Does brining sound complicated to you? Well, it did to me before I knew what it actually was. Now that I know how easy it can be, I do it all the time...when I have the time.
I think you will all enjoy this guest blog entry from Matthew Ward, Executive Sous Chef at the The Adolphus in Dallas, TX.
Take it away, Matt!
With the chill of winter finally vacating stage right, it’s time to start getting excited about the arrival of spring & summer. What excites me most about this time of year is the art of grilling and the endless possibilities that come with it. I’ve rediscovered a foolproof way to keep my chickens and cuts of pork juicier and more flavorful. It takes only three simple ingredients: water, salt and sugar. Brining, simply put, is just a dry cure in water. The three main ingredients work together; resulting in a juicer and more flavorful piece of chicken or pork. The possibilities are endless when it comes to flavoring your brine. All kinds of fruit juices can be substituted for the water in whole or part. Herbs and spices can be added to the brine to add more complexity to the brine. The most important thing is to keep the water to salt ratio the same and to adjust brining times to suite the size of your cut of chicken or pork. Larger cuts need a longer soak versus smaller cuts like chicken breast or pork chops. I’ve included a favorite brining recipe of mine that I’ve used for half chickens that I cook on the grill each summer.
Lemon & Rosemary Brine
1 gallon Water
1 cup Kosher Salt
¼ cup Sugar
¼ cup Brown Sugar
1 bunch Rosemary, fresh
1 bunch Thyme, fresh
3 each Bay Leaves
2 each Shallots, sliced
2 each Heads of Garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. White Peppercorns, crushed
4 each Lemons, cut in half, squeezed
4 each Half Chickens, approx. 1 ½ lbs. each
Combine all of the ingredients (up to lemons) in a large pot and bring to a boil. Let all the ingredients steep and cool down to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator and leave until the brine is cold. Place half chickens in the brining solution, return to the refrigerator & let sit for four hours. Make sure the chickens are completely submerged in the brine. Use a small plate to hold the chickens down if needed. After four hours remove the chickens from the brine & discard the brine. Pat the chicken dry & let sit for 30 to 45 minutes.
From this point the seasonings are up to you. I usually season the chicken with some kosher salt & fresh ground pepper and let the brine work its magic on the grill. My method is to grill the chicken on medium high until the skin gets nice and crispy and then move it to the cooler side of my grill to finish. You will be amazed how juicy the birds are and how subtle the saltiness finishes with every bite.