Monday, January 25, 2010

Brining boneless/skinless chicken breasts

As we have heard on many occasions, brining chicken is a good way to keep the meat juicy - especially for parts that are naturally dry - like boneless/skinless breasts. Many of you know that I will almost always choose an opportunity to get some fat/flavor into my dishes, but sometimes that simply isn't an option.
Yesterday afternoon I was presented with about 3lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts of varying thickness and told that they needed to be grilled. No it wasn't that peremptory, but the people concerned had clearly experienced dry chicken before.

There really aren't many opportunities for getting flavoring in, so brining was it. It is pretty straightforward and doesn't require a whole lot of precision, just some attention to hygeine.
1/2 cup table salt (3/4 - 1 cup kosher salt)
6 whole cloves
6 whole cardomoms (green or white it doesn't matter)
12 whole peppercorns
12 coriander seeds
2 star anise
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 cups ice cubes
4 cups ice water
3lb chicken breasts

In a non reactive pan put the first 8 ingredients. Bring to the boil and stir until the salt/sugar are dissolved. Immedietaley add the ice too cool. Pour liquid into a 1 gallon zip-lock bag and add the cold water. Add the chicken breasts. Seal the bag, expelling all the air.
Refrigerate the chicken breasts for 1 - 2 hours. No more than 2 hours.
When ready to grill, pour the liquid off the breasts, rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Make sure you carefully wash down the surfaces that have touched the raw chicken.
 Cook the chicken on a high heat grill for a couple of minutes/side. Thicker pieces will need longer than thinner pieces of course. Use the nick and peek technique to check for doneness.

1 comment:

jabrewer3 said...

Great idea and a fantastic coincidence... I just brined chicken for pan roasting for the first time yesterday! I did not favor the brine as exquisitely as you did here and am looking forward to your formula. But the results for juicy and tender were fantastic as you report. Thanks for the tip!