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Nov 15, 2008 01:48 PM

How do you brine chicken?

I have a lovely organic whole chicken that I plan on roasting. I would like to try brining for the first time. Any recommendations on the brining recipe and how tos for the best results?

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  1. I use TK's brine, its in the Bouchon book. It is more involved than most, Here it is:
    1 gal water, 1 c salt, 1/4 c honey, 12 bay leaves, 1/2 c garlic (smashed), 2 T pep corns,
    1/2 oz rosemary, 1/2 oz thyme, 2 oz it. parsley, zest and juice of 2 large lemons.
    combine, bring to boil, boil 1 minute stirring to dissolve salt, cool, bring to fridge temp before adding chx. It really need to be made a day before.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dancingpig

      I agree on using TK's method. Here's a pretty good write up:

      I used the brine for a turkey, and the result was pretty fantastic.

    2. I thought the only thing that actually gets "into" the meat is the salt part. Everything else including sugar is just superfluous. (According to America's Nazi Test Kitchen, in one of their science segments.) Also, if you're using table salt as opposed to Kosher, I'd go with a half cup of salt; with Kosher, use the whole cup. It can be done in as little as 2 hours or up to a day ahead. Rinse the bird really well and pat dry with paper towels. Then, do all your usual herbage, garlic, lemon, butter etc. You can even do a "dry brine" where you just rub the bird with lots o'salt, no liquid, but that should go for 1-2 days of fridge time before you roast. Rinse all the salt off this one too.....Adam

      1 Reply
      1. re: adamshoe

        From Cooks Illustrated Sept/Oct 2006: for brining a large chicken, 1-1/2 cups table salt, 1-1/2 cups sugar, 2 medium heads garlic, cloves peeled, crushed
        6 crumbled dried bay leaves
        1 gallon cold water

        Brine for 2 hours, pat dry but don't rinse. So no, the ATK/CI people don't do just salt-only brines.

        Another of their brine recipes is for quick-brining pan-roasted parts: 2-1/2 cups cold water mixed with either 1-1/2 cups kosher OR 3/4 cups table salt, brining for 30 minutes.

        Chai, you can use a 2-gallon size ziploc bag and press out the air so as to get all the meat in contact with the brine. This also allows you to use a minimal volume of liquid.
        Brining instructions tend not to mention that getting the salt/sugar dissolved can take a lot of stirring. I now put all of it into 2 cups of water and microwave until boiling, then stir till dissolved. I cool that in the fridge, THEN add the rest of the cold water, stir, and proceed with adding other seasonings and brining. I have also had success brining with a mix of water, salt, and soy sauce or teriyaki marinade. Never measured, just cut back on water and salt by half or so and added a lot of soy.

      2. The latest Cooks Country TV episode "All-American Picnic" has a recipe for fried chicken that is brined for 1 hour in salted buttermilk.

        According ot Cooks Country, using heavily salted buttermilk to brine the chicken, instead of salted water, keeps the chicken moist and well seasoned during cooking. The buttermilk is used to replace water for brining and create a richer flavor. Soaking for an hour in the salted buttermilk seasons the chicken pieces to the bone.

        Here is a paraphrased version of the brining portion of the fried chicken recipe:

        2 cups buttermilk
        2 Tablespoons of table salt
        1 (3-1/2 pound) cut up chicken

        Wisk the salt into buttermilk, in bowl, until salt is disolved. Add chicken pieces to buttermilk mixture and stir to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 1 hour. Don't brine any longer than 1 hour, or chicken will become too salty.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Antilope

          Brining with buttermilk works well when making fried chicken.

          Brining with water is better, much better, when roasting a chicken.

        2. If you search Food Network, Alton Brown has directions. I would link you there but its late and Im lazy. Not hard to find the directions and it really does keep the meat extra moist

          1. I brined a chicken the other day by rubbing it with kosher salt and then covered it with a damp papertowel for two hours. Then I rinsed it and patted it dry.
            The results were lovely - a perfectly moist chicken.
            When doing my Thanksgiving turkey, I will go the longer route and brine it in herbs overnight.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kim2310

              I have tried all the aromatic brines, and they are too much work, and take too much time in brining for not much effect.

              I use a method close to Kim's (no rinsing, just brushing off the excess salt) and I get perfect roast chickens, typically 1 hour at 450 F. The drippings make a fine sauce, and the skin is golden brown and crispy.
              I roast on a cast iron pan, useful for sauce making while the bird rests.

              This method (rubbing in coarse salt and leaving the bird in the fridge for 2-4 hours) causes the juices and fats to move to the skin for self basting. The interior meat is not affected, and remains juicy. Whereas lengthy brining actually dries out the interior meat. McGee discussed this last week in the N.Y.Times

              1. re: kim2310

                Hold on that brine for your turkey since most are 'pre-seasoned' to be juicy (aka brined) and so heavier and more expensive.