Is it worth brining 2 individual boneless skinless chicken breasts?
Just picked up 2 nice free-range boneless skinless chicken breasts, and am pretty good at keeping them juicy (just dont overcook them) but there has been alot of discussion about brining lately.
Is brining only effective on the entire bird? Or is it worth brining the 2 breasts? It will be cooked on the grill
Thanks for any fast advice, this is for dinner tonight
edit: oh! and a simple brine for this small portion would be great too if someone has one
I'm never used a thermometer for chicken and never had dried chicken, sorry. It is one of the easiest things to cook. I will disagree, no offense. I do like a simple marinade over night, all day of even just 30 minutes but otherwise, usually not much else. Some times a basting sauce but not needed. I have had dried cooking when I'm not cooking. My ex was very good at cooking but some just like to fry them rather than cook them, lol.
No brine here for the most part.
Brining is not the same as injecting saline, not even close. Brining reduces the amount of water that cooking pushes out and evaporates. It also changes the structure of the meat slightly and thus in many cases makes meat less mushy.
In brining, oppositely charged sodium and chloride ions in salt interact with the proteins in meat. These meat molecules then need to fit together with the salt ions. That reduces toughness by changing the texture and allows the cells to absorb more water, as well as creating small holes that trap water. The meat will not give up as much water so it will be juicy even if you cook it longer.
When you inject meat, you are doing more of a cure. The goal of curing is preservation of meat and you inject it to get the cure into the center before it degrades.
Chicken breasts are probably the best meat to brine. A whole chicken has dark meat, which has a different structure that retains more juice and brining is best for meats that don't have skin, if only because brining makes a crisp skin difficult (at best) to achieve. A skinless chicken breast brined for an hour or so can be cooked with much less care, at higher heat with less watching, and will be firmer and juicier.
It adds a layer of flavor as well as ensuring moistness (overcooking a boneless skinless breast is remarkably easy).
My favorite brine - (all measurements are approximate - vary the proportions as needed)
1/4c kosher salt
1 crushed garlic clove
whole black peppercorns
couple branches thyme (or dried)
couple branches parsley
bit of lemon zest
squirt lemon juice
(play with other herbs and spices too!)
For boneless skinless breasts, I'd brine for 30-40 minutes. Rinse, pat dry and then cook.
I think brining is over-rated and I no longer do it, except for making corned beef and the like. Maybe it does add some water to the meat, but it mainly just adds salt. The best way to produce a moist roasted or grilled chicken breast is to not overcook it.
That said, if you want to add flavors a la hankstramm's recipe, that's perfectly fine.
I agree with Zeldog. It seems like a solution looking for a problem. Part of the reason I like to buy unprocessed poultry is that it isn't injected with saline, which is just industrial brining. Brining a turkey seems to make the meat watery to me rather than juicy.
If you're not overcooking and the meat is juicy, I don't see any reason to brine chicken.
I agree. I have brined birds for longer smoking but don't feel it's needed if you cook the meat to the proper temp. For a couple of BSCB I find brining unnecessary. I find BSCB on the grill or in a cast iron pan can come out very juicy if you monitor your temperatures and don't over cook. Anything over 165 is overdone.
Third with Zeldog. I've come the conclusion that brining chicken results in rubbery, watery, salty chicken. Even with a short brine time. I prefer marinating in lemon juice (for two chicken breast halves I'd use the juice of one lemon), a splash of olive oil and S&P. Marinate for an hour or so, then grill. Much better than a brine.
I have to agree with Zeldog. I have done it for a full chicken at it was good. I've tried it for pork chops too. It isn't bad I just don't think it is all that worth it. My chicken breasts are always juicy, tender, and I like to baste my on the grill with a herbed butter or citrus butter.
I have one recipe where I marinade them in cumin, chili powder, garlic and lime juice. Then when I cook them I use a little butter mixed with the same ingredients, Baste just a couple of times. Then are tender juicy, a great flavor and no need to brine for me. Why would I want to brine it.
Works especially well with breasts. My basic formula is 1 liter/quart water + 1/2 cup Diamond kosher salt + 1/2 cup sugar. If you use Morton kosher, decrease salt by 1-2 tblsp. Also, you can throw some fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, bay leaf) garlic and/or onion powder in with the brine--a 1/2 of a sliced lemon is also nice. I boil half the water, and chill the rest, when the salt and sugar dissolves, I mix in the cold water and chill it 45min or so, then submerge the chix..
For breast, and this concentrated brine, they'll be good to go in 1 hour. 2-3 hours is as long as I'd leave them in there.