Chicken is likely the most eaten meat across the world due to its inexpensive nature, wide availability and versatility of preparing. Part of the poultry family which includes Turkey, Cornish game hens, Duck and other wild or domesticated birds, Chicken is by far the most popular and consumed of all birds.
Chicken can often be purchased whole or cut into specific segments such as whole legs, thighs, drumsticks, split breast or one of the most popular cuts, boneless skinless breast. It is important to note that the more processing the chicken goes through before you purchase it, the more expensive it will be.
On its own, chicken is a fairly bland meat that really needs to be seasoned in some way prior to cooking to enhance the flavor of the finished dish. There are several methods to accomplish this including:
- Soaking Marinades
- Injected Marinades
- Dry Seasoning Rubs
Let’s look at each of these methods in greater detail.
Brining is a method that typically consists of soaking the chicken in whole or parts, in a heavily salted water solution. By brining the chicken it tenderizes the meat and can often add more moisture to the meat preventing it from drying to quickly when cooked. Brines can be as basic as 1 gallon of water to 1 cup of salt or additional ingredients can be added to enhance the flavor of the meat. My favorite brine includes 3 parts water, 1 part apple cider vinegar, 1 cup salt and various seasonings such as garlic, onion, Italian or Cajun seasoning mixes depending on the type of flavor I’m looking for in the finished dish. Either way, when brining chicken it’s best to allow it to soak fully immersed in the brine solution for at least 4 hours prior to cooking.
Similar to brining, marinating chicken can tenderize and enhance the flavor significantly. In most cases, brining is used for whole chicken where marinades are used on chicken pieces (with the exception of injected marinades). There are many pre-prepared marinades available at any local grocer or you can make up your own home made marinade. These usually consist of a mixture of oil, vinegar, sugar and seasonings. One of our favorite and fairly easy marinades consists of olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, garlic and Italian seasoning. To marinade chicken pieces simply place them in a plastic zip lock bag, pour in the mixed marinade and allow to soak in the fridge for 2-24 hours. (The longer it marinades the more flavor you will have). If using whole chicken and you want to get adventurous, use a marinade injector (like a large needle and syringe) to inject the marinade directly into the meat at various points.
This method of flavor enhancing is typically used when frying or grilling chicken. Dry rubs simply mean coating the outside of the chicken with some type of dry seasoning mix consisting of Salt, pepper and various other seasonings and allowing the chicken to rest for 30-60 minutes prior to cooking. Most often, this method is followed by basting with some type of sauce during the cooking process to prevent the meat from losing too much of the natural juices.
That about covers the main methods of enhancing the flavor of chicken. For more great recipes and tips, be sure to visit our Free Recipes Website.
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