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Author Topic: Brine Pachanga – A Low Salt Poultry Flavor Brine (Turkey Tested and Approved)  (Read 3842 times)

Offline Pachanga

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Brine Pachanga – A Low Salt Poultry Flavor Brine


Fuzzybear asked me to post my brine recipe for poultry, specifically for Cinnamon spice Chicken (http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/index.php?topic=12473.0).  With Thanksgiving just around the corner, this may be something to consider.  I originally developed this brine for turkey and have brined over 50 turkeys with great success.

There are many theories and methods of brining. This is a method I like and it works well for me. It is not the only brine in the world. This is my method of brining.  This is the way I brine and why but I am certainly not claiming it superior to others, just different.   If you already have a brine and brining technique you like and do not want to be bothered with another technique or additional information, I invite you to disregard this post.  This recipe is my opinion and should be considered as such.

The following is my flavor brine recipe which was developed over several years of experimenting.  I slowly backed off of the traditional 1 cup kosher salt to one gallon of water and started brining longer. This left me with a large brining window of two to four days without error.  The broth imparts a subtle and pleasant background flavor while leaving the poultry flavor intact and out front.  Wild game benefits significantly in both taste and moisture.  The meat texture does not change after such a long brine.  I roast about six turkeys a year (mostly store brand injected turkeys using Alton Brown’s method to 161 degrees middle breast) and have brined for many years using this method.  Only one has been below my expectations and it was still better for the process.  This Bird comes out moist.  After the process, you can smoke, barbeque, grill, roast, braise, rotisserie or use any method desired.  The poultry will be moist, tender, and flavorful.

I do not only use this brine on turkey.  All poultry that has not been marinated in some other method is brined at my house (my family is spoiled, vocal and insistent).  Split chicken breasts, chicken breast filets, whole chickens, pheasant, quail, dove, and wild turkey are all candidates.  I generally brine smaller cuts for only one or two days but I have forgotten the brine before and brined split chicken breasts for four days without a texture change or salt problem.  My brining refrigerator is set to 33 degrees which may make a difference.

Anyone who has read some of my previous posts knows that I enjoy the science behind the cooking.  I believe this knowledge makes for a better chef.  Over the years, I have studied the brining process extensively and have concluded that there is still a lot of mystery that surrounds this science.  Disagreements and subtle arguments are not uncommon.  Food-scientists give somewhat different explanations of why brined meat can be more moist but not too salty. They are mostly in agreement that brining involves intracellular and intercellular water and minerals naturally within the meat, protein structures, molecular diffusion and osmosis but then each adds their own theory  and nuance to the process.  In addition there is brine duration, the amount of salt in solution, the size, shape and density of the meat, cooking method, temperature and the target meat temperature.  We do not have a definitive scientific answer as to the comings and goings at the cellular and molecular level.

I do not know why this low salt, long brine duration works or why it makes a significant difference to poultry much less to previously  injected poultry.  I do know it does produce a tender, moist and flavorful product and is very forgiving in the timing arena.  I recognize that my taste buds enjoy this much more than a product which is not brined.  

This is a two step brine.  First vegetable broth is made.  This can be strained and frozen for future use as both.  This second step is to add brining solution to the vegetable broth.  The brine is low salt brine.  The standard brine normally calls for 1 cup kosher salt to 1 gallon of water. This brine calls for 6 oz.  (about 5/8 cup) of kosher salt and course sea salt per gallon of water.  Habanero Smoker has a recipe posted on the Bradley Recipe Site (http://www.susanminor.org/forums/showthread.php?t=23).  His recipe calls for 3.5 oz. Kosher Salt (about 3/8 cup) of salt per gallon of water so it is even lower salt.  This recipe is good reading and will provide more information as well as other ingredients (like pickling spice which sounds good), thoughts and methods.  I have not gone that low in salt content yet but intend to try it in stages.  I have no doubt his recipe will work well. I do not remove the vegetables when brining.  This may effectively lower the salt content because there is more volume in the container so this brine may be very close to Habanero’s salt content.

The benefit of low salt brine for me is that it is easy and more foolproof.  The poultry can be brined for several days without imparting too much salt flavor.  There seems to be a large window for perfect brining.  Timing is not critical.  The negative is the preparation takes place several days prior to the serving time.

