Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Brined Chicken

If you're not brining chicken before baking your bird you seriously need to get on board with brine. Think of it as a way to make the most tender chicken you've ever had the opportunity to wrap your lips around. The method works for any cut of chicken - legs, thighs, breasts - bone-in or boneless. The amount of soaking is based on your degree of organizational skills on any given day because who can plan chicken soaking for 3 hours before a semi-peaceful supper appears - right?!?! timeframe. The minimum time span that the bird needs to bathe would be about 3 hours and the maximum 24 hours. The brine is made up of water, salt, chile peppers, and a cinnamon stick. After the chicken takes a bath in the salty, spicy, cinnamon bowl you pat dry the chicken and it hits the pan or the oven or the grill. I haven't tried grilling my brined chicken yet, but that is surely next because I have this hunch it's going to be fab. I have had success with the baking method that I detail in this particular recipe and seriously guys - there are Never. Any. Leftovers. 

The chile peppers I used didn't add much flavor effect to the brine because they are probably 8 years old (did I just confess to my (dis)ability to throw anything away?) and you see above that I used about 9 small peppers. For your brine, make sure to base the amount of spice you want in the final product around the freshness of pepper you planning to use. Are you using brand new, fresh from the grocery store dried peppers? Then use just one pepper because they are going to be spicy. Are you unphased by expiration dates and just throw in any old, dried-up pepper? Use a couple. Either way, the spice that your pepper is adding to the brine is going to be very slight and even the pickiest of eaters will approve because the spice is nearly undetected. You can also get creative with the breading. Are you gluten free? Try a nut flour. Do you want to add in some hidden nutrition? Add in nutritional yeast or ground flax and chia seeds. Get creative. Have fun. Feed your family. It's love. 

How do you hide nutrition in your cooking?

Printable Recipe Here

Brined Chicken
recipe adapted from Nourished Kitchen

8 cups water
3 tablespoons fine sea salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 to 4 dried chile pepper(s), adjust according to personal spice tolerance
1 cinnamon stick
2 pounds chicken pieces

1 cup all-purpose flour, can substitute nut flour for GF
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

In a large bowl, combine water, sea salt, honey, chile pepper(s), and cinnamon stick with a quick stir. Place chicken pieces in the bowl and refrigerate for 3-24 hours, depending on how organized you are today. Once chicken is done brining, remove chicken from bowl and pat dry. Discard brine, pepper(s) and cinnamon stick. 

Preheat oven to 350ºF. 

In a shallow dish, combine flour and seasonings. Dredge chicken pieces in the flour mixture and shake excess off. Evenly space chicken pieces on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silpat (do not use parchment paper - it sticks and makes you a scary mommy).

Bake for 30 minutes at 350ºF. After 30 minutes, using tongs flip chicken pieces, bake for an additional 15 minutes at 350ºF. Turn oven up to 425ºF and continue baking for 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on the baking sheet. Serve hot or room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers and love lunch tomorrow.