 kinds of sausage in house and all are excellent quality. Tomorrows dinner will include andouille sausage which cost $2.29/lb.

                      I was at a friends last night and the bring/injecting came up. You may remember at least 5 or more years ago that every cooking show featured brining a turkey and every other TV ad featured some sort of "flavor injector" kit. Thats when my friends and I tried that stuff to see what it was about and we concluded that we were going through the process only to get a result that would be served in a big box restaurant. My one buddy did it again the next year and now it is pretty much forgotten.

                      1. re: Hank1

                        What you say is very true about quality meat -- however if you have ever had to pepare wild meat or very lean birds, roasting pretty much makes it inedible or very dry because has such little fat. Brining brings moisture into the meat that cannot be achieved otherwise.

                        1. re: sweeterpea

                          Brining's great! I have found it a great way to infuse the flavor of herbs and onions and celery, etc, into the fowl. I first tried this when it was recommended for an organic turkey I bought locally (in mid-Hudson, NYS) and when 10 people at Thanksgiving took their first bite, there was dead silence around the whole table! It was the best turkey any of us had ever put into our mouths. Some of us are old, too, and have a lot of turkey eating experience! So now I often brine small (my favorites) whole chickens for roasting or roasters...if I have the time and remember to do it. I talked to a chef at a local inn, and he told me they always brine fowl for 2 days! No wonder it had that great flavor. I like plain roasted chicken, too, and love broiled chicken, but a brined chicken is a treat. You can use whatever herbs you like in it with the salt, and I do add a half cup of sugar per gallon. I put in thinly sliced carrot, onion, garlic and celery, chopped parsley if I have any on hand, a tablespoon or so of broken up rosemary, some thyme, maybe some onion or garlic pepper flakes...whatever. I think you'll be absolutely delighted with the results! Carpe diem!