- 6 skinless chicken thighs
- 2 each soaked in 8% brine for 8 hours, 6% brine for 10 hours, 4% brine for 12 hours
- all thighs were then breaded and deep fried for the same amount of time, and checked with a thermometer so that the final cooking temperature was 65C.
I had no idea what the ideal soaking time was for the different levels of salinity, so I went with two brine recipes I knew. Heston's brine recipe from In Search of Perfection suggests an 8% brine with an 8 hour soaking time, while Thomas Keller's brine recipe from Ad Hoc at Home suggests a 4% brine with a 12 hour soaking time. So I went with those, and chose an arbitrary brining time for the 6% brine exactly in between the two brines.
I chose skinless thighs because I did not want the skin to affect brine absorption. Also the uniform shape and size means cooking is more uniform (as opposed to a piece of breast, which is thin on one end and thick on the other).
I could have cooked the chicken some other way, but I did not want to poach the chicken since this would have affected the final salinity. I suppose that sous-vide or baking would have yielded a more accurate result, but I felt like eating fried chicken so that's what I did.
In hindsight, I should have weighed the pieces before and after brining but I forgot to do so.
I am aware that the volume of the brine affects the final salinity of the chicken, but I used the same volume for each batch. This means that my samples can be compared to each other, but my results might not be comparable to yours.
After brining, all 3 brines had taken on a cloudy appearance but the 4% brine was the least cloudy, suggesting that less chicken juice had leached out into the brine. Sorry, no pictures.
8% brine produced a more salty chicken, but was slightly over-seasoned. I think the brine recipe works for a whole chicken but not for individual pieces. I have made this recipe for a whole chicken before, and it definitely works. The meat had a more cured taste and was less juicy than the other brines. If you can imagine what a McDonalds chicken fillet is like - that was the texture.
6% brine was more juicy than the 8% and had the right amount of seasoning.
4% brine was the juiciest of all, and produced the the most mouthwateringly succulent chicken. However, it was definitely under-seasoned and required some help with added salt at the table.
Based on the result of this experiment I am wondering if I should repeat the experiment with even lower brine concentration. But before that - I was wondering if other eG'ers have conducted similar experiments and what your results are.
Edited by Keith_W, 31 August 2012 - 01:21 AM.