Serving Size : 1 chicken Preparation Time up to 2 days
Categories : BBQ, Chicken
1 cup table salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup aromatics
16 cups water
Place all the ingredients in a big cooking pot and bring it all to a slow boil, ensuring the sugar and salt are fully dissolved. Leave the brine to completely cool to less than 20c. This is a good time to go do your shopping, don't forget to get a chicken.
The sort of chicken you want is around 1.2kg (don't worry about it if it's a bit bigger up to 1.8kg say). It'll come from the FRESH chicken counter of your supermarket and it'll cost no more than £3.00. When you get home you need to wash your chicken inside and out in clean running water, then you need to submerge your chicken in the (now cool) brine. If I won't fit whole then either spatchcock it or cut it into portions, to my mind spatchcock is the best method, with the right sized pot you can brine a couple of chickens at the same time.
Put the whole thing in you 'fridge for 8 hours, he'll be ready for an early evening BBQ that day
When it comes to cooking the chicken, do so as you normally would- But see the following notes for more information.
I have purposely chosen cheap super market ingredients, to my mind (and taste buds) you don't have to use expensive salt- If anything table salt works better, you could substitute 50% sea salt if you wish. I think the best is pure rock salt, if you can get it cheaply enough.
The sugar is actually optional, or you could use slightly less or slightly more. No more than a full cup though, the chicken will tend to taste like supermarket pre sliced ham otherwise. Of course if you like supermarket ham then you know what to do. In a word the sugar is up to you, I tend to use half a cup (and yes I know that's more than one word).
The aromatics are up to you (have you noticed a trend here). Don't use acidic ingredients like vinegar, or if you do use them with caution, they tend to make the texture of the meat 'mushy'. That's not saying they don't work, just be careful. My suggestion would be a small chopped onion, couple of smashed cloves of garlic, herbs, spices and black peppercorns.
The length of time the chicken sits in the brine is variable (I didn't dare say 'up to you'), but I'd say 8 hours is the minimum, 12 hours is fine, and after that the texture notably changes. Saying that I've left the chicken in the brine for 24 hours and still found it tasty, after 48 hours you are going to have to cook it or eat it- unless you like supermarket ham. I've never brined longer than that- But by the third day 'food safety' would become an issue.
You can roast or grill the chicken as you see fit. One of the benefits of brining is that the chicken cooks quicker, but it also can be left to cook longer. This can really take the guess work out of barbecuing chicken over hot coals, and I've cooked a whole chicken in the oven at 200c in less than an hour before now.
So there you go, a long post I know, but hopefully it might convince you to have a go at a brined chicken. All feedback gratefully accepted.
Contributed by: Jason Cambell
Back to Index