This post isn’t about a specific recipe, per se. It is about a technique for making your chicken turn out awesome. Every time. And it’s simple to do: brine your chicken.
Got your attention?
Basically, you make a brine out of water, salt, and sugar (salt water is called a brine, but the sugar brings it home). Then you put the chicken in the brine. but all that into the fridge, and wait. Take it out, drain the brine, cook the chicken.
It’s that easy. It doesn’t matter if it’s thighs, breasts, backs, or wings. And it doesn’t matter if you are pan searing, grilling, baking, microwaving, smoking, of just taking a blow torch to it. The chicken will turn out better. Pork chops will, too (although they take longer in the brine), but this post is about chicken.
The issue I have with cooking chicken (and pork, too, sometimes) is that you have about five seconds of perfectly cooked chicken. Not undercooked where you will kill someone, and not overcooked where it turns into dry tasteless junk. If you don’t take it off at just the right time, you end up with bad food. When you brine the chicken, it adds salt and flavor to the chicken, but it also adds water. You end up with chicken that now has about a minute, sometimes more, of perfectly cooked, not over dry, amazing food. A little bit of planning, and everyone will know what a great cook you are.
OK, the rules.
1 gallon water.
1 cup salt.
1/2 cup sugar.
Mix that all together until the salt and sugar is dissolved. Put in the chicken. Put it in the fridge. If it is a normal chicken breast, give it 45 minutes. If it is one of those monster chicken breasts from Costco, give it an hour and a half. You know the ones, four inches wide, six inches long. They are wonderful, but size makes a difference about how long it is in the brine. (and yes, the pork chops will be longer, an hour for a normal 1/2 inch thick chop, and up to four hours for that monster one inch thick chop at Costco).
Oh, and if you want to just leave it over night, just half the salt and sugar, and you should be fine.
And if you don’t need that much brine, just keep the ratios. Half gallon water, half cup salt, quarter cup sugar. It’s that simple.
Now go! Brine some chicken.