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Brining Chicken

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I brined a chicken last night with a cup of salt, 1/2 c sugar, and water to cover, plus. It was frozen, I defrosted it in the fridge yesterday and put it in the brine last night.

My intention was to roast it tonight, but I just got word of something that takes precedence over my chicken, which is still sitting in the fridge in it's brine.

If I leave it, and roast it tomorrow, will it be ok? Should I take it out of the brine, and if I do, how best to store until tomorrow?

Or, do I heave the thing because now it's been unfrozen for 48 hours? (That seems excessive, given that it was defrosted in the fridge in it's store packagings and then stored in the fridge in the brine.)

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i would take it out of the brine, rinse it and put it back in the fridge. you should be fine roasting it tomorrow.

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We've left turkey in brine for 2 days before, so, IMO, you're fine to leave it in the fridge until tomorrow :smile:

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If you leave it in the brine, it may get too salty. Take it out and dry it off. Letting the chicken air-dry in the fridge overnight is only a good thing, you're more likely to get a nice crisp skin that way anyway. I'd store it on a rack over a tray in the fridge, uncovered.

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Thank you all, I appreciate your thoughts very much. I don't often use meat as a centerpiece of a meal so I'm very unaccustomed to cooking it like this.

I am right over the river from you, in Virginia near Point O' Rocks.. Howdy, neigbour!

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I have y'all to thank for the best chicken EVER. YOu were right, Malawry, letting it air dry in the fridge was genius. I rubbed it with butter, herbed under the skin, and stuck it in my convection roaster. It was glorious and my family ate till they dropped. :wink:

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Wow - I think you've hit upon something brilliant there. I'm going to try that next time I do a roast chicken: brine then air dry :-)

Cheers!

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I'm so glad it worked out well. Air-drying is a great technique with brined chickens. :smile:

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This is something I do not only for crisp skin but to expedite worknight dinners-brine for an hour at night (using 1 cup kosher salt to 2 quarts water--you only need an hour of brine time, and more is not better), remove, rinse, pat dry, and leave in the fridge overnight on a rack over a plate, so it's not sitting in moisture. Roast the following evening after work. My convection oven cooks a butterflied roast chicken in 45 minutes so it's actually become a pretty fast weeknight dinner-I just need to cut up the potatoes or vegetables that I throw in there, too.

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Hi,

I have been experimenting with a new way to fully season, dry brine and herb a whole chicken under the skin. It's a new take on the Zuni method and looks very promising.

I slip the skin over the breast, remove excess fat, and swing out the thigh/leg quarters without any cuts to the skin. This permits full seasoning and herbing under the skin. Then a few days in the refrigerator before cooking.

Fresh basil looked turned the whole bird an awful looking green. It was wonderful.

The same technique allows for removal of the breast bones to be replaced by stuffing and topped by the boneless breasts and skin. Looks like a regular chicken but remarkably easy to carve.

Removal of internal fat does NOT result in dry meat, but does speed up the cooking.

Now I want to find a way to place a small fan in the refrigerator to really dry the skin.

Tim

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Now I want to find a way to place a small fan in the refrigerator to really dry the skin.

Tim

My son used a personal-sized, portable battery powered fan at camp this year. It was about the size of a small flashlight. I found it with all the other summer seasonal stuff so you might have to wait til spring or look for one in those camping catalogues....

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This is something I do not only for crisp skin but to expedite worknight dinners-brine for an hour at night (using 1 cup kosher salt to 2 quarts water--you only need an hour of brine time, and more is not better), remove, rinse, pat dry, and leave in the fridge overnight on a rack over a plate, so it's not sitting in moisture. Roast the following evening after work. My convection oven cooks a butterflied roast chicken in 45 minutes so it's actually become a pretty fast weeknight dinner-I just need to cut up the potatoes or vegetables that I throw in there, too.

I do the same thing. Brine. then remove the backbone. Flaten it out. Onto the broiler pan that came with the oven, into the fridge uncovered. Let it chill out over night until the next evening.

get home, slice some potatoes. But them in the bottom of the pan with some S&P. Season the bird. Into a HOT oven. It cooks pretty fast. Much faster than if it were whole.

It's good stuff. And the potatoes are to die for,

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This is something I do not only for crisp skin but to expedite worknight dinners-brine for an hour at night (using 1 cup kosher salt to 2 quarts water--you only need an hour of brine time, and more is not better), remove, rinse, pat dry, and leave in the fridge overnight on a rack over a plate, so it's not sitting in moisture. Roast the following evening after work. My convection oven cooks a butterflied roast chicken in 45 minutes so it's actually become a pretty fast weeknight dinner-I just need to cut up the potatoes or vegetables that I throw in there, too.

I do the same thing. Brine. then remove the backbone. Flaten it out. Onto the broiler pan that came with the oven, into the fridge uncovered. Let it chill out over night until the next evening.

get home, slice some potatoes. But them in the bottom of the pan with some S&P. Season the bird. Into a HOT oven. It cooks pretty fast. Much faster than if it were whole.

It's good stuff. And the potatoes are to die for,

How do you remove the backbone? Chicken is one of those things I love and am learning to butcher, but I fail at the moment.

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This is something I do not only for crisp skin but to expedite worknight dinners-brine for an hour at night (using 1 cup kosher salt to 2 quarts water--you only need an hour of brine time, and more is not better), remove, rinse, pat dry, and leave in the fridge overnight on a rack over a plate, so it's not sitting in moisture. Roast the following evening after work. My convection oven cooks a butterflied roast chicken in 45 minutes so it's actually become a pretty fast weeknight dinner-I just need to cut up the potatoes or vegetables that I throw in there, too.

