One of the sins of smoking or even grilling chicken is doing so without brining it. Brining your chicken protects it from drying out ad make it moister and much more tender. Chicken is far too easy to dry out, even for an expert smoker or griller. This is especially true for cuts like the boneless chicken breast but it is also true for whole chickens.
How Hard Is It To Brine
Brining is incredibly easy to do and making a basic brine takes just 2 minutes. All that you need to do is get a gallon of cold water and add 3/4 to 1 cup of kosher salt and 1/3 cup of sugar. The amount of salt that you add depends on the time that you have to brine. If you only have 30 minutes to brine a skinless chicken breast, use more salt. The extra salt will make the brine work faster. If you are doing an overnight brine on a whole chicken, use less salt so that you do not oversaturate your meat with salt.
If you are doing a basic brine, there is no need to heat the water. The salt and sugar will dissolve just fine in cold water with a little stirring. Then when it is dissolved, you can use it right away.
If you want to get more complex with your brine, this is when you need to heat the water. In this case, the brine would still consist of the same salt and sugar content but instead of leaving it be, boil the brine. Then add onions, garlic, herbs and whatever other flavors that you want in the meat. Let it boil for a few minutes and then take it off the heat and let it cool by itself covered. When it is cool enough, put it in the refrigerator and chill it. I shouldn’t have to tell you this but I will, never add your meat to a hot or even warm brine. You want the brine to be the same temperature of refrigerated meat so that it stays in the safe zone.
Cooking Brined Meat
When you are done brining, rinse off your meat and season it as you desire. Cooking it will be the same as cooking unbrined meat with the exception that it will be less sensitive to drying out. This can be very helpful for new cooks who do not yet have the grasp for when their meat is done. Brining is an asset to any cook and a great safety net for beginners.