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Old 07-26-2010, 07:12 AM   #1
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How to brine a chicken...

So, i have this small whole chicken and i want to try out brining. i am a dark meat person and i think its such a waste to just toss out the rest of the chicken! i try not to, but my motivation to eat it usually doesnt come until its far too late (enter food poisoning and whatnot)

so, im watching these youtube videos and every single brine solution has sugar! um...that sorta defeats my purpose here.

do any of you have any experience with making a brine? also, do you have a recipe that does not include sugar? that would be fabulous!
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Old 07-26-2010, 07:18 AM   #2
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I use SPLENDA in sugar's place. Just remember....SPLENDA tends to be a bit sweeter so you don't have to use as much.
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Old 07-26-2010, 08:24 AM   #3
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I brine my chicken all the time and I don't worry about the sugar in the brine. Only a miniscule amount will actually end up in the chicken. Most of it gets thrown out with the brine.

Brined chickens are really yummy, by the way. So much moister than plain chicken. I'm a dark meat gal, too, but I enjoy the white meat, too, when it is brined.

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Old 07-26-2010, 08:58 AM   #4
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You can't avoid the sugar, I don't think. Something about the way the sugar and the salt work together on a molecular level makes the meat juicier. But like KrisA said, very little actually makes its way into the meat. I've brined turkey before and it is neither sweet or salty even though there is lots of sugar and salt in the brine.
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Old 07-26-2010, 09:05 AM   #5
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I know this isn't brining but I believe it to taste better!

I add rosemary powder and finely chopped garlic to butter, cream it lift the skin and rub the breast. Melt some remaining butter and pour over the top of the chicken.

I vote for BUTTER!
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Old 07-26-2010, 09:14 AM   #6
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Dry brine it without sugar! The most fabulous way to oven roast a whole chicken is in this recipe. It's kind of an internet sensation actually. It's called The Zuni Chicken recipe from a restaurant (Zuni Cafe) in the San Francisco area I believe. This is the only way I ever do a whole chicken and it's amazing and gets rave reviews from everyone I've served it to. It's worth the time and once you've done it once, you can do it in your sleep it's that easy.

Zuni Roast Chicken
- serves 2 to 4, depending on how hungry everyone is -

One small chicken, 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 pounds
4 tender sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary, or sage, about 1/2 inch long
About 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
A little water

1. Seasoning the chicken (1 to 3 days before serving; for 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 pound chickens, at least 2 days): Remove and discard the lump of fat inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry inside and out. Be thorough--a wet chicken will spend too much time steaming before it begins to turn golden brown.

2. Approaching from the edge of the cavity, slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets. Now use the tip of your finger to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh. Using your finger, shove an herb sprig into each of the 4 pockets.

3. Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and the pepper (we use 3/4 teaspoon sea salt per pound of chicken). Season the thick sections a little more heavily than the skinny ankles and wings. Sprinkle a little of the salt just inside the cavity, on the backbone, but don't otherwise worry about seasoning the inside. Twist and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders. Cover loosely and refrigerate.

4. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Depending on the size, efficiency, and accuracy of your oven, and the size of your bird, you may need to adjust the heat to as high as 500 degrees or as low as 450 degrees during the course of roasting the chicken to get it to brown properly. If that proves to be the case, begin at that temperature the next time you roast a chicken. If you have a convection function on your oven, use it for the first 30 minutes; it will enhance browning, and may reduce overall cooking time by 5 to 10 minutes.

5. Choose a shallow flameproof roasting pan or dish barely larger than the chicken, or use a 10-inch skillet with an all-metal handle. Preheat the pan over medium heat. Wipe the chicken dry and set it breast side up in the pan. It should sizzle.

6. Place in the center of the oven and listen and watch for it to start sizzling and browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn't, raise the temperature progressively until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoiking, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over (drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the skin from sticking.) Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to recrisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes. Total oven time will be 45 minutes to an hour.

7. Remove the chicken from the oven and turn off the heat. Lift the chicken from the roasting pan and set on a plate. Carefully pour the clear fat from the roasting pan, leaving the lean drippings behind. Add about a tablespoon of water to the hot pan and swirl it. Slash the stretched skin between the thighs and breasts of the chicken, then tilt the bird and plate over the roasting pan to drain the juice into the drippings. Set the chicken in a warm spot (which may be your stovetop), and leave to rest. The meat will become more tender and uniformly succulent as it cools. Tilt the roasting pan and skim the last of the fat. Place over medium-low heat, add any juice that has collected under the chicken, and bring to a simmer. Stir and scrape to soften any hard golden drippings. Taste--the juices will be extremely flavorful.

8. Cut the chicken into pieces and pour the pan drippings over the chicken.

The Best Roast Chicken Recipe? Who Wants to Try It With Me? | Serious Eats : Recipes
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Old 07-26-2010, 09:35 AM   #7
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I always roast my chicken breast side down. It makes a huge difference in the moistness of the white meat. If I'm going to "present" the whole chicken, I'll turn it breast side up for 10 or 15 minutes at the end of the roasting time to brown it up nicely.

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Old 07-26-2010, 12:07 PM   #8
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From Cooking for Engineers:

"What does brining do?
Brining is the soaking of meat in a solution of water and salt. Additional flavorings like sugar and spices can also me added, but salt is what makes a brine a brine (just like acid makes a marinade a marinade). This soaking causes the meat to gain some saltiness and flavoring while plumping it up with water so that after cooking it still contains a lot of juices. "

I would conclude from this that sugar has no chemical or reactive role to play in brining.
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Old 07-26-2010, 01:09 PM   #9
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I highly recommend you try the French Chicken in a Pot recipe herehttp://www.slashfood.com/2007/12/20/cooks-illustrated-helps-me-cook-a-chicken-in-a-pot/

The breast comes out so wonderful that I end up letting my husband have all the dark meat and hoarding it myself! The dark meat is good too this way though.
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Old 07-26-2010, 03:52 PM   #10
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I didn't think sugar was necessary for brining, I don't add sugar to my brine. I thought salt was the only necessary ingredient to brine. Just this morning, I brined my pork chops in salt water and they are really juicy and flavorful!
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Old 07-26-2010, 07:53 PM   #11
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I don't add sugar to mine either - just salt and water, usually, ratio I use is 1/4 cup salt to 1 quart water. Warm the water up in the MW til it's at least body temp and it will dissolve the salt much more easily, but you don't HAVE to do that - and you MUST cool it again before poking the chicken in it!

Something like a styrofoam cooler is nice for a bird that is too big for a ziploc bag. I've also used clean 13 gallon garbage bags, doubled up and put the bird in, pour in the brine, press out as much air as possible, and twisty-tie it shut, then put it in a bowl in the fridge (in case any water does leak out) - you want to brine it at least a couple hours but not more than 12 or the meat starts to get kind of mushy.

If you use a cooler, make sure it's very clean; keep it cold by adding Blue Ice or other ice packs so it doesn't further dilute the water, or put ice cubes in ziploc bags and use that.

When ready to cook, drain the bird really well, rinse really well, drain and pat dry.

You can also dry-brine which involves rubbing plenty of salt under the skin and letting it sit in the fridge for a day or two - again, rinse and dry well before cooking it.

Be sure you're NOT starting with a bird that is kosher (or otherwise already brined) or injected with salt/water solutions or you will end up with one salty chicken!
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