Homemade Fried Chicken…it’s not as scary as it sounds! (Part One-Brining)

I know everyone likes to think that frying your own chicken at home is some incredibly daunting task only to be performed by the most amazing cooks…but it’s not. I admit it can be a litle scary wondering if you’ve cooked your chicken thoroughly by the time the crust is golden brown, but if you follow a few easy steps, you too can be a master of homemade fried chicken that looks as lovely as this:
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The first step for making fried chicken that is juicy and flavorful begins with the brine. A couple of hours of brining will allow your chicken to remain moist despite the extreme temperatures of frying and will allow the chicken to cook more quickly as well.

Brine Recipe:
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Dry Brine Ingredients:
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It should also be noted that the salt to water ratio needs to remain the same, but everything else can be added, deleted, or substituted as they are just for imparting flavor to the chiken while brining.

Combine ingredients for the brine in a large pot/bucket/ice chest. You will also need ice packs to keep the brine at a safe temperature for a couple of hours during the brining process. Place your rinsed chicken pieces (I buy whole cut-up chickens for this dinner. They should weigh around 6 lbs and have the bone-in.)

The chicken pieces will likely want to float somewhat and look something like this:
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This is where you use ice packs (or another food-safe heavy item) to push the chicken pieces below the surface. It might look something like this:
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Now put your brining chicken in the fridge or add ice if you haven’t used ice packs. It’s super important to keep your chicken at a safe cool temperature for the next 2 hours.

Another note, once the chicken has finished brining, dump the brine. Do NOT reuse it. And be careful to wash everything that has touched the chicken or brine very well. Raw poultry can harbor food-borne illnesses, so it’s very important to properly cleanse anything that has come in contact with it.

Many people want to know if they can skip the brining part and the official answer is yes, you can. But once you’ve had brined chicken and un-brined chicken, you’ll never want to skip this step again, it’s absolutely worth the effort.

Now on to part two-the actual frying of the chicken.

Published in: on September 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm  Comments (2)  
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Brining Up a Storm!

I have recently rediscovered my love for all things brined. Seriously, it is the ONLY thing that I’ve found that majorly improves moistness, flavor, and tenderness of poultry like turkey and chicken. I’ve tried just about every method under the sun for keeping a turkey moist, but NOTHING compares to a good brine and a slow roast.

The amazing thing about a brine is that you can make the brine just about any way you want to and as long as your salt and water proportions are correct, it will turn out perfectly every time.
Recently, I’ve found my own little recipe that I love to use with turkey especially.

The basic recipe for any brine starts with 4 Tablespoons of salt to one Tablespoon of sugar, dissolved in one quart of liquid, adjust the recipe to provide enough brine to cover your meat completely in whatever container you choose to brine in. From there the possibilities are endless. You can use water, soda pop, juice, vegetable broth (low sodium or homemade), or any combination of these as your liquid, and you can use just about any kind of sugar except for confectioner’s sugar as your sweetness, including honey! Your salt can be just about any kind, including pickling spices if that’s your thing.

Then you can add whatever aromatics your little heart desires. I’ve found that the old Scarborough Fair song provides a great recipe for brining (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme), and for my brine I usually use a mixture of half water and half apple juice for an added sweetness and tang. You can add pepper or any other spice that sounds pleasing to you, and I’ve found proportions don’t seem to matter in this area as much as if you were actually putting the spices directly on the meat.

How long you brine your meat will depend on how large the piece of meat that you are brining is. We like a heavy brine, so I usually throw everything from a large turkey breast to a whole chicken to a whole turkey in for overnight, but most people would only do the smaller cuts of meat for 2-4 hours. It’s entirely up to you. If you are brining for just a short period of time, then you may want to bring your brine to a boil then cool it back down to room temperature before putting your meat into it b/c you’ll get more intense flavor that way in a shorter period of time. Me? I like to fix it and forget it till morning.

The only real downfall with brining is that you can only use it once, then you must throw the brine away b/c after all, raw poultry did touch it, and you don’t want that kind of bacteria hanging out in your kitchen for long! Do remember also to keep a closer eye on your meat when cooking a brined piece of poultry or pork, b/c I’ve found that a brined turkey will cook in half the time it would’ve normally taken! Definately an advantage, but until you get the hang of cooking brined meat, you might want to watch that you don’t burn it.

Now that I’ve said my piece about brining, tell me that this turkey breast that I brined then baked at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half doesn’t look like something out of a magazine…and trust me, it tasted more amazing than it looked!
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