Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To brine or not to brine

Well, it's a question.

I had never thought about brining, until I heard about it from my lovely co-blogger Kitty, and then I was intrigued. I had a barbecue coming up and thought I would give it the old college try. Of course by the old college try, I do NOT mean drinking box wine directly from the box and playing beer pong, but feel free to partake in those activities after the grill is turned off.

I have, recently, developed a fondness for drumsticks. Don't ask me why I didn't like them in my earlier years, I have no explanation for my strange, youthful preference for boring breast meat. Thinking back on my requests, as a kid, for only breast meat, I actually think it can be attributed to my mother's excellent cooking. As a child I had no idea that breast meat could be dry and tasteless until I was much much older- THAT'S how good my mom is. Seriously.
So I had a mess of drumsticks, and I went to look for a recipe. I found this recipe that appealed to me (mostly because it is on a website called "Cooking for Engineers"). You'll notice that this posting is about a brine, but the recipe I am referencing calls it a lime marinade. If you read the very informative recipe, you'll learn, as I did, that "a soaking solution with acid should be referred to as a marinade." The inclusion of the lime juice means this is a marinade. However, in my limited experience, I generally marinate by coating meat in a thick sauce, or letting it sit in a liquid. As this was my first time actually immersing and soaking meat in a salt solution, it was my introduction to brining, so. brine brine brine. because I say so

Put the drumsticks (~8 lbs of them) in a large ziplock bag.
Dissolve 1/4 of a cup of table salt in 4 cups of water. Juice 1.5 limes and add the juice to the salt water. Mince 2 (or more!) cloves of garlic a dried chile pepper (I think the hotter the better- it's just in the brine) and add to the salt water. Pour this lovely, salty, spicy liquid into the ziplock bag with the chicken, and seal the bag, making sure to remove all the air in the bag so that the chicken stays completely submerged the whole time. Leave the chicken in the liquid (BRINE!) for 1-2 hours. I left it in the liquid for almost 2 hours, and it was plenty, so don't let it stay in too long and get too salty.

Remove the chicken from the bag and rinse it thoroughly. Toss the chicken in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of 1/2 of a lime, and your choice of spices. I used 1 tablespoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of coriander, and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder. The options are endless, use whatever you like.

Grill the drumsticks, turning every 5-7 minutes, for about 15 minutes, or until the meat reaches 175 degrees. I do NOT have a meat thermometer, but I plan to get one soon, and I will let you know how it goes- you know using a real indicator of "done-ness" rather than the half-assed timing and squeezing with grill tongs that I favor (haven't poisoned anyone yet).

These are, without a doubt, the best drumsticks I have ever made. The recipe is simple, and the results are juicy and delicious.

So come on, it's 4th of July weekend, get your brine-y grill on people!



  1. Aww yeah. This briney-marinade recipe I think would also work well for smoking the chicken. Smoke up, y'all! Chickens better watch out.

  2. chickens grab your feathers!
    i agree, this recipe would be great for smoking, i also realized i should have let everyone know- you can use any chicken parts you want, not just drumsticks! so really, chickens better watch out.