How do you brine chicken?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/12/din...
There are some significant differences between Harold McKee, and say, a cook or chef. For instance, McKee is a food writer, and a journalist. Not a chef or cook.
He has some well-researched writings on cooking, but they are lacking in actual experience.
Someone wrote about Alton Brown, who is a television personality.... who also went to cooking school.
Thanks everyone for the tips!! I found Alton’s video on the food network – it was helpful. In the end I went with a wet aromatic brine a blend of the TK recipe and the CI - CI recipe minus the cloves but added lemon. This was driven by what ingredients I had on hand.
Thanks for posting the NY Times article. It was interesting but I did the brining before your posts. I have to say I would do it the brining again. I thought it resulted in a plumper, juicier bird and I didn’t negatively affect the pan sauce (ie making it too salty). I will also try the dry brine technique to compare.
I have brined chicken and notice some difference ... I have also just heavily salted covered in the fridge and noticed almost the same difference.
1 cup salt, 1 cup sugar, about 1 gallon of liquid, I like to use OJ and water mixture or just water is fine. And I like to use some garlic, peppercorns and cloves, also some dried bay leaves. Brine 2-10 hours. But honestly for me ...the work is not worth it.