When one is pig-headed and opinionated about things, I always find it’s a good idea to once in a while revisit the things that one is pig-headed and/or opinionated about.  It can either validate the opinion or – in rare cases – actually change a mind.

Yes…  as opinionated and pig-headed as I am, I do – occasionally – change my mind on things.

I’m pleased to report, however, that brining is not one of the things I’m going to change my mind about, tonight.

In my not-so-humble opinion, brining, at least on a commercial level, has always been about putting flavor where factory-farming has taken it away.  Pick up a package of name-brand chicken breasts and notice the “May contain up to 14% (or 15% or 22%) solution” label.  It’s usually in pretty small print somewhere.  They’ve bred the natural flavor out so now they have to add flavor to make it palatable.  But even more than reintroducing flavor, brining changes the texture of the product.  It breaks it down.  Where most people say “moist”  I say “mushy.”

It’s totally a texture thing.

So…  last night, I decided I needed to revisit my pig-headed opinionatedness.

I had a lovely 4 1/2 pound organic chicken that I decided to experiment with.  These are great birds on their own and I know the flavor profile perfectly.  I had my base line.

Not being a brining expert, I went to Epicurious to see what was up.

I came upon every type of brine imaginable, from basic salt and water to way-over-the-top flavorings.  Armed with a little bit of knowledge, I made up my own:

Brine for Chicken

  • 6 qts water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp rubbed sage
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp onion seeds

Bring two cups water to a boil, add salt, sugar,a nd spices, and mix until sugar and salt have dissolved.  Add remaining water mixed with ice cubes to chill. Pour over chicken making sure it is completely submerged.  Brine 8 – 24 hours.

Into the ‘fridge it went.

This afternoon, I pulled it out of the brine, rinsed it, dried it,, and got it ready for the grill.

It seems most brined chicken recipes call for the bird to be grilled, so…  when in Rome…

I had preheated the grill and then turned off the middle burners and kept the end burners on high, setting the bird right in the middle.

About an hour and half later, I had a pretty good looking bird.

I must admit that the flavor was really, really good.  The sage really came though albeit in a very subtle way.  There – but not overpowering or overly-pronounced.  Crispy skin for Victor (I’m not much of a skin fan.)

And yes, it was moist and juicy.

Victor’s first bite was “It’s really moist!”  His second bite was “Yeah.  I see what you mean about the texture.”  It’s just too soft.  There’s no ‘chew.’   It just lacks the proper consistency.  The flavor is definitely there, the texture ruins it for me.

And this is one where I know I’m in the minority.

Type in “brining” in Google and every celebrity chef and wannabe restaurateur has a recipe for brining something.  More power to them all.  I could almost see it if one wanted to really infuse something with a specific flavor, but I’d rather have the natural flavor and add a sauce.  And it’s easier and less time-consuming!

My pig-headed opinionatedness concerning brining is something I don’t have to revisit for a while.