chicken

How to Salt and Brine Poultry

Salting or brining poultry in a saltwater solution is a great way to boost the flavor and juiciness of the meat. However, before you go anywhere near your chicken with salt, there's an important question that needs to be asked first: 

What type of kosher salt do you use?

Believe it or not, but there's a big difference between Diamond Crystal & Morton Salt brands – sorry Morton Salt girl – it affects how much salt you should use! 

How to salt and brine poultry

Morton Kosher Salt (as well as most other store brands) is made by flattening salt granules into large thin flakes while Diamond Crystal uses a 100-year old proprietary evaporation process in which upside-down pyramids are stacked one over the next to form a crystal. Diamond Crystal's method results in a hollow pyramid-shaped grain. This hollow structure accounts for the salt’s lightness, & crush-ability. Because of the hollow pyramid's shape, each teaspoon of Diamond Crystal Salt has less salt than Morton Salt, thus you are less likely to over salt (you can always add more salt).

If you're not already using it, I recommend making a switch to Diamond Crystals, if only because it's much more forgiving in the kitchen. Also, most recipe writers don't specify which salt they use in their recipes, but I have a hunch since most chefs (at least that I know) use Diamond & most cook books are at least co-written with a chef, Diamond Crystal are being used in the recipes.   

We use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt in our kitchen, so if you're using Morton's simply reduce the measurement by 1/3. For example, 1 tsp Diamond Crystal = 2/3 tsp Morton Salt.

ADD SALT TO POULTRY BY EITHER BRINING OR SALTING

WHY IT WORKS

Salting Poultry is a great way to keep lean proteins juicy. When salt is added to the surface of poultry it draws the moisture out. The salt then dissolves in the juices forming a brine that is eventually reabsorbed. When the salt is reabsorbed it changes the structure of the cells making it more tender and allowing it to hold on to more of it's natural moisture by about 10%. Most unsalted meat will loose about 20% of it's moisture during cooking, so by adding the salt you basically cut the moisture loss by half. (Sorry I can't explain further than that — I wasn't that great of a chemistry student.) Salting does take more time, but it won't keep you from getting crispy skin when cooked, if desired. 

Brining poultry works in pretty much the same way by changing the structure of the cell wall, tenderizing, and giving the cell the ability to retain moisture. The differences are brining is faster, & will add moisture to the meat, not just retain it, resulting in super juicy poultry. The downside is, with all the extra moisture, achieving a crispy skin becomes more difficult. Another complication to brining is space, as you need a container big enough & the fridge space to store the bird. I use a huge soup pot and have our fridge shelves situated so that it the pot fits. In the past I have also placed the birds and salt solution in a cooler with ice – just make sure to add ice as needed.

So, in short, if you want a pretty juicy bird with crispy skin, salt the poultry; but, if you want a super juicy bird and don't care about the skin, brine the bird.

Regardless, only salt or brine poultry that HASN'T been pre-basted, koshered, treated, or seasoned. It has already been salted. 

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SALTING POULTRY

When salting, apply kosher salt evenly inside the cavity and under the skin of the breasts and legs. Let sit on an elevated surface, such as a wire rack placed in a cookie sheet, and place in the refrigerator. If salting for longer than 12 hours, you'll need to wrap the poultry tightly in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. 

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BRINING POULTRY

When brining, I do use table salt instead of kosher salt as it dissolves more quickly. Make sure to fully submerge the chicken or turkey with water.

For chicken, the ratio is 1/4 cup salt for every 1 quart of water. 
For turkey, use 1/2 cup salt for every 1 gallon of water. 

Use the chart below as a guide.

Be sure to plan accordingly this method takes time to brine and air dry. 

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After brining to achieve the most crisp skin possible you'll need to air dry the bird. First, pat the bird dry inside and out with paper towels. Then set it on a wire rack placed on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 8 hours up to overnight.

 
How to Salt & Brine Poultry  |  Home Again Creative

CHICKEN POT PIE WITH BISCUIT CRUMBLE TOPPING

The days are starting to get shorter and the weather is getting crisper. Putting us in the mood for hearty, savory foods. I ask, "Does it get any more savory than chicken pot pie?" 

My obstacle to making a great chicken pot pie has always been the pie crust. I just don't have any luck making homemade pie crust. However, being a Southerner I can make a variety of great biscuits.

