Brining was initially done for preservation purposes before refrigerators were a thing. However, right now, there are two reasons why it is still done. For texture and flavor.
We don’t know about you, but dry, tasteless chicken is a struggle that can be avoided if people learned how to brine. The process infuses the meat with delicious savory flavors, all while making it super tender.
So how does brining work? It is like many other processes, simply a scientific process. You place the meat in a flavorful liquid made up of a salt bath, and the meat is dipped in it.
Through osmosis, the meat takes in the water and gets juicier even before it is cooked. Today we will focus on all you need to know when brining bird meat.
To get a scientific and help you understand what exactly happens, the bird meat gains salt, and the higher its salt concentration is, the faster it will begin to break down the proteins. Bird meat is a good candidate for this because it is drier and leaner.
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What Is The Difference Between Dry And Wet Brine?
The difference is that the wet brine is a bath of salt-infused water that saturates the meat while the dry brine draws the meat’s natural moisture out of it then the salt mixes with the meat’s juices where it is reabsorbed in the meat. You may decide to add other flavoring ingredients, but an essential ingredient there any day is the salt.
Difference between marinade and brine
Brining, as we saw above, is for adding juiciness to dry meat and keeping that way by using salt. The marinade, on the other hand, is primarily or flavoring purposes only. They feature an acidic component to them that is also alleged to tenderize meat.
How To Brine Turkey Meat
Put merely, brining is the process of meat soaking in a saltwater solution before cooking it. Turkey in itself is not the most flavorful meat and tends to dry out when cooked, so brining is the way to go if you want to enjoy that finger-licking thanksgiving turkey.
Fortunately, you can be able to purchase a turkey brining kit that contains the brining mix that is already made for brining 12-15 lb of meat covered in 2 gallons of water, one roasting bag, and a brining bag. If you want to do this for yourself, all you need to brine your turkey is:
- A large Ziploc bag to hold the turkey in the brine.
- Brown sugar to add sweetness to the turkey
- Kosher salt to tenderize and add flavor to the meat
- Stock pan for preparing the brine.
Brining a turkey in the bag
The first thing you need to do is prepare the brine.
- Place the sugar, kosher salt, herbs, vegetable in a large stock pan.
- Cover with the water and bring it to a boil. Make sure to reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes to let the salt and sugar dissolve.
- Strain the brine mixture and let it cool before storing git in the fridge.
- Thaw your turkey prior if you had it frozen or even better, use a fresh turkey. Place your turkey in the large Ziploc bag, pour the brining liquid over the turkey, and cover it entirely with the liquid. Seal the bag securely and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the turkey the next day from the brine and rinse and proceed to cook the turkey in your desired way.
Should you rinse the turkey before cooking?
Rinsing the turkey after brining helps to control the saltiness of the brine. In recent years it is said that doing this contaminates your kitchen with bacteria, especially when you do that near your other food and dishes. To avoid contamination when rinsing the meat, make sure you:
- Prepare the meat last.
- Make sure there are no dishes around
- Clear the counter
- Clean up the sink after you are done
- Wash your hands after handling raw meat
Other Turkey Brine Recipes
There are many turkey brine recipes to choose from, so read on!
Brining with buttermilk
The buttermilk helps tenderize the turkey, and the salt, of course, adds flavor in the brine.
- One ½l water
- 1 tbsp crushed black peppercorns
- 4 tbsp salt
- 4l buttermilk
- Pour the cold water in a clean, sterilized plastic container and add the salt and sugar. Place the turkey in the container breast side down then pour over the buttermilk making sure the turkey is submerged. Add the peppercorns and place the turkey in the refrigerator to brine overnight.
Brown sugar turkey brine
- One turkey rinsed
- 2 ½ cups of salt
- 1 ½
- A of gallon ice water
- 1-gallon water
- ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp peppercorns
- In a large pot over high heat, add the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, and the 1 gallon of water and bring them to a boil. Make sure to stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from the heat and transfer in a bowl to cool. Add ½ gallon of ice water in it after it cools.
- Put the turkey in a brining bag or a Ziploc bag. Then pour the brine till the turkey is fully covered with the brine and seal it securely. Refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours then remove it for cooking.
The sugar is only there for flavoring, and it aids in browning the turkey.
Honey Turkey Brine/ Cider Turkey brine
- ½ cup of salt
- One bone-in turkey
- A cup of honey
- One fresh rosemary sprig
- One large Ziploc bag
- 1-1 ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 quarts apple cider vinegar
- Place the salt, honey, rosemary in the dutch oven, and the cups of cider. Bring them to a boil stirring until the salt is dissolved. Remove and let it cool.
