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Brining chicken can make it juicier and more flavorful than just baking it alone. There are many ways to brine a chicken that mostly depend on personal preference. One of the keys is having a recipe that will enhance the chicken's flavor without overpowering it. Brining chicken can be done with a combination of herb or fruit based mixtures.
Kosher salt is a major component in brining chicken. Many times the brine will also call for apple cider or some other juice in addition to water to add flavor to the meat. One of the most important parts of the brining process is to ensure that there isn't too much salt in the mixture. The salt is an important ingredient because it holds the juice into the meat while cooking, but if too much salt is used in the brine the result will be an overly salty taste to the meat.
There usually are many pre-packaged brines available in grocery and specialty food stores. A person should carefully read the labels to make sure that the amount of brine is appropriate for the size of the chicken. It is also important to ensure that the chicken wasn't brined or otherwise seasoned prior to packaging. These two steps are important in preventing an overly salty chicken. Brining chicken is almost an art form that may take some practice.
The chicken should sit in the brine in the refrigerator for about 1 hour per pound (0.45 kilograms). Leaving it there longer may allow too much salt to be absorbed into the meat. Once the brining chicken is removed from the solution, it should be rinsed thoroughly with water. This will help remove the excess salt and seasoning. Once the brining is over, the chicken should be prepared for cooking the same as it would have been had there been no brine.
There are several methods of cooking a brined chicken. The use of an oven bag is one way to help seal in the chicken's juices. A rinsed chicken can be placed in the bag with some seasoning, herbs, and butter. The bag is then tied and placed into a roasting pan and cooked according to its weight. Alternately, the chicken can be placed directly into the roasting pan and other accompaniments, such as vegetables and potatoes, can be added.
A brined chicken also can be great on a grill. Since the juices have been sealed in with the brine, the skin should become dark and crispy. Also, the meat should remain tender and juicy.
Aromatics are key for brining, in my opinion. You just need them. They add subtle flavor. I'm all for adding a quartered onion and about three or four cloves of smashed garlic. Of course, I also put smashed garlic cloves in the cavity of the bird if I'm roasting it whole.
An oven bag is fine for brining. Just make sure you put the bag in a pan or dish, in case of leaks. That way, you don't get nasty stuff all over your fridge, which will require a massive cleaning. I'm also a fan of adding lemons, oranges or both to the brining solution. Whatever adds flavor is usually good.
Brining a chicken isn't difficult, but as the article says, you do have to be careful about the amount of salt you use. A third to half a cup is probably plenty for a 3 or 4 pound bird. Most people use a full cup when they're brining a 12-14 pound turkey, so you have to figure you'll be using much less for a chicken.
I also like to combine brown sugar and lots of aromatics like sage, thyme and rosemary in the mixture. It really does make a difference. The hubs has brined chicken, and one of his favorite tricks is to squeeze the juice of an orange, or two lemons, into the juice and then add the fruit itself. It's really good.
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