May 172011
 

Here are a couple of recipes that I’ve used to good effect on chicken breasts (here I use the term to mean 1/2 of the actual breast). The objective was to get the breasts juicy enough to grill without them turning  into cardboard. The first one, “Teriyaki Marinade,” produces a very nice bbq-like infusion to the breasts. Great after grilling.

The second recipe, “Chicken Brine,” in some ways shows how brining differs from marinating: it’s basically salt + sugar + water + spices (NO ACID or oil). The Teriyaki recipe seems to be salt (soy sauce) + sugar + water + ACIDS (vinegar, Worcestershire sauce) + oil + spices.

So what? Actually, nothing what. I’ve used both of these recipes to good and similar effect. The flavors are very different, that’s all. The chicken breasts, in both cases, come out superb. The key is not to go over 2 hours of soaking in either case (for 8 to 10 breasts). One other difference, is that I didn’t wash off the “marinade” derived from the first Teriyaki recipe. Just take those pieces out and put them on a platter, ready for the grill. For the “brine”, you MUST thoroughly wash off the brine and pat dry before grilling–otherwise salty argh.

There are umpteen discussions on the Web of brine vs. marinade. Many are just confusing and not straighforward. I may be adding something at some point about making my own corned beef from a brisquet. I reckon brining will be called for….

Both of the following methods work wonders on getting you nicely grilled chicken. Although I haven’t tried it yet, other critters’ cuts of meat should be amenable, esp. to the Teriyaki recipe.

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Teriyaki Marinade
By: Mary Savard / Dawu
“Marinate chicken, steaks, or other favorite meats in this marinade for at least 2 hours before grilling. Enjoy!”
Original Recipe Yield 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (I prefer to use brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup dried onion flakes
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Instructions
In a medium bowl, mix the soy sauce, water, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, oil, onions, garlic powder, and ginger. Stir together until sugar dissolves. Voila – marinade!

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Teriyaki-Marinade/Detail.aspx

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Chicken Brine

Recipe By: Anon / Dawu
Serving Size: 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Black peppercorns
  • 3 teaspoons Dried thyme
  • 3 Bay leaves-crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons Garlic-minced
  • 1 teaspoon Whole juniper berries
  • 1/3 cup Crushed juniper berries
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1/2 cup Light brown sugar-packed
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine  the water, brown sugar and salt.
  2. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  3. Remove from the heat and add dry spice mixture and steep  for 1 hour.
  4. Place the chicken in a plastic bag and pour the seasoned brine to cover completely.
  5. Refrigerate overnight, mixing the contents a couple of times. (If only doing breasts or other chicken pieces, 2 hours max for, say, 8 breasts, is recommended).
  6. Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse thoroughly with cool water.
  7. Pat dry with a towel and grill.

Recipe Adapted from Duck Pastrami by Emeril Lagasse (but not by me!)

Notes: This recipe’s highlight is the use of juniper berries, which give a wonderful alpine gin-like aroma to the bird (juniper is actually where we get that fine liquor gin from). Use less as you see fit to cut down on this flavor. Suggest you don’t use any supplementary bbq sauce; just serve from the grill.

One small note: juniper berries are not good for pregnant women. For a nice short but informative writeup about this seasoning see “The Spice Trader“.