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Beyond the Basics: Wet vs Dry Brine

Posted On: November 11, 2015

We’ve explored the basics of brining in past blog posts, but today we’re here to delve deep into the wonderful world of brining your poultry. Get your chicken thinking cap on, it’s time to LEARN!

Simply put, brining is submerging your cut of meat in a brine solution. Typically, a brine solution consists of salt and sugar dissolved in water -it can be as complex or simple as you want it to be. This is your world, the chicken is just roasting in it!

What is a Wet Brine?

When we think of brining, this is usually the first type of brine that comes to mind. You’ll want to use a pot large enough to submerge an entire turkey or whole chicken. The liquid base you’ll be working with is water, kosher salt and sugar. Feel free to add your choice of herbs, spices and vegetables- we like lemon, rosemary and onions.

First, you’ll bring the liquid to a boil, as it will bring together the flavors from your chosen spices and aromatics. After your sugar and salt has dissolved you’ll need to wait to add your poultry to the pot. Please adhere to this rule – adding a chicken to lukewarm liquids is a big NO in terms of food safety.

You can leave your chicken in the wet brine for up to two days, but the liquid will need at least 12 hours to work its magic.

What is a Dry Brine?

The key to dry brining is preparing. You’ll want to complete your dry brine 1-3 days before serving your bird. Use a teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of chicken. Some mix a tsp of baking soda with the salt, but this is entirely up to your preferences. Pay your chicken dry and sprinkle with the salt mixture. Let the mixture sink in, you’ll want it well coated but not completely covered. Think along the lines of a very generous seasoning, you don’t want to completely pack it on. According to J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats, “dry-brining for more than 24 hours will produce even more juicy and well-seasoned meat. To brine longer than 24 hours, loosely cover turkey with plastic wrap or cheesecloth before refrigerating to prevent excess moisture loss through evaporation. Let rest for up to 3 days.”

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