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Brining Chicken


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The other issue I always have with brining is taking off the skin.

 

In life the skin is not water or salt permeable. I can't see why that should change post mortem.

 

Salts permeate < 1 cm/day (from curing literature) and no wing has 1 cm of meat, so a day ought to be t he max needed.

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it's pretty rare to wet brine for more than a day and you make a good point about the the salt being in the outer layer, that is why I always put my brined half chickens on racks to allow for the salt to equalize throughout the meat and for the skin to dry in the walk-in for 24 hours before using. 

 

Personally, I stick to 5% salt in my brine as well although i've seen much higher just think it's unnecessary 

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Well, thank you to everyone!  We'll see.  I've dumped the wings into the brine.  I'm not waiting 24 hours and from what you've said, the pepper shouldn't be terribly overpowering.  I get your point about the skin, @gfweb, but I feel like I might as well be eating tofu if my chicken is skinless 😉.  Plus, the wings will be fried, so they'll need the protection.  

 

 

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I see @Kim Shook has already proceeded, but for those that follow: the reason you refrigerate the brine before adding the target food is to minimize time spent in the "danger zone."

 

I'm dubious of most of the things people add to brines. If it won't dissolve in water, it can't pass through the cell membrane. A few molecules might linger in crevices and such -- that's why there's so much pepper in the recipe. Don't be lazy -- if you want pepper on your chicken, put pepper on your chicken.

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Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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17 hours ago, Dave the Cook said:

I see @Kim Shook has already proceeded, but for those that follow: the reason you refrigerate the brine before adding the target food is to minimize time spent in the "danger zone."

 

I'm dubious of most of the things people add to brines. If it won't dissolve in water, it can't pass through the cell membrane. A few molecules might linger in crevices and such -- that's why there's so much pepper in the recipe. Don't be lazy -- if you want pepper on your chicken, put pepper on your chicken.

 Even many of the things that do dissolve in water won't pass through the cell membrane. I think it was Hervé This who demonstrated this. Any molecule much bigger than table salt is staying on the outside. I forget if sugar was even able to penetrate. 

 

This doesn't mean that won't flavor the meat from the outside ... it's just not magically infusing into the cells. 

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Notes from the underbelly

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19 hours ago, weinoo said:

Dry brine is, to my taste, better.

 

Agree 100%.

 

I experimented with brining chicken and pork back when it was all the rage, and just didn't like it. It does make the meat ... wetter. But this isn't the same as juicier. The brine does not add juiciness that tastes the way I want juices to taste. 

 

The processes that make meats taste better tend to involve removing moisture, not adding it (dry aging, etc.). This concentrates flavors rather than diluting them. 

 

The secret to making things juicy is not overcooking them.

 

If you brine long enough to start affecting protein structures, textures can get weird.

 

The one thing I still brine is seafood. Especially scallops, or fish that will be cooked sous-vide. I use a formula that firms the texture of the flesh a bit, and helps keep it from oozing albumin. But chicken?   I like it with kosher salt sprinkled on the outside. If it's a special bird, I'll do it the night before and let it sit loosely covered in the fridge.

Edited by paulraphael (log)
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Notes from the underbelly

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58 minutes ago, gfweb said:

@paulraphael Re the albumin ooze from fish. I steam lots of fish in the CSO and have found that simply light salting an hour before stanches the flow. I'll lightly sugar it too sometimes.

When you steam fish in the CSO, what temp do you use?  I've been using 210, but I wonder if 200 might be better

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3 hours ago, KennethT said:

When you steam fish in the CSO, what temp do you use?  I've been using 210, but I wonder if 200 might be better

I do 210-220 depending on size and watch it like a hawk. Salmon I pull at 115F internal temp.

Edited by gfweb (log)
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3 hours ago, paulraphael said:

The one thing I still brine is seafood. Especially scallops, or fish that will be cooked sous-vide. I use a formula that firms the texture of the flesh a bit, and helps keep it from oozing albumin. But chicken?   I like it with kosher salt sprinkled on the outside. If it's a special bird, I'll do it the night before and let it sit loosely covered in the fridge.

 

Yes - the wild gulf shrimp I often cook get a 30-45 minute brine bath. The farmer's market scallops I haven't tried to brine; maybe next time.

 

Salmon is the only fish I've cooked and had albumin; lowering the cooking temperature (and probably presalting) alleviated that issue. 

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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1 hour ago, weinoo said:

 

Yes - the wild gulf shrimp I often cook get a 30-45 minute brine bath. The farmer's market scallops I haven't tried to brine; maybe next time.

 

Salmon is the only fish I've cooked and had albumin; lowering the cooking temperature (and probably presalting) alleviated that issue. 

I wouldn't brine scallops - dry packed scallops are valued because they are dry packed - bringing them will just make them weep liquid during searing, and you won't be able to get a really good sear

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1 hour ago, gfweb said:

I do 210-220 depending on size and watch it like a hawk. Salmon I pull at 215F internal temp.

Typo?  Salmon at internal of 215F would be a block of wood...  I think 115F, right?

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Just now, KennethT said:

Typo?  Salmon at internal of 215F would be a block of wood...  I think 115F, right?

LOL. yes. 115F.

Fat fingers

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48 minutes ago, KennethT said:

I wouldn't brine scallops - dry packed scallops are valued because they are dry packed - bringing them will just make them weep liquid during searing, and you won't be able to get a really good sear

 

Yep - I really don't see the need with the scallops I get from either of the fishmongers at Union Square; they're quite perfect as they are.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Brining scallops doesn't do what you think it does. At least If you do it the right way. It can be a little helpful for good quality dry-packed scallops, but makes a much bigger improvement on wet-packed and most frozen scallops. It simply firms the flesh a bit and makes them easier to cook well. It doesn't inject them with lots of moisture like typical poultry brining. You go for a much more subtle effect.

 

I brine salmon before cooking sous-vide. If sauteeing I don't bother. Like with scallops, it's a subtle brine done for a specific purpose, with the brine concentration calibrated to the brining time.

 

My point with the seafood brine is that it can be useful, whereas I've completely given up on brining land creatures.

Notes from the underbelly

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Well, I couldn't taste the pepper (that's to the good, I think), but I'm glad I brined.  It is hard to tell when wings are done (especially with this particular recipe), so they sometimes get a little overdone.  My wings were juicy and tender - even reheated.  I think I'll just leave out the pepper next time.

 

Thanks for all the advice!

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I have brine & cooked chicken following Heston's method. Basically the chicken is cooked over a long period of time below boiling point.  The brine is to increase the moisture in the chicken. The brine I used imparted a slight salty taste, not unpleasant but noticeable. The chicken was super juicy and melt in the mouth tender. The texture and mouth feel bears no resemblance at all to the traditional ways of roasting chicken.

 

As for scallops (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scallop ) (there are many different types and substitutes) I was involved in the harvesting and shelling of wild scallops and can say unequivocally that fresh scallops will absorb about their own weight in water. This dilutes the flavor but has the advantage that it increases the weight (they are sold by weight 🙂)

BUT if you leave them on a plate or rack in the fridge (or the bench) the water will drain out of them taking some of the flavor with it.

Not sure if that also occurs for frozen scallops, I assume they would be the same.

One indicator is that the meat of the scallop is nice and white when  lots of water has been absorbed. They are usually a dull white when first shelled. Retailers love nice and plump and white because they look good and more importantly weigh more. On display they will nearly always  have a good deal of liquid in the dish/display case. This is to keep the plump and is actually what has come out of the scallops.

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