Kitchen Secrets: How Long to Brine Chicken Breasts?
Consider The Best Brining Period For Your Meat
Brine is a saltwater solution used to enhance flavor and provide more moisture and flavor to the meat. If you’re about to serve a roasted chicken for dinner, you will wonder: how long to brine chicken breast?
Experts agree that chicken breasts should be brined for 30 minutes to one hour before cooking. The length of the brining time can vary according to the type of meat and its thickness.
According to Meathead in an article in Huffington Post, half of an inch of meat should be brined for half an hour; one inch of meat to be brined for one hour and two inches of meat should be brined for three hours.
Generally speaking, the thicker the slice of meat, the more time it requires for brining. Brines don’t work like marinades, so don’t brine overnight. Doing so will only make your meat taste overly salty.
But this is just a generic guide for brining time. Chicken, in particular, gets easily dry when overcooked.
- Brining it for 30 minutes to one hour will allow the chicken to absorb the brine solution and provide the meat more moisture, so the moist remains and it stays juicy even if you overcook it a little.
- Apart from the thickness of the cut, it’s also important to consider the type of meat to be brined. As a general rule, meat should be brined according to the following time frame:
- Whole chicken and chicken pieces: 30 minutes to 1 hour
- Pork chops and tenderloins: 30 minutes to 1 hour
- Whole turkey: 6-12 hours
- Whole pork loin: 3 hours
Know How Brine Works
Understanding how brining works will help you maximize the juiciness and flavors in your recipes. The science behind brining can aptly be described through the word “osmosis.”
Simply put, osmosis while brining refers to the event wherein the salty water solution is absorbed by the meat while the remaining moisture from the meat itself is displaced, giving way for the brine to make its way around the meat’s muscles.
This explains why the brined meat becomes tender, juicy and flavorful, while the remaining brine liquid has lost most of its salt.
With that knowledge in mind, it’s important to note that osmosis works well if the meat is thoroughly submerged into the brining solution. A lot of home cooks swear by putting the brining solution into a ziplock bag and then add the chicken breasts.
Place the packed chicken in the brine into a reasonably-sized container and place into the fridge. Let the brine do its magic for 30-minutes to 1 hour before taking it out of the refrigerator.
You may opt to rinse the brined chicken or dry it with a kitchen towel to remove the extra salt from the skin. After that, you can immediately cook, grill or roast the brined chicken.
Picking A Suitable Brining Solution
A traditional brine solution is composed of three basic ingredients: salt, water, and sugar. Simply dissolve ¾ cups each of salt and sugar into a gallon of water.
Add in the chicken, making sure it’s completely submerged into the solution and refrigerate for no more than one hour before cooking. This very basic recipe will already impart excellent flavors and moisture to the chicken.
But you can go beyond this basic brine solution and use other recipes. You could use apple juice, tea water, beer, wine and dried herbs like oregano, thyme, and basil into your brine. You might also want to consider using the same herbs that you will use in your dish to further complement the flavors.
However, note that different brine ingredients will produce different taste and flavors to your recipe.
Discard Brine Remnants
Probably, one of the most overlooked practices in brining is discarding the rest of the used brine solution. Some people believe that this could make a good base for gravy or baste.
However, reusing the rest of the brine solution can be very risky to your health. The brine solution has had blood and other unwanted objects floating, making it the perfect environment to breed bacteria. Throw the brine remnants away and make gravies from scratch to just be on the safe side.
Brining is an easy and quick way to provide your meat recipes, chicken or otherwise, excellent flavors and juiciness. But remember to brine within the recommended period of time, or your recipe will turn out too salty for your taste.
Salt will always be a staple ingredient in a brine solution, but you can bring out more flavors in it by exploring other ingredients.
Lastly, remember that getting the perfect brine recipe takes some trial and error, so keep brining until your dishes turn out as tasty as you want them to be.