Instructions

For the Filling

  • 1 1/2 lb. pieces, boneless, skinless chicken breast and thighs

  • 3 cups of chicken broth

  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil

  • 1 onion (chopped fine)

  • 5 carrots (chopped into 1/4" pieces)

  • 3 celery ribs (minced)

  • 10 oz of cremini mushrooms (trimmed & minced)

  • 1 tsp of soy sauce

  • 1 tsp tomato sauce

  • 4 tbsp. butter

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour

  • 1 cup of whole milk

  • 2 tsp of lemon juice

  • 3 tbsp of fresh parsley

  • 1 cup of frozen peas

For the Biscuit Topping

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour

  • 2 tsp of baking powder

  • 3/4 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 tsp of pepper

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

  • 6 tbsp of chilled butter (cut into 1/4" pieces)

  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk + 2 tbsp more

First, heat your oven to 450F to cook the crumble biscuit topping. 

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and butter into a large bowl, stand mixer, or food processor. Mix the combination into a coarse meal then stir in the parmesan, and buttermilk until a dough forms.

Crumble the mixture in irregular shaped pieces and place them onto a baking sheet. Then cook the crumbles just until they start to smell like warm biscuits, shouldn't take more than 10 minutes.    

{Tip: Wet your hands with water when you handle to dough it will prevent the dough from sticking to them} 

While the crumbles are baking, in a dutch oven or heavy pot bring the chicken broth to a simmer and cook the chicken until done (170F), should take about 10 minutes.

Once the chicken is done transfer it to a large bowl, to cool, and strain the broth. Poaching the chicken in the broth will give you full bodied base for your gravy in the pie.

When the chicken has cooled to a point where you can handle it cut it into 1/4" cubes.

While the chicken cools, add 1 tbsp oil to the now empty dutch oven heating the oil until it is shimmering. Then add the onion, carrots, and celery cooking until soft, adding salt and pepper to taste.

When the onion, carrots, and celery are done cooking transfer them to a container.  Then add the other tablespoon of oil to the pot heating over medium until it is shimmering. Add the mushrooms, cooking covered until they release their liquids.

The mushrooms should release their liquids after a few minutes once they have add the soy sauce and tomato paste. Cook uncovered until the liquid evaporates. A dark fond should develop on the bottom of the pot once this has happened transfer the mushrooms to another container.

Melt the butter in the empty pot over medium heat. Once melted add the flour and stir constantly for about a minute. Then slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk. Bring the liquid to a simmer, scrapping any fond from the bottom of the pot. Cook until a thick gravy forms.

Once you have your thick gravy remove pot from the heat add the lemon, parsley, chicken, and peas. Season the filling with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the filling into a 13" x 9" baking dish. Place the biscuit crumbles randomly on top of filling cooking until the crumbles are nicely browned, about 15 minutes.

{Tip: You may want to place the baking dish onto a foil lined baking sheet just incase the filling bubbles over.}  

Allow to cool for a bit and enjoy!

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Sage Stuffed Chicken

This dish is one of my favorites, it is light, and fresh, yet gooey with a just the right amount of kick.

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Instructions

  • 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast

  • 4 Slices of Smoked Gouda

  • 8 Fresh Sage Leaves

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 1 tbsp. Fresh Sage (minced)

  • 4 Cloves of Garlic (minced)

  • ¼ tsp. Ground Cayenne Pepper

Place chicken inside a plastic grocery bag, or use plastic wrap to cover the chicken breast. Using a meat pounder, or a rubber mallet whatever you have in the tool box to do the job, pound the chicken evenly as flat as you can without tearing the meat. Next place a slice of gouda inside the chicken, then roll the sage between you index finger and thumb crushing the sage and releasing its extracts, place the sage on top of the cheese. Fold the other half of the chicken over closing the breast. Season the breast with salt and pepper.

(The chicken breast in the back is a great example of what not to do. If this happens suture the breast with tooth picks.)

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In a large skillet add the oil, minced sage, garlic, and cayenne pepper to a small pan cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook chicken until done, inside temperature should be 165F.

An Additional Tip: Make a double batch of the oil mixture and toss with some pasta for the side. 

