One way of making brine is to add the ingredients to a sauce pan, gently bringing them to a low simmer. This technique is especially good to use when whole fresh or dried herbs are in the brine recipe.
The simmering action pulls flavors out of those seasonings that would otherwise remain locked up. It's important that the brine is cooled quickly after it's done simmering.
Making Brine for Chicken
The brine shown on this page was made from a recipe I made up on the fly. I don't remember all the ingredients I used in it other than salt, some molasses for sweetness and flavor, black and red peppers, and garlic and onion powder.
Click the pictures for a larger view.
In addition to releasing flavors, simmering breaks the salt down to the smallest possible particles, which makes the brine much more effective at modifying the flesh of the chicken. The smaller particles can be absorbed into the chicken much easier and deeper.
Here's the chicken brine after simmering for 10 minutes on the stove. I removed it from the heat to start cooling as I prepared the next step.
It's not necessary, but I usually strain the larger pieces of herbs and spices out of the brine using a double strainer setup, as shown here. Once the brine hits the ice, it'll cool down quickly.
The brine has to be cooled down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit at the most. If it's any warmer than that when the chicken goes in, bacteria can start to get a foothold...something you do not want to happen!
Now the chicken breasts go into the ice cold brine. You can see that there are still a few ice cubes remaining in the brine, which is a good sign that it's cold enough.
When making brine this way, simmer the ingredients in half the amount of water called for in the recipe. When the concentrated mixture is added to the ice, it will end up with the correct saturation of salt.
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