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Posts Tagged ‘brine’

smoked whole chicken

Smoked, brined chicken. Isn’t it a lovely color?

The first time I brined a chicken, it was an act of desperation. I had purchased a couple whole chickens at a good price, and we have a great roasted chicken recipe. But with more than one, there was no way we needed to cook both, so one went into the deep freeze. (I’ve mentioned I love my deep freeze.)

One thing I have never – never – had luck with is thawing a whole chicken. (Here are the USDA’s guidelines for safe thawing.) Everything I’ve read says a 3.5 pound chicken should thaw in your refrigerator in a day. I tried that. It was most definitely still frozen, even after two days or three. I got frustrated with cool water methods. (What a waste of water!)

So I decided to brine the chicken in the frig for 48 hours. I figured unlike most cool water methods, where you keep the chicken in its plastic bag so the water doesn’t touch it, the brine is allowed to penetrate all the cavities in the chicken, allowing warmth to seep in everywhere.

What do you know, it worked! Not only did my chicken thaw completely in far less time than all my other attempts, it was the tastiest, juiciest, most tender bird I’d ever roasted. This is what I posted to Facebook:

“If you’ve never brined a chicken before roasting/grilling it, DO IT! I did it Saturday out of desperation since the chicken did not get taken out of the freezer. We roasted it today in the usual way, and it was wonderful!”

I’ve since tried brining for only 24 hours, and if I recall correctly, my bird was completely thawed then, too. Hooray! I get a thawed bird AND tastier chicken? That’s a win! I brined my Christmas turkey, and that, too, got raves.

A few years ago, my husband took up smoking meats as a hobby. What a tasty hobby! We’ve enjoyed several experiments over the years, and I’m sure I’ll share a few of them with you, but one of our daughter’s favorites is Dad’s smoked chicken. “It doesn’t even need ranch dressing!” That’s a high compliment in our house!

Brine for Chicken

  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or brown sugar)
  • Added flavorings (try rosemary and sage, or whatever suits you!)

Dissolve salt and sugar in water in a large ziptop or other food-safe plastic bag. Add flavorings as desired. Place your chicken in the bag, making sure all cavities are filled with water. Seal bag tightly and place in a deep bowl in the frig overnight.

Drain brine. Pat chicken dry and cook as usual. (Roast, grill, smoke, you name it!) Enjoy!

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Vanilla and pork? Hmmm. When we first tried this, the recipe had us make grilled peaches and a peach spread to put on pork chops before grilling them. The peach spread didn’t thrill us, but the brined pork chops are easy and incredible! The brine tenderizes the meat, and causes it to soak in flavor. (I will definitely be covering brining in a future post.)

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Vanilla Pork Chops, shown here with Veggie Trio

We make this family favorite often – even my girls love them. When we can, we grill them, but they taste great broiled or just baked in the oven as well.

Vanilla Pork Chops

  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. In large plastic bag or container, combine water, salt, sugar and vanilla until salt and sugar are dissolved. Place chops in bag and set in deep bowl. (I use a deep container and don’t use a bag.) Refrigerate 6-24 hours.
  2. Drain chops. Grill over medium coals 6-8 minutes per side, or until meat thermometer reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternately, you can broil approx. 5 minutes per side, or bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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