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Brining a whole chicken

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I had a good Sunday doing some low and slow BBQ with dear friends that have over the years been heavily involved in food. We were talking about their restaurant and some of the things they have been experimenting with. They gave me some chicken breast that had been brined.. I immediately picked up on thyme and rosemary.. and it was present through the entire breast.. not just a flavor you pick up from application of spices to the outside.

 

So my question for those of you that have done it, how much volume would you recommend for brining an average sized whole chicken? How about duration? Also, as I understand it my friend used a lot of herbs to get that to permeate in the brining process. My thought is.. by masticating herbs (think pesto) you release the oils that are the essence of the herb. I was thinking that would give me a boost without having to just up the quantity. Any thoughts or experience on that?

 

ES!

post #2 of 6

There are no exact amounts.  A practical method of figuring is enough room in the brining vessel so as not to crowd the bird, and enough brine to cover the bird completely.  The amount of brine necessary to cover will depend on the dimensions of the vessel. 

 

Some people like to brine in plastic bags, and because they fit so close, they use comparatively less liquid.  In that case, the brining process might take a little bit longer.  But as a rough rule of thumb, the saline concentration and acidity of the brine are more important than its volume.  If you want specific answers about timing, you'll either need to be specific about the brining solution you want to use, or ask for a particular recipe. 

 

As a rule, a whole chicken, in a very simple brine which contains 1/2 cup of table salt, 4 lemons, 2 onions, and a gallon of water, will take 4 hours to brine, and can go up to 24 without over-brining.  

 

Brining solutions are a good way to introduce herbaceous and aromatic flavors.  I frequently use fruit and fruit juices -- especially citrus. 

 

Regarding your "pesto" idea:  You can use basil, other herbs and garlic, but you can't use a fully realized pesto.  Oil interferes with the process and should be avoided.

   

Last, macerating, NOT masticating.

 

BDL

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

HAHA! Thanks BDL.. I actually meant mastication ala mortar and pestle.. I wasn't going to chew it and spit it into the brine solution biggrin.gif

 

I was chatting with my friend and I guess you boil the brine with the aromatics so that's what infuses the brine with the herbs. Something new for me!
 

post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by eastshores View Post

I guess you boil the brine with the aromatics so that's what infuses the brine with the herbs. 

I wouldn't boil the brine with the aromatics. I would boil the brine with the seasonings, turn off the heat, wait 15 seconds and add the aromatics, letting them infuse. 

post #5 of 6

I start a concentrated brine in a small pan - bring that to the boil then add aromatics and after they steep I add water.  The only hassle I find with brinning is getting excess moisture out of the skin then getting that skin dry for crispiness. 

post #6 of 6

To counter the brines tendency to make the skin flabby try this.

 

Pat the chicken dry - then rub with a mixture of rice flour and baking powder.   (1/4 tbsp each per pound)

Then let dry overnight in cooler. (8-18 hours)

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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