Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brined curried & roasted chicken legs and thighs

Brining chicken is the single most important thing you can do to ensure you'll get juicy flavorful chicken. I don't do it every time I'm ashamed to admit and when I do, I'm always blown away with just how juicy and how much flavor gets into the meat. The reasons not to brine are flimsy: not enough time, seems too hard, just an odd idea for the home cook, but really it couldn't be easier!

All a brine is is a super salty flavored solution. The salt in the solution draws moisture out of the protein but then through osmosis, the brine is drawn into the flesh, along with all the flavors you add to the brine. I like to add herbs, spices and aromatics to mine since those flavors actually penetrate the meat. This time I decided to add a bit of curry powder into my brine. I love the flavor of curry powder, its not over powering and really works well with chicken. 1 T worth of the yellow stuff in addition to some garlic & onion granules (they dissolve better in the brine which is why I use the granules, but fresh is fine too), a touch of brown sugar for flavor and a background sweetness along with the required salt yielded a very flavorful brine.

The chicken brined for 8 hours before I baked it. Baking was as simple as removing the pieces from the liquid, putting them into a roasting pan, pan into the oven. Set a timer for 1 hour and voila, dinner's done! The flavor of this was really delicious. The curry was mild and both the husband and I decided that our chicken tasted similar to rotisserie chickens from Sams, which is a pretty good thing if you've ever tried their rotisserie chicken. Savory is the best way I'd describe the flavor. It was not overly salty, rather just gently seasoned and juicy, bursting with flavor.

A few final notes on brining:

~~the skin (in my experience) doesn't get as crisp as non brined birds. That makes sense to me, the chicken is submerged in salty water for 8 hours so crisping up that skin is going to be hard! If crispy skin is very important to you take care to pat the chicken dry before baking it (I did not) and/or run it under the broiler before serving(this I did do).

~~You can brine boneless skinless cuts but they take a LOT less time, up to 2 hours maximum for a boneless skinless chicken breast, otherwise you run the risk of over brining which would produce a salty piece of meat. Ew.

~~Some choose to rinse their brined meat before baking, that choice is up to you. If you are sensitive to salt then please rinse. If you're like me and can't get enough of that rock then forgo it.

~~Experiment with the flavors in your brine! Fresh rosemary spears is delicious on poultry, as is sage. I've added fruit to the brine and then stuffed the bird with the fruits and let it roast, delicious!

Most importantly, give it a try!! All it takes is a little for-though to get the protein into a brine 8 hours before cooking time and a bit of imagination on what flavors you want to experience.

Brined curried chicken legs & thighs
makes 4 servings
1/4 c kosher salt
1 T brown sugar
1 T curry powder
1/2 t garlic powder, can use fresh minced garlic, 2 cloves
1/2 t onion powder, can use 1/2 fresh onion cut into chunks
4 cups boiling water
about 8 cups ice

4 pieces of bone in skin on chicken thighs
4 pieces of bone in skin on chicken legs
(can use any chicken pieces you like, breasts respond well to brining, they stay juicy and flavorful)

Mix the spices, salt, sugar and boiling water together until salt & sugar dissolve. Pour into a large bowl that can hold the brine as well as the chicken pieces and add ice. Stir to cool brine down. Not all the ice will melt, this is OK.

Add the chicken pieces. Move chicken and brine to a cold location, like the fridge, and allow to brine for 8 hours.

Transfer brined chicken pieces to a baking pan (I had to use 2) and bake at 375F for 1 hour or until internal temperature reads 180F and skin has rendered fat and browned slightly. Finish browning under hot broiler if desired.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 142.4
Total Fat 4.6 g
Saturated Fat 1.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.4 g
Cholesterol 96.4 mg
Sodium 222.3 mg
Potassium 273.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 0.0 g
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g
Sugars 0.0 g
Protein 23.8 g


Design Wine and Dine said...

Great post Andrea! I have to say I usually only brine the Thanksgiving bird but YOU ARE SO RIGHT that it's not hard to do (simple in fact) and then makes the baking in the oven a breeze!

Good advice too with the brining on the boneless, skinless cuts and not doing it nearly as long!

I don't belong to Sam's but it's funny because I have heard about their darn delicious chickens! I hear long lines form when they come out of the rotisseri!

Cranberry Morning said...

I sure like this idea SO much better than the chicken from Sams (which always gives me a headache - unless it's their canned chicken which only has chicken breast, water, and salt). I'd much rather be in control over what goes into that chicken - and this sounds delicious!

StephenC said...

My fellow bloggers, we must celebrate Andrea for her brined chicken. The amount of salt she uses is such that there is no worry about the saltiness of the final product. Hurrah, Andrea. Io ti saluto.

Michael Toa said...

The brined chicken look so delicious and I'm sure so moist from the brine. I'll be brining some chickens very soon as well and I cannot wait!

Jenn said...

I used to brine all the time...then one time I brined too much and we had saltfest pork that night... since than I just do not take the time to do it. I marinate, that's like the next best thing, right? :)
Love this post, Andrea...you explained it all perfectly! Makes me want to go brine a chicken now!!!

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

I can't believe i've never brined chicken before and you know how often im baking chicken thighs... so it's like a kind of marinade right? just makes everything more moist... can't believe this has simply past me by... must brine this weekend!

Karen Harris said...

I have a couple of friends who swear by brining their Thanksgiving turkeys. I have told myself that I am going to try it and never have for the lack of room in the fridge but with chickens I have no excuse. You've convinced me. I'm going to try it. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks for the inspiration.

Bo said...

Andrea I totally agree with you about brining...but I'm going to be honest...I hardly ever do it...Your brine with the curry powder sounds like it would infuse a ton of flavor.

Yenta Mary said...

Oh, my! That looks, sounds, practically smells amazing! So tender, so flavorful ... sigh ... :)

Megan Carroll said...

how nice, next time I am bringing.... for sure.

bellini said...

This is so much easier than brining a whole turkey. It creates such a moist bird I don't know why we don't do it everytime!

Erik Schmid said...

Just made this for our Sunday dinner, I grilled the thighs and they were moist and so good, I will be making this recipe again. Super good!

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