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Why to brine your poultry before cooking.
What is a brine? And how does it effect my poultry?
A brine is a salt solution often infused with other flavors to make your meat more tender and flavorful. The purpose of brining your poultry, and other meats, before hand is to impart more flavor, tenderize the meat and make the meat juicier in the final outcome.
Salt and water, huh? Yes indeed, salt and water make up the basic part of the brine. You want about one cup of table salt without iodine (one and a half cups of sea salt or coarse kosher salt) to one gallon of water . A raw egg (in the shell please) will float if your ratio of salt to water is right. A great experiment for the kids if they like to help in the kitchen! I know it sounds like alot, but trust me, it will be ok. Now to add more flavor as your poultry soaks, some common add ins are garlic, black pepper, pickling spice, vinegar, tarragon, allspice, cumin, molasses, brown sugar, honey... And the list goes on and on and on. The seasonings depend on you, or you can simply Google brines and pick one that suits you, trust me there are lots to choose from!
But how does a brine work? Well I'm glad you asked. Now once you have your meat soaking in the brine are few things take place. When you place meat in a brine that has more salt than meat, liquid will flow through the cell walls in to the meat, which adds moisture. But wait, there's more! The salt also helps break down the proteins in your meat making it more tender for you! Sweet deal, two for one!
So I can brine all meat over night right? Negative, Ghost Rider. The general rule of thumb is an hour per pound of meat. However if you are doing whole chickens or turkeys, overnight would be fine. Aim for around 8-12 hours depending on weight. Or if you don't have a long while to wait for the brine, remember any time spent in the brine is better then none!
Ewwww, this is so salty! What went wrong? Yeah I know what you're thinking. Waayyy too much salt. Well, before you go and chuck that bird in the oven, or on the grill, remember to rise your meat and pat it dry. After you do that, feel free to add your oil or BBQ sauce or how ever to cook your bird/meat.