Chicken brine will bring out flavors and juiciness to the meat. 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 take 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.
(I recently saw a recipe from a blog that I follow for “Poultry Seasoning.” It is a more traditional blend of Thanksgiving-flavored spices and thought that it would be something to try rather than the Italian blend that I use.
I would make the full seasoning recipe, and then use 2 tablespoons of salt and 3 tablespoons of seasoning to 2 cups of water. I’ll be trying this the next time that I’m grilling chicken).
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.
Use Unprocessed Chicken
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 that 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 for 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 meats are left in the refrigerator to marinate overnight, using an acid-based or oil-based marinade. This gives the meat lots of flavor.
If you leave the 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.
Brining chicken adds moisture and flavor to ensure a tender and tasty piece of chicken.
These thighs were put into a gallon ziplock bag with the brine, placed in a suitably sized bowl, and refrigerated for 3 hours.
Getting The Chicken Ready To Grill
To prep them for the grill, remove them from the brine and pat dry. You can leave on any bits of herbs that stick to the chicken when you take it out of the brine.
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 its work!
Side Dish Ideas For Grilled Chicken
First of all would be a nice green salad.
Next would be a starch of some kind.
- Pan-fried potatoes and onions
- Sauteed shredded sweet potatoes
- Au gratin potatoes
- Roasted red potatoes with onions
- Picnic Potato Salad
Then a vegetable side dish.
- Green beans with bacon and onions
- Roasted cruciferous vegetables
- Parmesan roasted Brussels sprouts
- Insanely good vegetable side dishes
The flavor of the herbs in the meat is amazing. MaryJo even mentioned that this was the tastiest chicken I had 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 the 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 different spices to change up the flavor, especially the Poultry Seasoning as mentioned in the blog narrative.