Every time you cook chicken, do you find it ends up being dry and tasteless?
After you’ve fried or grilled it, does have a consistency on par with a shoe?
Fear not! I am here to help… I have no idea why I’m talking like a carnival ringleader from the 1900s but I’m going with it.
So, ROUND UP! ROUND UP! Here is how to cook chicken that stays incredibly juicy, tender and delicious!
If you’re going to batter your chicken (as in with eggs and flour and stuff, not a bare-knuckle throwdown) then I insist that you follow my instructions and you will never buy fast food chicken again! Well… you will, because it’s not like you can fry/bake your chicken in your car on the motorway. But you won’t do it out of choice again, which is more reasonable!
So HEAR YEE! HEAR YEE… ok, this is getting tiresome. I’m going back to normal.
We are going brine your chicken into next week!
What is brining?
Simply, brining is soaking meat in salty water. It makes the meat juicy, so it’s a good thing.
Isn’t that the same as marinating?
What are you? An amateur? No, it isn’t! That’s like saying swimming is like having a bath. Just because they both involve liquids doesn’t mean they’re the same thing you philistine. Marinating involves an acid (vinegar/fruit juice etc) and some sort of base (olive oil/coconut milk/beer). So there you go.
How does it work?
Oh, Christ, I thought this was a food blog. What do I look like? Neil Degrasse Tyson? I’m saying magic. Good enough for you?
Give me a sec, I’m going to Google it….
If you really want to know, read this.
Summarised, when you cook chicken it loses moisture. Brining the chicken means that it was extra moisture to lose. And the salt breaks down the proteins which contract and make it tough.
But brining is so much more than that. Through the wonderful power of osmosis (thank you Dr. Day, my Biology teacher) brining is an incredibly effective way to flavour your chicken throughout. The flavour in the salty water is carried into the chicken and just sinks right into the meat.
How do we brine?
Brining is simple. There are two versions:
- Wet brine
- Dry brine
Dry brine is simple where you grab salt, sugar and spices and rub it all over your bird (ha!). Then you leave it in the fridge for a few hours. Half an hour before you cook it, bring it out and let it get close to room temperature, pat it with kitchen roll so it doesn’t get soggy and cook.
Wet brine is, for me, where the magic is. It’s just amazing and it’s so easy.
A really simple brine is just:
About 2 litres of lukewarm (the best kind of warm) water
Half a cup of good quality salt
Half a cup of sugar (I only own brown sugar, so use that if you want)
Put it all together, stir it until it dissolves, drop the chicken in, make sure it’s completely covered (if not, make more and top up until it is) and leave it for at least 12 hours.
Take the chicken out, pat it dry with kitchen roll and then grill/fry it.
There’s so much more you can do, though. I’ve used the brine that jalapenos come in, pickle brine, a cup of balsamic vinegar, shots of tequila… the list just keeps on going.
You can throw spices in, brine it in fruit juices, make a kind of brine/marinade hybrid.
Whatever you do, rest safe in the knowledge that your chicken is going to be juicy as hell!