Tired of Dried Out Chicken Breast?

Are you tired of dried out chicken breast?  There are two ways I use to guarantee that your chicken breasts aren't dry and have the texture of a hockey puck, brining and use a meat thermometer.

First technique is brining your chicken.  This is similar to using a marinade, but you submerge the chicken breast in a salt water solution instead.  I promise, you brine your chicken breast for an hour and even if you over cook them a little they will still turn out pretty juicy.

How You Make a Brine

The ratio to make a brine is generally 1 part salt to 16 parts water.

Brine Recipe
1/4 cup kosher salt
4 cups luke warm water

When I make it, I combine the ingredients in a gallon plastic bag.  Make sure all the salt dissolves.  I slosh the water back and forth in the plastic bag to help the salt dissolve.

Brine the chicken breasts for an hour in the fridge then dump out the brine water.  I've brined chicken breasts for as little as half an hour and had it make a difference.

Wash off the chicken and pat dry.  They're ready for however you want to prepare them.

You can mix in dried herbs, like garlic powder, red pepper flake, or even your favorite herb blend you would normally sprinkle on top of the chicken,  to impart a little extra flavor.  There are other brining recipes that call for using sugar, but this will add some calories to the chicken.

How Does Brining make that Chicken Juicy?

Sadly, I'm no Alton Brown so here is the wiki science of brining.

"Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked, via the process of denaturation. The brine surrounding the cells has a higher concentration of salt than the fluid within the cells, but the cell fluid has a higher concentration of other solutes. This leads salt ions to diffuse into the cell, whilst the solutes in the cells cannot diffuse through the cell membranes into the brine. The increased salinity of the cell fluid causes the cell to absorb water from the brine via osmosis. The salt introduced into the cell also denatures its proteins. The proteins coagulate, forming a matrix that traps water molecules and holds them during cooking. This prevents the meat from dehydrating."

Cook that Bird to the Correct Temperature

Figuring out when you stop cooking chicken breasts can be a pain if you're not using a meat thermometer.  You want an internal temperature of 165 degrees F when cooking your chicken breasts.

I bought a instant read meat thermometer similar to the one pictured below about a year ago, and love using it.  Even if you don't have time to brine, cooking the chicken to the correct temperature makes a huge difference

Instant Read Digital Meat Thermometer
Instant Read Digital Meat Thermometer

Additional Resources

Science of Brining

Food Network's Meat and Poultry Temperature Guide.

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