Brining makes meat juicier and enhances its flavor, but salt diffuses through flesh very slowly. You can double or triple the rate of diffusion by injecting the brine deep into muscle tissue. This is very easy to do using a butcher’s syringe, also called a meat injector. Meat injectors usually include two large needles: one has a slanted tip for marinades with spices, and one is perforated for diffusing liquids.
adapted from Modernist Cuisine at Home
Tips & Substitutions:
- Before preheating your oven, calibrate it to ensure it goes as low as 75 °C / 170 °F and can hold this temperature throughout the cooking time. You may have to use the “warm setting.” It is fine to use a slightly higher setting, but the cooking time may vary.
- People tend to make brines with too much salt, which results in dense meat with a hammy texture. The brines in Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Cuisine at Home have salt levels that won’t compromise the texture of the food.
- Most meat injectors include two needles. For this recipe, you’ll need the perforated needle that diffuses liquid.
- Inject the brine as evenly as possible, taking care not to pierce the skin. To see this technique in action, watch our MDRN KTCHN video on injection brining.
- Inject the brine slowly. The muscle will swell, which is normal, but if you inject the brine too quickly the muscle can burst.
- Although you can buy chicken breasts and thighs from your butcher, it’s better to buy a high-quality whole chicken and cut it up yourself. You’ll save money, and you can use the remaining parts in other recipes.
- Pat the chicken skin dry before baking. Wet skin can cool the chicken and cause it to cook more slowly or unevenly.
- We like to use a mandoline to create very thin slices of onion.
- The onions not only add flavor but also prevent the poultry from drying out as you slow-cook the meat at low-temperature.
- Use an oven-safe digital probe thermometer to monitor the core temperature of the chicken.
- It is necessary to hold the chicken breasts at 60 °C / 140 °F for an extra 20 minutes to ensure they are fully pasteurized.
- For more on the science of lightly cooked food, see page xxv of Modernist Cuisine at Home.
- It should only take 23 minutes to crisp the chicken, so be careful not to overcook it.
- The onions should only take a few extra minutes to caramelize since they are thinly sliced and already slightly cooked.