(?servings, intermediate ingredient)
This is a time tested way of turning an otherwise hard and dry chicken breast into succulent tasty chicken. All you need is salt, sugar, water and time. While brining is normally used to prepare chicken or turkey for roasting, I will use dry poaching as the method of cooking in this recipe. I usually use this poached chicken in chicken potato salad, as a meat supplement to caesar’s salad, or as a sliced chicken appetizer with the appropriate sauce.
- Large skinless chicken breast (1-1.5)
- Brown sugar
- Sesame oil
- Quart sized ziploc bag (2)
- Fill a large glass (salad bowl) or ceramic container (soup tureen) with 4 cups of room temperature water. Add 4T of salt and 4t of soft brown sugar. Stir to ensure everything melts.
- Your chicken breast should come skinless, in halves. For the avoidance of doubt, the picture shows one chicken breast, with one half sliced. If you are using the smaller variety, you should use 3 halves.
- Place the chicken in the brine, making sure the pieces are completely submerged. If you are using a container with a flat bottom, you will probably need additional brine, adjust accordingly. Cover with a plate or clear wrap. If it is a hot summer day you should consider keeping the chicken in the fridge during the brining, or adding a few cubes of ice every 2 hours.
- After 8 hours discard the brine and rinse the chicken thoroughly in water. If you are not cooking the chicken immediately, place it in the fridge.
- A few hours ahead of time, mix 1T of rosemarry, 1t of coriander seed powder with 5T of sesame oil. Leave this to sit.
- Marinate the brined chicken breasts in the rosemary-sesame oil while you boil a Large pot of water. Rosmary is a woody herb and you may want to strain out the rosemary depending on how you plan to use the chicken later.
- When the water is boiling, put each half breast of chicken into an individual quart sized zip loc bag. Spoon any left over oil into the bags as well. Squeeze out all the air and seal.
- Put the bags in the boiling water. Cover and boil for 5 minutes. Leave in the pot, without opening the lid, for a further 20 minutes (less time if your chicken breasts are small, more time if your pot is not large enough).
- When you finally remove the chicken from the bags, you should notice that the meat has a slight pinkish hue. This is normal, the chicken is not undercooked.
- There will be a small quantity of concentrated chicken stock left in each bag from the brine that was in the chicken. Reserve this and drench the chicken in it after you have sliced/diced it. You can also use this stock for making a sauce.
- Brining depends on the scientific phenomenon known as osmosis where dissolved substances in two liquids separated by a membrane will want to equalize concentrations. Salt ions are very small and they will travel into the chicken through the cell membranes. However, the molecules of other substances dissolved in the chicken are too big to escape into the brine and water is drawn into the chicken to equalize concentrations instead. The result is that both salt and water are drawn into the chicken, plumping it up and making it juicy.
- Sometimes people prefer to brine their Chicken for longer. You can double the brining time to 16 hours; The 16 hour brined chicken is noticeably more tender than the 8 hour version but the resulting chicken will taste salty and any further marinade or seasoning should not contain anything salty. At 24 hours you will get chicken that is as salty as bacon.
- Feel free to experiment with all kinds of additional things in your brine, like liquid smoke, apple slices, honey etc. Do not use any powdery substance that is insoluble like coriander seed or cinnamon, these will clump onto certain areas of the chicken.
- You can of course choose to roast your chicken breast instead of poaching it, the brining procedure is the same.
- I also have a chicken avocado salad recipe that goes perfectly with this brining cum poaching recipe.