Brining Poultry

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Brining poultry, especially breast meat, adds moisture and flavor to the meat. Brining consists of preparing a salt water solution in a 1:8 cup ratio of salt to water. The bird is then soaked in the brine for a period of time, much like a marinade. To put it scientifically, the brine hydrates the muscle tissues allowing them to retain moisture during cooking which helps the meat stay moist.

You don’t have to be cooking a whole bird to use this technique. In fact, because boneless skinless chicken breasts dry out so easily during cooking, they benefit greatly from a quick (30 minute) soak in a brine solution.

The simple 1:8 cup ratio if salt to water can be enhanced by steeping fresh herbs in the liquid so as to infuse the meat not just with moisture, but flavor as well. Additionally, you can substitute part of the water for other liquids, such as lemon juice or apple cider.

You must keep the salt to liquid ratio the same, but you can increase or decrease the full amount in order to accommodate the size of what you plan to brine. The recipe below is for brining a whole chicken.

1 cup kosher salt
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
4 cloves garlic
3 cups water
5 cups ice cold water

Bring 3 cups water to boil in a pot. Mince the garlic. Remove the thyme leaves from stem, if using fresh. Add garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and salt to boiling water. Stir until all the salt has dissolved, and then turn off heat.

Allow mixture to steep for 30 minutes. Stir in 5 cups ice cold water. Pour the cooled brine into a heavy duty sealable zip top bag. Gallon sized freezer bags work great for small chickens. For a turkey, use a larger bag, such as a 1.25 ft. x 1.25 ft. zip top bag or a bag specifically designed for brining turkeys.

Submerge the bird into the brine, making sure the brine fills the cavity and that the breasts are fully submerged. Seal and place in the refrigerator.

Small chickens can be brined in just a few hours, 3 at most, where as a turkey should be brined for 12-24 hours.

After the brining time is up, remove the bird from the liquid, drain and pat dry. You will not need to salt the bird, but you may wish to place additional herbs underneath the skin, rub the bird with butter, and/or stuff the cavity with onion, carrot, and celery.

To roast: bird should start out roasting breast side down, this helps prevent dry white meat, followed by roasting breast side up. A perfect roasting is achieved best by monitoring the bird with a thermometer to ensure neither under or over cooking occurs. A temperature reading 165 degrees F indicates a safe done-ness for poultry. Allow bird to rest for 5 minutes before carving (10 minutes for a large turkey).

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Reader Comments:

54321

Paula how do you make your silly salt? Please email me. Thank you Linda Bell

By lb1007 on March 28, 2014

54321

I have brined a few times and I brine my turkey overnight. 8 - 10 hours, and I sub 4 cup apple cider for cold water. In my head the sweetness of the cider counteracts the taste of the salt.I have also fried the brined turkey. just make sure you dry it off good before droping it in the oil. Hope this answers your questions.

By Jim Stoneburner on November 18, 2012

54321

Hi there! I just read the Easy Breezy Bringing recipe. Im going to be brining for the First time and am kind of nervous!!! I did not see how long to brine the Turkey? This seems to be the Easiest recipe online! Im just want to be sure my turkey does not come out Salty (scared lol) If you can just let me know how long to brine my turkey...that would be appreciated! Take care and i look forward to your reply! Linda

By LINDA M on November 15, 2012

54321

Anyone ever fried a brined turkey?

By Joan Mitchell on November 05, 2011

54321

Hi Paula, I saw you on the food tv show last week in your fat lady costume. Hilarious laughed all week Luv you

By Marjorie on November 04, 2011

54321

With Thanksgiving coming up, would this work with a turkey as well??

By David Collins on November 04, 2011

54321

Hey Debbie! Thank you so much for catching this error!!! We have amended the recipe to read correctly.

By Libbie Summers, Senior Food Editor on April 02, 2011

54321

Confusion ... ingredient list states 4 cups Boiling Water ..... directions state Bring 3 cups water to boil in a pot????? 3 cups with 5 cups of ice cold - make sense for the 1:8 ratio

By Debbie Selcz on March 21, 2011

Turkey Brine

By Tonja on December 23, 2011

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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 9:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 7:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 3:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 10:03 pm