Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cooking with Beer: Beer Brined Chicken

I was inspired to brine a bird after my Dad brined his turkey for the past Thanksgiving. It is amazing the amount of flavor that can be absorbed, plus the moisture and extra salt is a bonus. I promise once you brine you won't go back. It really doesn't take much time but it does require planning.

The science behind brining is simple, you have two different solutions 1.water in bird and 2.brining solution. The 2 solutions have a difference in salt concentration so in order to equal out, osmosis (liquid transfer) must occur. So the boring moisture in the bird is replaced with the flavorful brine. Plus it increase tenderness by denaturing protein due to the salt and helps preserve the meat.

  • 1 chicken (size doesn't matter, but it does help if it can fit in a pot)
For Brine (Add to 2 qt pot, simmer for 10 minutes):
  • 2 beers (use what you would drink with chicken or that would go well with the spices used in the recipe, I used a wheat beer but anything that isn't too dark/roast or hoppy (if you experiment, leave a comment)
  • 1/2 cup fine grind sea salt (or 1 cup coarse grind Kosher salt)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP Thyme dried or 1 bunch/fistfull of fresh (easily foraged see post)
  • 4 bay leaves (foraged)
  • 2 twigs rosemary (or forage wild rosemary)
  • 4 garlic cloves that should be diced
  • 1 medium onion (choose your favorite type) also diced
  • 2 lemons zest goes into boil and slices go directly into pot

After the Brine has been simmered add ice to fill the rest of pot. And then place the pot in the refrigerator for an hour or until cool. Put you chicken and lemons in any pot or ziploc that can hold it. Then pour the brine over the chicken and make sure it covers the chicken. If you don't have enough brine then top off with water or beer.Let the bird brine anywhere from 12 hours to 48 hours. Anymore may make the chicken too salty.

After proper soaking time, remove the bird, rinse and then pat dry. Preheat the oven to 350F and follow the time guidelines based on the size of your bird. To check if the bird is done insert thermometer into the inner thigh (close to, but not touching the thigh bone) it should read at least 165 F. Now take the bird out and wrap in foil and let it rest for 10 min. (very important or all the juice you brined in there will just gush out). Plus the bird will continue cooking to the proper temperature.

Eat with your favorite side dish (check for roast potatoes post using the drippings) and beer.
Additional ideas are smoking the bird and deep frying the bird. Leave me comments if you try this.

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