Smoked Chicken Brine

Using a smoked chicken brine before cooking your bird will pay big dividends in flavor and texture. The salt enhances the flavor of the chicken, and it causes the meat fibers to hold on to moisture more tightly.

Most brines contain salt and sugar. The salt actually changes the structure of the protein strands, and that's what helps trap moisture. As the chicken brines, some of the sugar is absorbed into the meat. Sugar attracts moisture, which helps even more. Taste from seasonings added to the brine are also absorbed into chicken, translating into more great flavor!

Making Chicken Brine

To make brine, salt, sugar and seasonings are added to water. The brine is better if it's boiled until the sugar and salt are totally dissolved. When completely dissolved, the salt and sugar will do their thing to the chicken more effectively. Try this basic chicken brine recipe:

  • One gallon water
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Bring one-half gallon of the water to a boil. Add the salt and sugar, stirring until dissolved. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow it to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until it reaches 40°F or below. Brine your chicken at that temperature for 2 to 4 hours. Larger, thicker pieces, and skin-on pieces need to brine longer.

Remove the chicken from the brine, placing it on a rack to air dry for at least an hour. The smoke will adhere to the chicken better if the surface is fairly dry.

Add herbs, spices and other flavoring to the brine to give your chicken more taste. Substitute fruit juice, wine or beer for some of the water. Smoked chicken brine recipes can be adjusted to flavor chicken just the way you like it.

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