Monday, November 19, 2007


Brining a chicken or turkey for 1 to 3 days before grilling (or roasting) will result in the juiciest bird you’ve ever had. Do not worry about the amount of salt in the brine - the meat will not be salty, nor will you have a "high sodium" recipe. Likewise with the sugar: you don't end up with a sweet bird. Instead, the salt and sugar merely act to create an osmosis process that helps the flavor ingredients (e.g., the lemons and any herbs or spices) penetrate into the bird, together with some water to preserve moistness when you slow-cook the chicken or turkey. The key is to make sure the entire bird is submerged in the brining solution - and of course you need to keep the raw bird refrigerated. Here at Carolina Sauce Company, we like to use a cooler with zip-top plastic bags full of ice (because you don't want to dilute the brine with melting ice) as the container in which to brine a whole turkey or a few chickens. For parts or smaller birds, you can place the brine and the bird in a large zip top bag and store it in your refrigerator. Here are a couple of brines to try this Thanksgiving. You can multiply the ingredients to make as much brining solution as you need - just keep the proportions the same.

Basic Brine:
1 Gallon Water
1 Cup Kosher Salt
1 Cup Sugar
Juice and pulp of 3 lemons (you can substitute oranges for 1 or more of the lemons)
1/4 cup seasoned pepper

The Hound's Brine:
1 gallon water
1 cup Kosher salt or 1/2 cup table salt
Juice of 3 oranges
Juice of three limes
Juice of three lemons
Rinds from the oranges, limes and lemons
1 sliced white onion
1 head of garlic, crushed
Stems from a bunch of cilantro, chopped
Fresh serrano peppers to taste (at least 4)
rough ground cumin and coriander 2 Tbsp each
1/4 cup chili powder or any ground chile you prefer
Optional: 1/4 cup onion powder
Optional: 1/4 cup garlic powder

Directions for Either Brine:
Prepare the brine by either boiling everything together, or stirring vigorously to dissolve the salt and sugar into the solution. Place chicken or turkey in the brine in a zip top bag (or a cooler, adding zip-top bags full of ice to keep the bird at a safe cold temperature). If brining in a bag instead of a cooler, store the bag in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. If preparing a large batch in a cooler, check periodically to see if you need to switch out the ice baggies as they melt. When ready to cook, rinse off the bird to remove surface salt - do NOT soak or you'll pull out all the flavors the brine brought into the bird. If you want crispy skin, pat the bird dry with paper towels and let dry for a few hours in the refrigerator before cooking. Throw out the brine - never re-use!

Zestfully yours,

PS: You can still make a donation to Operation Sauce Drop and qualify for a pair of Carolina Hurricanes tickets at center ice for the Nov 21 or Nov 23 home games. More info in last week's posts....

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