Take the time to brine

Basic BrineBasic Brine
      Story goes that my grandmother had a little jet stream diner in NYC back in the day.  When asked what her secret to making her chicken so juicy and tender, she would tell you to soak it in salt water before cooking.  Since then, I’ve been experimenting with this technique and have subsequently become a big fan of brining all poultry before roasting, broiling, frying, stewing, etc. I always have a ziplock bag of chicken soaking brine either in the fridge for the weeknight dinners ahead or one frozen in the freezer to defrost and throw in some chicken.
         I’ve also created different variations of brine each depending on what flavor profile I want to bring out.  I have the chili brine for Peri Peri Roast chicken or for a spicy stir fry.  I have a thyme and rosemary brine perfect for a Sunday Roast chicken or crispy chicken cutlets. Even a hickory brine for making bbq chicken legs roasted in the oven.  This recipe, however, is the basic brine and is suitable for most poultry dishes. I guarantee you that this is an good way to add flavor without adding a lot of fat as well as an excellent way to prevent the chicken from drying out during cooking. Squeaky and dry poultry NO MORE!


Ingredients:
100g (about 1/2 cup) salt
100g (about 1/2 cup) sugar
1 tbsp peppercorn
1 lemon thinly sliced (this allows you to add both the juice of the lemon and the zest of the lemon peel)
1 head of garlic (garlic cloves crushed)
3-4 bay leaves
2.5 L (8 1/2 cups) water
Method:
         Thinly slice 1 lemon and add them to a medium to large sized pot, making sure to squeeze out all of the juice from the lemon slices in the pot.  Add salt, sugar, crushed garlic cloves, bay leaves and 1 L of water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil for 10 minutes, making sure sure the brine mixture does not boil over onto the stovetop.  After 10 min, remove from heat and let cool. Once room temperature, add the remaining 1.5 liters of water.  The mixture should taste like a salty soup.  If you find it to be too salty, add a mug or two of water but not much more as you don’t want to dilute the brine too much.
         In a ziplock bag or tupperware container,  cover the poultry in brine and let soak overnight or up to 2-3 days in the refrigerator. When ready to cook, remove poultry from brine, pat dry and remove any herbs that might remain on the meat. Discard brine once used, do not reuse.  Leftover brine can be kept in the freezer, defrosted and used for later use.


Red Chili Brine
Red Chili Brine
Ingredients:
100g (about 1/2 cup) salt
100g (about 1/2 cup) sugar
1 tbsp peppercorn
1 lemon thinly sliced (this allows you to add both the juice of the lemon and the zest of the lemon peel)
1 head of garlic (garlic cloves crushed)
3-4 bay leaves
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp thyme
2.5 L (8 1/2 cups) water
Method:
         Thinly slice 1 lemon and add them to a medium to large sized pot, making sure to squeeze out all of the juice from the lemon slices in the pot.  Add salt, sugar, crushed garlic cloves, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, thyme and 1 L of water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil for 10 minutes, making sure sure the brine mixture does not boil over onto the stovetop.  After 10 min, remove from heat and let cool. Once room temperature, add the remaining 1.5 liters of water.  The mixture should taste like a salty soup.  If you find it to be too salty, add a mug or two of water but not much more as you don’t want to dilute the brine too much.
         In a ziplock bag or tupperware container,  cover the poultry in brine and let soak overnight or up to 2-3 days in the refrigerator. When ready to cook, remove poultry from brine, pat dry and remove any herbs that might remain on the meat. Discard brine once used, do not reuse.  Leftover brine can be kept in the freezer, defrosted and used for later use.


Yum

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