Whenever I cook a whole chicken, or really just about any chicken on the bone, I like to brine the chicken. Brines, really just a mixture of water, sugar and salt, are a great way to add additional moisture and flavor to meat like chicken. They also work really well with pork, and you can find a similar pork brine here. In this recipe video, I show you how to make a simple flavored brine that works really well with chicken. While brining takes some time (mostly just marinating time in the fridge) if you can plan ahead a bit, I guarantee you’ll end up with a better finished chicken that is moist, tender and absolutely delicious. Enjoy!
CHICKEN BRINE RECIPE
Ingredients for Chicken Brine
- 2 quarts of water (about half of which will be ice)
- 1/2 cup of Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 roughly chopped onion
- 1 roughly chopped carrot
- A couple tablespoons ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- Heaping tablespoon of Thyme
Recipe Overview & Keys to Success
Making a brine is very simple and there aren't really are any tricks. Just watch these couple things:
- Make sure you don’t burn the onion, carrot, garlic. I like them nicely softened/slightly browned, as that gives up a lot of flavor. Just don’t walk away and burn them…or your brine will taste burnt
- You need enough salt and sugar to make the water taste salty and sweet. Taste the brine before you add the chicken. It should definitely be salty/sweet, but if it tastes “bad” in any sense of word, add some more water to dilute it out.
- Finally, make sure your brine is cold before using it. You do not want to enable bacteria growth, by using a hot or warm brine.
Making the Brine
- Coarsely chop the onion, carrot and garlic, and sauté in a pot with some olive oil until the onions & garlic are soft – about 10 minutes
- Add the thyme and stir to combine; let cook for about 30 seconds
- Add the salt and sugar and stir to combine
- Add about a quart of water, and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar
- Turn off the heat
- Pour the brine into a large bowl into which you’ve you place ice cubes; about another quarts worth of water, but there is no reason to measure – just use a couple cups
- Allow the ice to melt, and taste
- Add any additional water to further dilute the brine; or salt/sugar to make it stronger; allow to cool in the fridge, and you’re ready to use.
To use the brine, allow the chicken to sit submerged for 5 – 8 hours, or even overnight. Hope you enjoy it, and let me know how it goes.