Whole Grilled Chicken with Herb Rub

One of best ways to ensure you know what you are eating is to eat at home. With the kiddos and your extracurricular activities I know eating a home cooked meal is easier said than done. What you need is a plan. I thought I would share a page out of our Home Cooked Meal Play Book. One of our go to plans includes a whole chicken cooked over the grill on the weekend. A chicken can provide life saving left overs for week night meals. The chicken can be added to a stir fry, BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches, pastas, quesadilla, tacos, nachos, salads, anything. Here is one of our recipes we use to cook chickens on the grill. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp spanish paprika

  • 2 tbsp ground sage

  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary

  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic

  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

  • 1 whole chicken

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Instructions

  • Prepare a grill for "indirect grilling". Optional: soak your favorite type of wood chips for smoking, for chicken I like apple.

  • Mix all the spices/herbs together until well blended.

  • Lossen skin of chicken and rub under and over the skin.

  • Place chicken on the grill over "indirect heat."

  • Baste chicken with olive oil every twenty minutes or so.

  • Cook chicken until juices run clear and internal temperature reaches 160F.

What is your go to menu item that saves your weeknights? 

Jalapeno Sticky Wings

Just in time for the Super Bowl; my Jalapeno Sticky Wings are the perfect thing for a game day splurge!!

Instructions

  1. 3 lb Chicken wings

  2. 4 tbsp unsalted butter or ghee for paleo

  3. 1/4 cup Jalapeno or Pepper Jelly

  4. 2 tbsp honey

  5. 2 Jalapeno Chiles (seeded, and finely chopped)

  6. 1 tsp granulated garlic

  7. 1/2 tsp Paprika

  8. 1/2 tsp Chile Powder

  9. 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

  10. Sea Salt

  11. Ground Pepper

  • Get the grill hot..medium hot.

  • Over medium heat melt the butter. Stir in the jalapeno jelly, honey, chilies, granulated garlic, paprika, chile powder, cayenne, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

  • Over medium heat grill the chicken tenders/wings for about 6 minutes.

  • Remove from the grill toss with the jalapeno mixture, and serve immediately.

Other Tips

If you don't have a grill use your broiler.

Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken

One of the easiest things to make is a glaze, and it really doesn't get any easier than a honey glaze. This glaze gets a kick from the hot chile powders, and black pepper.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 2 tbsp agave syrup

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

  • 1 tsp chile powder

  • 1 tsp ground pepper

Mix all ingredients.

Toss the chicken in the glaze, I like to use bone in skin on chicken thighs.

Then grill & serve. 

Sicilian Chicken Soup

I must be more ready for fall than I'd like to admit because I have been craving soup for the last few weeks. So this weekend, I pulled out the giant stock pot and made some very yummy soup.

If you make one soup this fall, this really should be it! It's a slightly spicy chicken noodle soup and definitely worth the effort.

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Recipe

Ingredients

5 celery ribs
4 medium carrots, peeled
1 large yellow onion
2 medium potatoes, peeled
1 (14 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 (5 lb.) chicken, washed and cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
24 cups (6 quarts) water
creole seasoning (I like to use Tony Cachere's Famous Creole Seasoning) to taste (this gives the soup it's kick! Don't be afraid to use quite a bit!)
salt & pepper, to taste
small tubular pasta

Directions

  1. chop celery, carrots, & potatoes (into 1/4 inch pieces if you will not be following step 9. If you are, they can be bigger)

  2. chop tomatoes—save all juice

  3. put vegetables, tomatoes & juice, parsley, garlic and chicken pieces into a 10-quart stock pot

  4. Add water, season with salt, pepper & creole seasoning

  5. Bring to a boil over medium heat

  6. Skim off foam that rises to the top; may have to skim 2 or 3 times

  7. Partially cover and simmer for 2 hours

  8. When soup is finished, remove chicken pieces with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.

  9. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon and place in blender. With the pulse function, chop the veggies to very small pieces. Add back into broth.

  10. When chicken has cooled enough to handle, remove skin and bones and return meat to soup.

Notes: Soup is best when served the next day. Refrigerate and remove fat that collects at the top. Serve soup with small stubby pasta such as ditalini. Add freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.  

This makes a lot, so be prepared to eat if for every meal for the next week, have a lot of people over or freeze some.

Enjoy!!

xoxo—Lori