How To Brine A Chicken

The following is part of a great post by Michael Ruhlman on brining a chicken. The original can be found here;

“How to brine chicken, quick chicken brine recipe—why do we need quick? Because usually when I realize I need to brine something it’s too late to make and cool the brine, and then go through the hours of brining. I always brine chickens that I intend to fry. Always. Well, almost always, sometimes, the urge comes too fast and powerfully even to do this, but normally I have at least four hours before I need to get the chicken floured and plunked into the fat. Here’s what I do when I need to brine fast …..

But. If you want to brine more quickly, make a stronger brine. I double it to a 10% salt solution, 100 grams salt per 1000 grams/milliliters water (gosh I love metric). But there’s still a time issue: if you want to add aromatics and ensure you dissolve the salt, you’ve got to heat the brine (and water takes forever to cool; can’t wait that long).

So: When that powerful, powerful urge to have fried chicken strikes at midday, I make a 10% brine but use only half the water. I bring this, along with herbs and garlic and lemon to a simmer, let it steep for 10 minutes, then add the rest of the water as ice (another handy use for a scale, weighing frozen water). By the time the ice is dissolved, minutes, the brine is cool. I throw it all in a plastic bag and leave it at room temp for 2 to 3 hours, remove it, rinse it, and let it rest for another hour or so, to give the heavy salt concentration on the exterior time to penetrate and equalize.”