I do the same thing. Brine. then remove the backbone. Flaten it out. Onto the broiler pan that came with the oven, into the fridge uncovered. Let it chill out over night until the next evening.

get home, slice some potatoes. But them in the bottom of the pan with some S&P. Season the bird. Into a HOT oven. It cooks pretty fast. Much faster than if it were whole.

It's good stuff. And the potatoes are to die for,

How do you remove the backbone? Chicken is one of those things I love and am learning to butcher, but I fail at the moment.

I just did this yesterday for the first time and it was easy (if you have a good pair of kitchen scissors). I just cut down both sides of the backbone and pulled it out. Then I flipped the chicken over and mashed on it with all my might. The chicken flattend right out. I didn't brine, but I marinated for an hour and then dry rubbed it. It sat in the fridge overnight and I grilled it in about 40 minutes. I read that if you remove the wishbone, it will carve better. I didn't bother.

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I just did this yesterday for the first time and it was easy (if you have a good pair of kitchen scissors). I just cut down both sides of the backbone and pulled it out. Then I flipped the chicken over and mashed on it with all my might. The chicken flattend right out. ...snip... I read that if you remove the wishbone, it will carve better. I didn't bother.

Is this technique called spatchcocking? I'd read about it but it sounded intimidating in the source I read, but this doesn't sound so bad. I may try it.

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Now I want to find a way to place a small fan in the refrigerator to really dry the skin.

Tim

My son used a personal-sized, portable battery powered fan at camp this year. It was about the size of a small flashlight. I found it with all the other summer seasonal stuff so you might have to wait til spring or look for one in those camping catalogues....

you could try a hairdryer on cool for about 10 to 15 minutes -- that's worked well for me with ducks

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I just did this yesterday for the first time and it was easy (if you have a good pair of kitchen scissors). I just cut down both sides of the backbone and pulled it out. Then I flipped the chicken over and mashed on it with all my might. The chicken flattend right out. ...snip... I read that if you remove the wishbone, it will carve better. I didn't bother.

Is this technique called spatchcocking? I'd read about it but it sounded intimidating in the source I read, but this doesn't sound so bad. I may try it.

It is indeed...

for real fun with chicken and your guests, grab a pair of good kitchen shears and reach into the chicken and start snipping and pulling bones out.

About 20 min later you should have just the legs and wing bones left.

Stuff the chicken and roast... later when you carve you can cut right across the bird and freak people out :raz:

tracey

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Hey, that's how I cook my Thanksgiving turkey! I didn't know it had such a great name. But I do the same thing with it: brine, take the back out and flatten, air dry in the fridge for a day, then roast at high heat. It goes fast, which I find helpful in a small one-oven kitchen.

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yup. spatchcocking is the name of the term.

I too use good kitchen shears. Just cut it out!

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I have come across a number of brine recipes so I thought I would conduct a brine experiment to see how different levels of salinity affects the final result.

METHOD

- 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.

COMMENT

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.

RESULT

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 (log)

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I'd want to see results for a second experiment in which they were all brined for the same amount of time.

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I don't think they should be brined for the same amount of time, Chris. Using various concentrations of hypertonic saline solution to brine is a bit like cooking with different amounts of heat. If you are comparing baking a chicken at 120C, 160C, and 200C, you can not cook them for the same amount of time. Same with brining.

I can tell you that none of the chickens at the end of the brining time was close to equilibrium. All you need to do is remember what the brine tasted like before you added the chicken. The 8% brine was crazy salty - so salty it was inedible. Yet the chicken turned out OK. IF I had allowed it to reach equilibrium, the chicken would be guaranteed to be inedible.

Ideally, the goal should be to find out what level of salinity in the meat corresponds with the most succulence and tenderness. Unfortunately I do not own one of those meters, but I understand it might be possible to kludge one together with a multimeter. Given that I lack such a machine and the ability to interpret the result, that might be something I should leave for more advanced practitioners.

Just so people have an idea, this is the salinity of some well known solutions:

- 0.9%: salinity of blood and muscle

- 1-2%: average salinity of seasoned foods

- 2.5%: salinity of an olive

- 3.1%: salinity of seawater


Edited by Keith_W (log)

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I have only tried equilibrium brining, using the tables in Modernist Cuisine. This works for me because I don't have to worry about the exact amount of time the meat spends in the brine - 24 hours might turn into 48 if I'm forgetful or if dinner plans change. I always brine pork belly and scallops - seems to make a noticeable difference to their juiciness.

My understanding is that brining is all about juiciness/succulence and not about seasoning. I thought the idea was to replace the natural salts and sugars which had been lost since butchering, not to add additional seasoning. I think that once you get a higher concentration of salts & sugars than you would naturally, you are technically curing the meat and not brining it. So even if I've had a pork belly brining for a few days before I cook it, I wouldn't expect it to be better seasoned - I would still expect to have to season it just as much as if it hadn't been brined. I would only expect it to be juicier.

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My understanding is that brining is all about juiciness/succulence and not about seasoning. I thought the idea was to replace the natural salts and sugars which had been lost since butchering, not to add additional seasoning.

Second the equilibrium brining. It's changed the way I cook. I brine by this method regularly and multiple times per week. @Keith_W, if you haven't tried out the method, you definitely should. As a practical matter, ChrisZ's point about not worrying about an exact time is a real blessing.

My bad if I missed it in MC, but I don't recall seeing a "losing salts and sugars" discussion there or hearing about it elsewhere. What would be the mechanism for losing salt after butchering? Maybe there's something obvious. Can't think of anything though.

I also thought it was mentioned that the sugar in the equilibrium brine recipe was to offset some of the harshness of the salt.

Whoops, baby woke up. Have to stop here.

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