The following is the broth recipe.  It may seem arduous but rough cutting vegetables is easy and goes fast. Also, this is an ingredient list of possible ingredients.  Not all of them are necessary and most of these should come from leftover frozen trimmings or vegetables that are a little beyond their time. Alternatives such as frozen vegetables are given.  Try to use most of the following.

Make a Vegetable Stock:
1 Gallon Water
2 Onions Sliced
2 Heads  (not cloves) garlic peeled and crushed
2 Potatoes Sliced
1 Squash Sliced
4-6 Carrots Sliced
6 Stalks Celery sliced
½ - ¾ cup  Frozen Peas
½  - ¾ cup Frozen Corn
½  - ¾ cup Frozen Green Beans
½ - ¾ cup Frozen Mixed Vegetables
2 Tablespoons Parsley
1 - 2 Tablespoon Basil
6 Green Onions
2 Bell Peppers Sliced
½ Apple
2 Tablespoons Peppercorns
2 Bay Leaves

Three or four days before serving time, start the stock.  The Vegetable Stock is really at your discretion.  A stock should be leftover flavoring.   Start saving peels, bean snaps scraps or slightly wilted vegetables for the stock and freeze or save for a week or so in the fridge.  Add or subtract according to what you have but use most of the above.  Roughly cut so that when simmered, ingredients will flavor the water.  In a large stock pot with cover, place all stock ingredients in the pot except water and slightly brown some of the vegetables (I use a stainless steel turkey fryer pot large enough to hold both the brine and poultry).  (You can skip the browning for a slightly different flavor).  Pour in the water and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 2 to 4 hours until the vegetables are very soft.  You now have a vegetable stock which you can use for any recipe you wish.  If saving and freezing, strain all solids and freeze in small containers.  Removing solids is not necessary or desirable for the poultry brine.

I use some course sea salt in my brine.  I think it adds to the complexity of the flavor.  To make the brine, add the following ingredients except the ice water to the 1  gallon of broth (with solids still in the broth).  When you are finished with the below process, the product will be two gallons of liquid plus the vegetable solids with a total of 12 ounces of salt (about 1 1/4 cup) suspended in the 2 gallons of liquid and solids.

Make a brine:
Add the following to 1 gallon of vegetable stock liquid plus vegetable solids
12 oz. [about one and one forth (1-1/4) Cup] Kosher or course Sea Salt (I use a 4 to 1 Mixture)
2/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar or granulated sugar and ½ tablespoon molasses
½ Tablespoon Allspice Berries
1 Tablespoon  Ginger (fresh or ground)
1 Tablespoon Peppercorns
1 Tablespoon Ground Chile (New Mexico, Ancho, Pasilla or other favorite)
1/2 Teaspoon Poultry Seasoning

Add the following iced water after simmering the brine solution and one gallon vegetable broth for one hour.  (more directions below)

1 Gallon Iced Water (add after simmering and cooling)

After simmering the above one gallon of vegetable broth (plus vegetable solids) with brine ingredients for sixty minutes or more.  Remove from heat, stir well and cool. If you feel you have lost a lot of water due to steam and unintentional heavy boiling, add some more or measure without the solids and add accordingly to make one gallon of liquid plus vegetable solids.  When cool, add Iced Water.  Stir well.  You will now have two gallons of liquid plus vegetable solids and brine ingredients including a total of approximately one and one forth cup salt.  Add Poultry.  Place in the refrigerator for up to four days, stirring daily.  Remove from brine and rinse well.  Cook, using your regular method or vacuum pack and freeze for later use.  20 pound turkeys are brined for 3 to four days.  Chicken breasts filets for one day and split chicken breasts for two or three days.  Whole chickens are brined for two to four days.

A couple of notes:  
Salt comes in a many forms, densities and crystal sizes.  This makes volume measurements inaccurate.  Use a scale if you have one available.  Morton’s kosher salt measures to about 5/8 cup per gallon of water.  Do not use iodized salt unless you favor the flavor imparted by iodine.

When brining a turkey, I will add as much other smaller poultry as will fit in the brine and remove it in a couple of days and add more.  I also have been guilty of bringing the solution (poultry removed) to a simmer after a few days in the refrigerator to kill any bugs, cooling it and brining some more.

