Sunday, August 12, 2007

Kitchen Bit

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A few months ago I was obsessed with finding the perfect fried chicken recipe--I tried several, combined several, but am still in search. I found a recipe that claimed it had replicated KFC's proprietary blend of 11 herbs and spices. It made for an okay coating, but wasn't great--it was very aromatic but the flavors didn't carry through. I decided to adapt it as a brine to use before roasting or grilling. I experiemented and made a few tweaks but I've found the blend that suits me. So, I'm putting it up here. We still have a few weeks of grilling season left and are heading into fall and winter when roasting a chicken doesn't also entail roasting yourself.

Brine for Chicken

2.5 quarts of water
1/3 cup salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 bay leaves
1 T paprika
1 t black pepper (ground)
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1 t basil
1 t oregano
1 t allspice (ground)
1 t sage
¾ t chili powder
¾ t celery seed (ground)
½ t thyme
½ t savory
½ t dry mustard
1 carrot, washed and chopped

Note: I process all my spices and herbs (excepting the bay leaves) through a spice grinder before adding to the mix. Maybe it’s some culinary version of the placebo effect, but it seems to intensify the flavor.

Combine 1.5 quarts of water and all ingredients in a large pot. Stir well to incorporate and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. Remove from heat. Allow to cool. Add remaining quart of cold water.

If brining a whole chicken brine from 4-6 hrs. If brining bone-in chicken pieces brine only 2-3 hours. For boneless, an hour to an hour and a half should be sufficient. Over-brining can make chicken rubbery or too salty.

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