- Place the turkey in the Ziploc bag and add the brine. Seal it and turn to cover the turkey with the brine. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
Brining turkey breast
Mix up your favorite flavorings any way you prefer. You could use rosemary, garlic, onion, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Thyme and sage are good too.
Stir salt and sugar in water that is of room temperature until it dissolves then add the flavorings. Place the turkey in the brine and let it soak for a few hours, then remove and rinse. Put in the refrigerator for a whole day.
Turkey brine with oranges
The oranges act like sugar in the other recipes and add that sweet flavor. Like the other recipes above, toast your spices in a saucepan and heat over medium heat for about 60 seconds. Add salt and sugar, followed by water.
Increase the heat now to help to dissolve them. Remove from heat then add the orange juice. Place the turkey breast side down in the brining/ Ziploc bag and then add the brine and cold water. Slice up 2-3 oranges and put them inside too. Seal properly and let it brine for 24 hours.
It is the same case when it comes to brining chicken. It tenderizes and adds flavor to your chicken. Brining helps add that flavor despite how you want yo cook your chicken. You could rine and refrigerate and decide to smoke and grill and get as much taste from both since you brined first.
Brining chicken breast for grilling
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Seven boneless chicken breasts
- ¼ cup of salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1.2 tsp black pepper
- Mix the salt in a large bowl with 1 quart of warm water, then immerse the chicken in the salt mixture for about 20 minutes, then rinse.
- Heat the grill to medium-high heat as you pat dry the chicken with paper towels. Put them on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle the spices on top by mixing the black pepper and smoked paprika in a bowl then brush both sides of the chicken with olive oil and the spices.
- Grill them for 5 minutes, and be sure to flip to cook both sides.
You could still use the same procedure for smoking, but you could do the dry brine way by rubbing it half a teaspoon of salt and dry seasoning of your choice after you have ground them together. Rub it on the meat, place it in a ziplock bag for almost two days, and then smoke it afterward.
Brining boneless skinless chicken breasts is the only time you will get away with brining for 1 hour at room temperature. If it brines for long, the chicken gets too salty.
Brine chicken drumsticks/legs
Drumsticks are one of people’s favorite parts of the chicken. Brined chicken drumsticks are est roasted after and good thing they will remain juicy and moist. Keep the chicken skin on as a form of protection against heat transfer in the oven.
- 4 cups of water
- Eight chicken drumsticks
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp salt
- Place a large pot over heat and add water, salt, and sugar. Stir until everything is dissolved, then remove it from the heat and wait for it to cool.
- Put the drumsticks in a ziplock bag, then add the brine and let that rest in the refrigerator for the whole day before roasting them.
Brining chicken wings
Many people do not think it is necessary to brine chicken wings, but it can be a delicacy if done right. It results in juicier, flavorful wings. All you need is salt, water, sugar, and other spices like thyme, pepper, which only add the flavor.
The sugar adds flavor, and if it is brown sugar, it caramelizes and browns the chicken. Unlike drumsticks, chicken wings, when brined, can last up to 48 hours before being cooked and will still taste perfect though that is the threshold.
Cornish hen brine
- 1-gallon water
- 1 cup of water
- One sliced onion
- Fresh thyme leaves
- Two cornish hens
- Two large cloves of garlic minced
- ½ tsp pepper
- Balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra virgin oil
- Start with the brine by pouring water and salt in the pan until it dissolves. Take off the heat and let cool. About 4 hours before serving, remove the wrapping from the cavity of the birds with kitchen shears. Cut along one side of each bird’s backbone and up through the breasts to make four halves.
- Place the halves in the salt mixture and let them submerge and refrigerate for two hours.
- Take them out and spread your onions on the bottom of your baking dish. Pat the meat dry then put them over the onions. Let that sit for 45 minutes to room temperature.
- In another bowl, combine the seasonings in olive oil and whisk then set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then brush the olive oil mixture on the meat then bake. Keep basting and baking at 15-minute intervals until the thickest parts of the meat reach 180 degrees.
- Serve and enjoy!
Brining duck will make it exceptionally tender and moist with crackling crispy skin.
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp salt
- One bottle apple cider vinegar
- One whole duck, giblets and neck removed
- Combine the salt, sugar and the 3 cups of water and boil till it dissolves then remove from the heat. Let it rest for 20 minutes then add the cider vinegar.
- Get a large bowl and put the dark. Pour the brine on it and cover it. Refrigerate for 12 hours, turning the duck regularly.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and coat your baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pat dry the meat with paper towels, place it breast side up on the rack, and roast it in the oven for 2 hours. Turn the duck over during the last 40 minutes making sure they brown on all sides.
- Place the now cooked duck breast side up on a platter and tent loosely with foil. Carve after 15 minutes, then remove skin and serve.