Friday, August 17, 2012

Pickle Brined Chicken

Arial Shot of a Sweet, Salty Alien World

Don't throw away that leftover pickle juice! If you're not going to pour some into your Tecate, there's another use for the juice: brining chicken. Brining makes your meat more tender, juicy and flavorful. It requires a little more time and work than just pulling chicken parts out of a package but the results are well worth the effort.

One recent afternoon I was getting a late start on prepping some chicken for the grill and needed a quick brining method. While Googling for the answer, which I should have come to naturally but I was a bit frazzled with the global warming and all, I crunched the last of a jar of pickles and had a "what if" moment.*

Not willing to surrender to either dry, boring chicken or one-use pickle juice I combined Ruhlman's quick brine method with the remaining juice from the jar. The results? Eureka!

When you try this, and you should, be sure to adjust Ruhlman's method for the amount of pickle juice you intend to add. I replaced about a cup of water and two tablespoons of salt. I also left out the aromatics because they weren't needed with this tweak and I'd wanted to get a full picture of what the pickle juice was bringing to the party.

The nice thing about Ruhlman's method is that if adjusted properly even a short brining period produces juicy results without over-salting the meat. After a couple of  hours in the brine I patted down my chicken parts and then slathered them in my Kansas City-style favorite sauce. After a short time over indirect heat my family and I enjoyed a tender, juicy, sweet and salty delight hot off the grill.

To really taste the brine I left the sauce off of one breast. Delicious. Also, it had more of a sweet, vinegary kick than my usual brine. Try it with your next brined meat and your favorite pickle. It's a quick and easy way to brighten a meal.


* Yeah, I'm not the first and I won't be the last, but if you mention a certain fast food chain there'll be no chicken for you. Dig?

Serve with a side of kale and love thy neighbor.