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I have been trying to brine chicken and it never seems to brine successfully. I have followed the brine procedure correctly. I added 2 litres of spring water to a stainless steel pot with 140g kosher salt and stirred until completely dissolved. I then added the chicken(weighs 1kg) and left for 8 hours. After cooking I always notice the brine hasn't reached some parts of the chicken, usually parts of the leg. It also doesn't taste salty, plump or juicy. I have varied salinity(up to 10%) and even left the brine from between 12-40 hours however the brining still varies and I never get a fully plump, juicy and salty chicken.

I am guessing the birds I am using are the problem, I have used birds from 3 different shops but they never brine properly. I even got one from an organic shop but that didn't work properly either. Any idea what the problem might be? I know this sounds strange, It seems I am the only person in the world who is having this issue.

edit: Jefromi, I am indeed boiling it. I followed your previous advice however slow cooking does not absorb salt in the same way brining does, otherwise you would get plump, tasty and juicy meat(like brining) which you do not.

The reason I am not using dry heat methods is because I have a gastric health disorder and I cannot tolerate grilled, oven or fried foods. These wreck havoc on my stomach. My gastric disorder is so bad that I cannot absorb proteins unless they have absorbed a lot of salt(equal to brining). This is why I am brining and converting the meat and brine liquid directly into a soup. This is also why simply salting the broth isn't sufficient, the meat needs to absorb salt to the level of brining otherwise it will wreck havoc on my stomach.

Jefromi, you say the problem is simmering, if so why would simmering cause salt to leave the meat cells especially if it is simmered in the original brine solution? Why would some parts of the bird brine properly and not other parts as I am finding with simmering?

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  • How are you cooking the chicken?
    – Cascabel
    Jan 5, 2012 at 3:04
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    @Jefromi: Boiling it - see his other questions. We've tried to explain that brining is only intended for dry-heat cooking, but...
    – Aaronut
    Jan 5, 2012 at 17:08
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    @Aaronut: Yeah, I figured, I was just hoping that something had changed.
    – Cascabel
    Jan 5, 2012 at 17:42
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    Please refer back to my answer to another of your questions: cooking.stackexchange.com/a/19762/1672 If you're boiling it, that is your problem, not the brining or the birds.
    – Cascabel
    Jan 5, 2012 at 17:44

2 Answers 2

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How do you 'notice' when the brine hasn't reached certain areas?

Its easy to see if the brine is working and you're possibly just overcooking - weigh the bird pre and post brine, before cooking. If it weighs more, you've got the liquid.

A properly brined bird shouldn't taste like 'omg, thats salty!'. I think two things are going on here:

  • Your expectations may be off. Brining isn't magic. It just gives you more liquid in the bird so that when you cook some out there's more at the end. (It can enhance flavor if you add herbs & spices to the brine also).

  • You may just be overcooking the chicken. If you overcook it enough, the brine will appear to have done nothing - you've just cooked out all the juiciness you put it. Use a meat thermometer and make sure its 'just right'.

Brining definitely works though, and it shouldn't be overly bird specific.

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Try dry brining.

  • Sprinkle the chicken liberally with Morton Tender Quick
  • Let it set for an hour or two
  • Rinse the chicken
  • Store over-night in the fridge
  • Cook as normal
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