June is upon us and grilling season has started. Time to fire up the charcoal and soak some thighs in this simple chicken brine. You’ll be amazed at how flavorful, tender, and juicy this chicken becomes.
You have probably read or heard that brining is good for chicken. What brining does, is add moisture to the meat and, along with the salt, the water is absorbed into the flesh. Well, what you can do is take this principle and add to it some additional seasonings that takes the brine to a whole new level. And, as Guy Fieri would say, “straight to Flavortown.”
For this flavoring, we used my traditional Italian style seasonings: garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, and fennel. These ingredients get put into a small saucepan along with water, salt, and sugar, and get boiled and made into an herbal tea of sorts. All the great flavors in the seasonings are infused into the water and as the chicken soaks, all this goodness gets absorbed. It becomes a pot of flavor goodness.
First off though, make sure that the chicken you are using has not already been injected with saline. If it has been, there will be a statement on the label which indicates this. You want to start out with unprocessed or organic chicken. Brining a saline injected chicken will result in too salty chicken.
How Long Do You Brine Chicken?
These tasty chicken thighs were brined for 3 hours. If you’re brining skinless, boneless breasts, 1 to 2 hours is adequate. Skin on, bone in chicken, 2 to 3 hours. A whole chicken should be brined 3 to 4 hours. Any longer than this, the chicken will get too salty. Use the time you have…it all adds up to added flavor!
A brine is unlike a marinade. Some thicker steaks are left in the refrigerator to marinate overnight, using an acid based marinade. If you leave meat in a brine overnight it will…#1. get too salty and, #2. the watery brine will actually start to pull out some of the natural flavorings of the meat. You don’t want that.
These thighs were put into a gallon ziplock bag with the brine, placed in a suitable sized bowl, and refrigerated for 3 hours. To prep them for the grill, remove from the brine and pat dry. Very lightly oil the skin with olive oil, then grill, skin side down 7 or 8 minutes to get a nice char. Turn and let cook 10 or 12 more minutes until the internal temperature is around 160°F. Let the chicken rest for 5 or 10 minutes, then serve it. The chicken brine will have done it’s work!
The flavor of the herbs in the meat is amazing. MaryJo even mentioned that this was the tastiest chicken I have ever made. Simple chicken brine…that’s good enough for me.
Simple Chicken Brine For Grilling
- 2 cups water
- 1/8 cup Morton coarse Kosher salt, (approx. 35 grams)
- 2 cloves garlic, coarse chopped
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp sugar
- Place all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the salt. Reduce to heat to a low boil for 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and let cool. I placed the saucepan into an ice bath prepared in a skillet. In 10 minutes the temperature of the brine was less than 100°.
- Place the chicken pieces into a covered bowl or ziplock type bag and cover with the brine.
- Refrigerate 1 to 4 hours depending on your chicken. 1 to 2 hours for boneless, skinless cuts. 2 to 3 hours for skin on, bone in cuts. 3 to 4 hours for a whole chicken.
- Remove the chicken from the brine, pat dry and lightly oil. A bit of pepper may be added at this time if desired.
- Grill the chicken until the internal temperature is around 160°F.
- To brine a whole chicken, you may need to double the recipe to fully immerse the chicken.
- Make sure that the chicken you are using has not been injected with saline already.
Try these other tasty chicken recipes