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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

To Brine, or Not to Brine. . . That is the Question

To Brine, or not to brine, that is the question. I’ve recently heard from several sources that brining (chicken, turkey) is the way to go. It is reported to produce a very juicy, flavorful bird. So, I did a little research, watched the how-to video on Rouxbe: http://rouxbe.com/cooking-school/lessons/245-how-to-brine

 Then with my recipe in hand, I created the brining liquid and brined our first ever, chicken. I used this basic recipe:
1 qt. water
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 garlic cloves
Black peppercorns

Doubled it, since I needed 2 qts. of water to completely cover my chicken, then heated until boiling, and the salt and sugar were incorporated. Then I let steep and then cool.

I brined my bird for 5 hours (recommended 1 hr. per lb.) removed from brine, then let dry in the fridge for 2 hours. From there, I pat the bird dry, added butter and some seasonings and tossed it into the oven.

All in all, I have to say we weren’t impressed. Mr. B, a big fan of chicken, has told me time and time again, that I have NEVER (in our 15 year together) made a dry chicken (not just baked, but ANY chicken or Turkey recipe I’ve cooked). For the baked chicken, I always used my grandmother’s recipe, and never gave it a second thought. But after having a brined, and what was supposed to be a very juicy bird, which was about the same tenderness, and juice that we get from my tried-n-true Grammy’s recipe (without all the fuss up front) I’ve vowed to never stray again. So, I bestow onto thee (you, the reader) my Grandmother’s Baked Chicken recipe. May you use it to enjoy your own juicy chicken (without all the fuss of brining!)

Grammy’s Baked Chicken Recipe

1 chicken (fryer or roaster – depends on the amount of meals served)
Butter, unsalted
Thyme (dried or fresh)
Sage (dried or fresh)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chicken stock or water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove chicken from package, making sure you remove the gizzards, neck, etc. Rinse in cold water and place into roasting pan. Pat dry with paper towel. Add ½ cup water or chicken stock to the bottom of the pan. Place 2 tablespoons (or more if desired) of butter onto the chicken breast. Add pinch of thyme, sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Bake for approximately 30 min. per pound, or until the juices run clear and there is a nice brown crust on the poultry.

Yes, it’s simple. But Yes, it works! Try it, and you’ll see that your chicken comes out perfect every time. Also, the added stock/water in the bottom of the pan allows for an awesome pan gravy if you wish.

Happy, allergy-free eating!


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