How-To's · Recipies

How to Brine a Chicken

For years I thought brining was some colossal pain in the tushie.  I don’t cook a lot of meat and I didn’t want to bother with anything that involved.  Being faced with a couple dozen tougher-than-they-should-be farm chickens forced me to face the brining demons in my mind.  Braising is awesome, but sometimes you just want to put a whole roasted chicken on the table, you know?  Brining my chickens – for even a few hours – takes them from being tough and ordinary to being something people say, “Wow, that is super moist!” about.  Try it next time you have a hankering for something new…

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken or turkey
  • 16 cups (or 1 gallon) warm tap water
  • 3/4 cup salt (any will do, I use kosher)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I use white granulated, but use brown or turbinado if you like)
  • 1/4 cup pickling spices*

Set aside the chicken for a minute.

Mix the water, salt, sugar, and spices together in a large bowl or stockpot.  I find the flavors of the spices come through more strongly if I BOIL the brine solution before adding the chicken, but you can just use hot tap water and stir them up if you are pressed for time.

IMG_8399

Once the salt and sugar are mostly dissolved, add your bird.  The liquid should cover the bird.  You may need to change to a smaller bowl or place a plate on top of your chicken to make this happen.  You can also add up to a few cups of water.  The keyword to remember in this part is SUBMERGED.

IMG_8403 IMG_8405

Place the bowl (with chicken) in the fridge and let it do it’s magic for between 4 and 10 hours. Rinse off all the little bits and prepare your chicken as you normally would for roasting (or frying).  Here’s the Baked Lemon Chicken recipe I use, if you’re looking for ideas.

The last time I did this was for a Christmas party and I had a question about how long I could brine before it had a damaging effect on the bird (was hoping to brine overnight, and bake around 1pm the next day).  Here’s what I found out.  Short brining is fine (3-4 hours), overnight brining is fine (8-10 hours).  Brining more than 10 hours is NOT a good idea.  What you can do if you are in a similar situation is brine the chicken, RINSE the chicken, put the chicken back in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.

* You can use a combination of peppercorns, bay leaf, mustard seed, and crushed red pepper flakes if you don’t have the pre-combined “pickling spices” at the ready.

IMG_8397

RELATED POSTS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s