So this is for anyone who’s ever cooked the hell out of a piece of chicken. And let’s face it, we’ve all been there. We have busy lives and cooking sometimes is just ANOTHER thing on our never-ending to do list. That’s why I’ve come up with this Masterclass for what I think are important cooking techniques that can take your cooking to the next level with minimal effort.
And what better way to start off this series than talking about brining. Now I’m not going to lie…a good brine takes hours. But thankfully brining is sort of a “set it and forget it” type of deal…so you won’t be slaving over the stove top all day or anything outrageous like that.
Let’s jump in shall we?
What is Brining and How Does it Work?
I’m actually a science nut and I could tell you all about how the salt and water permeates the meat through the process of osmosis. Since I actually want you to read this…I’ll just say a brine consists of water, sugar, and salt. It can be used on just about anything, but since I love chicken that’s what I’ll be mostly chatting about.
There are two types of brining techniques: a wet brine and a dry brine, which we’ll get to next.
The Traditional Wet Brine (The Weekend Brine)
I like to refer to this as the weekend brine because nobody has time to do all this before work. How you perfect a good weekend brine is by dissolving salt and sugar in about 3 quarts of water. You can use more if you’re brining a larger bird like a turkey. This is also where you can toss in other yummy stuff like onions and carrots! If you’re not trying to impress anyone, I vote for chopping the meat into more manageable pieces, so you won’t have water flowing over the pot. Once it’s dissolved, let the water cool completely and add the chicken. Place it in the refrigerator for 12 hours to let it work its magic.
A+J Shortcut – Soak chicken in buttermilk for 4 to 5 hours for the same result. I know, I should have just told you how to brine the easy way, but what kind of girl would I be if I didn’t share both ways to do it.
Dry Brine (The Daily Brine)
This daily brine is awesome and ideal for those who love a flavorful piece of chicken without all the work. You still have to let this sit for a couple hours, but you basically pile on the seasonings and wait. Once it’s sat in the refrigerator for a few hours, take it out and rinse off the seasoning. Dry the chicken off and cook. Now, this way is not going to be as moist as letting it soak in water, but it will definitely save you some time and still give you a deliciously moist piece of chicken.
Think you’re ready? Here’s a recipe for a traditional brine. Leave a comment below if you’ve come across any good recipes!
Brine Basics (per 3 pounds of chicken)
6 cups of water
¼ cups of kosher salt
½ cups of sugar
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Images: Food Network and Bon Appetit