I will post some photos after Thanksgiving.

Good luck and long brining,

Pachanga

« Last Edit: November 24, 2009, 08:53:19 am by Pachanga »

Offline KevinG

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Re: Brine Pachanga – A Low Salt Poultry Brine
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2009, 09:43:07 am »
Sounds interesting, but I'm a little confused on how much salt you actually used, in the text you said 5/8 cup of kosher per gallon of water, but in the ingredients you said 1/4 cup per gallon.
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Offline Pachanga

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Re: Brine Pachanga – A Low Salt Poultry Brine
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2009, 09:50:25 am »
KevinG

Thanks for reading clsoely and pointing this out.  Under the brine it says 1 1/4 cup.  A space is left out. I will amend and try to make this more clear. 

Again, thanks for pointing this out.  Let me know if it is still unclear after the amendment.

Pachanga

Offline Fuzzybear

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Re: Brine Pachanga – A Low Salt Poultry Brine
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2009, 09:53:10 am »
Pachanga:

Where's the cinnamon? ;D

Offline KyNola

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Re: Brine Pachanga – A Low Salt Poultry Brine
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2009, 09:59:19 am »
Pachanga,
It sounds really good but also on the salt clarification, is it 1 1/4 cup of salt total and that is why you said 5/8 cup of kosher salt and 5/8 cup coarse sea salt?  That would equal 1 1/4 cup of salt in total so if someone didn't have one of the salts you simply use 1 1/4 cup of the one salt that you do have, am I on the right track here?

KyNola

Offline Pachanga

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Re: Brine Pachanga – A Low Salt Poultry Brine
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2009, 09:59:29 am »
Fuzzybear,

As I was once told by an old Cajun friend.  "I'm gonna start calling you Maytag."  I asked him why.  "'cause you is a agitator."

Good luck and continue to stir the pot,

Pachanga

Offline Pachanga

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Re: Brine Pachanga – A Low Salt Poultry Brine
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2009, 10:03:05 am »
Kynola,

Right.  I use 1 cup kosher plus 1/4 cup Sea Salt (total one and one fourth cup) in two gallons of water.  You can use all Sea salt or all kosher salt.  I've done it all three ways.  The final product is 12 ounces or about one and one forth cups salt. 

Another way to express the formula is 6 ounces or 5/8 cup salt per gallon of water.

I will try to correct the confusion.  Please report anything further that needs clarification.

I appreciate it.

Pachanga
« Last Edit: November 19, 2009, 10:27:14 am by Pachanga »

Offline KyNola

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Re: Brine Pachanga – A Low Salt Poultry Brine
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2009, 10:04:56 am »
Nope, you were good with your clarification.  I hastily posted my question to you before your clarification got posted.

Thanks Pachanga.

Offline seemore

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Re: Brine Pachanga – A Low Salt Poultry Brine (Turkey Tested and Approved)
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2009, 08:03:03 am »
Sounds good, Pachanga.  I'm going to add this to my "must try" list.
mrs s

Offline Pachanga

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Re: Brine Pachanga – A Low Salt Poultry Brine (Turkey Tested and Approved)
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2009, 09:38:38 am »
Mrs. S,

I made my brine last night and and cooled while I slept.  A 24 pound turkey went into the drink this morning for a Friday 1:00 PM  Thanksgiving dinner.  I will buy 20 or so chicken breasts today to slip into the cracks.  They will be vac sealed and on standby for pachangas.

I do not think you will be disappointed.  I am planning on posting some photos of the process.  It comes together pretty quick as for as active prep.

Good luck and slow smoking,

Pachanga

Offline murmur

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 Utility Turkeys on sale after Easter for 55 cents a lb.
So I bought $60 worth -over 100 lbs :o

I just made the decision this morning to make this for supper tomorrow so I know I am way too short of a brine, but it is what it is.

I modified the brine slightly just to use up a few odds and sods but basically followed the recipe. I was very pleased and will be going to this brine in the future.
Intention was to finish in the smoker, but a hail storm drove me inside when the turkey was at 148 F so I finished in a 380f oven til done

« Last Edit: April 24, 2017, 05:59:50 pm by murmur »