Tuesday Tip Thanksgiving Edition: More tips on Brining

It’s November gang and that means that Thanksgiving is just around the corner!  Last year, OHC brought you Thanksgiving related Tuesday Tips all the way up till the week of Thanksgiving.  It was so fun that I think we should do it again!  Last year we discussed the benefits of brining your bird and if you are still not on the brining bandwagon, what are you waiting for?!  Get it!

Today’s tip is also about brining because there’s always more to learn!

The basic base for a brine is water right?  But brining liquid doesn’t have to be just water based, oh no friends, you can use anything.  A list of things I’ve used in brining include:

  • Wine
  • Beer (hellz yeah!)
  • Apple Cider
  • Unsweetened cranberry juice

All that sounds pretty tasty right?  And it totally is!  A brine consists of:

  • Liquid
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Seasonings and miscellaneous veggies

Some people don’t use sugar when they brine but that’s not a practice I subscribe to, so for the purposes of this post, we will be talking about a sugar and salt brine.  I typically will use just a touch less sugar in my brine than salt.  If it’s a straight-on even amount, I find that the meat becomes too sweet and you lose some of the savory components of a lovely roast or grilled dinner.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you are using a liquid that tends to be on the sweeter side, for example apple cider or even the cranberry juice, you will need to take this into consideration when creating the brine.  You will have to add in even less sugar than you normally would because the meat will be able to pull sugar out of the liquid as it’s brining.

The same rule applies if you are adding in a sweet aromatic to help season the brine, such as some fruit.  Fruit contains a good bit of sugar and you will need to factor that in as you create the brine.

An example of a sweeter type of brine is one using apple cider and cranberry juice.  While I did use unsweetened cranberry juice, cranberries still contain sugar, so keep that in mind.

Andrea’s Apple cider brine for Two bone-in Chicken breasts:

2 bone-in chicken breasts

For the liquid:

  • 1C unsweetened cranberry juice
  • 3C apple cider
  • 2C water
  • 1/4C kosher salt
  • 1.5 TBSP brown sugar

Seasonings and aromatics:

  • 1/4-1/2 yellow onion chunked
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/4 green pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 chipotle peppers + 2 spoons of sauce
  • 2 small red apples cut in half
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder (salt free)
  • Large pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 dashes of cayenne pepper
  • Small dash of cinnamon

In a very large mixing bowl combine the ingredients for the liquid brine.  Stir until all the sugar and salt is dissolved.  Add in the remaining ingredients and stir.  Add in the chicken breasts, add more water so that the chickens are completely submerged and covered with liquid.  Make sure the bowl is large enough that the chickens have plenty of room and they are not stacked on top of each other.  Brine for about 6 hours.  Remove from brine and rinse under cold water.  Pat dry with paper towels and season the chicken with seasonings of your choice.  I used:

  • Garlic powder
  • Ground pepper
  • Rosemary
  • Smoked paprika
  • Chili powder

Place in roasting dish with a splash of broth for basting.  Bake at 375 until cooked through, about 20 minutes to half an hour.  Allow to rest for two minutes and then serve.

This made one of the best brines we’ve had for some time.  The chicken was totally tender with just a hint of sweetness in the background but not so much that it over powered the savory spices.  You could use this brine for chicken legs as well or even try it with some bone-in pork chops.

Because I used two juices, plus apples in this brine, I kept the brown sugar down to a minimum.  You could even get away with using 1TBSP of brown sugar as well.  I used 1.5 TBSP just to play it safe.

Since I brine a good bit whenever we have poultry or pork, it gives me a chance to play around with combinations.  Experimenting with brines is so much fun!  Give brines a chance guys because you can walk away with some mighty tasty dishes!

Here’s a list of last year’s Thanksgiving Tuesday Tips!

Plan out Thanksgiving

Prep and chop veggies ahead of time

Brining is your friend

Simmering stock with veggie trimmings

4 thoughts on “Tuesday Tip Thanksgiving Edition: More tips on Brining

    • Lori, For sure give it a try! Brining is awesome!

      Healthy Apple, Cranberry juice in a brine is awesome isn’t it? Love it!

      Katy, brining with beer is definitely the way to go! It works so well, it’s amazing. :D Good luck with your new beers!

  1. I love using cranberry juice in brining…this is a great post! I’m going to try adding brown sugar to mine…I bet it tastes delish..I’m looking forward to meeting you in San Fran on Friday for the Foodbuzz Festival!

  2. My husband and I went to a beer festival a few weeks ago and found an organic apple cider (Samuel Smith’s) that we’re going to try and use this Thanksgiving. We might brine, and also make a gravy with the beer!

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