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May 15, 2009 03:01 PM

Is it worth brining 2 individual boneless skinless chicken breasts?

Hey all

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

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  1. 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.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hankstramm

      Just reviewed this old post and realized that I was mistaken in my proportion. I use 1/2 cup per 2 quarts. Sorry.

    2. Is it worth it? Not only YES -- HELL YES! I use a slightly milder brine than Hank (1/4 cup rather than 1/2 cup of Kosher salt) plus herbs and spices to taste.

      1. 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.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Zeldog

          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.

          1. re: Zeldog

            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.

            1. re: Zeldog

              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.

              1. re: Zeldog

                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.

              2. No, don't brine.

                If you do anything, soak in buttermilk for a couple of hours.

                5 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Excellent idea to me that works much better and doesn't really alter the flavor. Excellent way to tenderize

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      you don't need to be so polarizing about it. both are good methods for tender juicy meat but there are situations where one works better than the other. from my experience including my current job in one of the best italian restaurants in america, i think that brining is better for poultry (and my chefs agree). milk/buttermilk is good for tender pork and lamb but for a deeper flavor i would use a brining solution like user: alwayscooking suggested or come up with your own.

                      with boneless skinless breasts: brine in solution, rinse/pat dry, sear at a high temp and finish in a (hot) oven if necessary.

                      1. re: bobthebuilder89

                        I'm a professional chef. I cook individual chicken breast for 1800 ppl for a plated lunch let's say. Brining the chicken for an hour before grilling it makes a big difference in the end product by keeping it moist to the table after 3 hours in a hot box.

                        1. re: chftx

                          What is your typical brine and what percent pumped is the chicken you get from your purveyor.

                          Seems typical supermarket chicken (ex. Tyson) is about 12% pumped. Is this a candidate for additional water?

                    2. Brine

                      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)
                      1Q water
                      1/4c kosher salt
                      2T honey
                      bay leaf
                      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.