Chicken Buttermilk Brine ToTry

Gary Wiviott’s buttermilk brine –

  • 1/2 gal buttermilk,
  • 1 cup warm water,
  • 2/3 cup kosher salt,
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar,
  • 1/4 cup Old Bay Hot (Gary recommends just regular Old Bay tho’)
  • OPs modifications:  Sometimes we toss in some cut-up onions, celery, carrots, and some rosemary and thyme.  The fancies are usually added for more special occasions and we find that they work best if we mix the brine up a day early to let it mature for a day before putting the chicken in.  We brine chickens for around 12 hours.  Works on Thanksgiving turkeys too, except we give them an extra day.

The above was in post by Brian who responded with more as pasted below.

Those down south know all about buttermilk brines.  I once tried plain buttermilk and it didn’t work nearly as well as the basic brine mixture above (1/2 gal buttermilk, 1 cup warm water, 2/3 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar).  Even though the plain buttermilk is acidic enough, it doesn’t soak in and do it’s magic without the salt, sugar, and water to thin it down a wee bit.  Note that this amount of brine is for TWO chickens (halved, pieces, whatever).  Make just a half batch for one chicken.  I just use gallon Ziploc bags, one chicken each, for brining.

The brine by itself doesn’t add flavor so much as it tenderizes the meat and lets the natural chicken flavor out.  The spice that’s added only seems to be detectable in the chicken if you let the spices leach into the brine for a day …and the same applies to the herbs and veggies.  Some people simmer the herbs in the water for 10-15 minutes to bring out their flavor.  Some people add cut up carrots too …but I don’t think they add much.  If you DO add these other ingredients and let them soak in the brine for a day, then the chicken for a half-day in the ‘matured’ brine mixture …then the good flavors of all the above go clear down to the bone AND the chicken is made super tender and has great mouth feel.  It’s my favorite brine…. suitable for all ways of cooking chicken.

I do recommend buying Gary Wiviott’s book …he’s got an “my way or no way” attitude and I think his instructions for using a plain Weber Kettle are way off in terms of heat management, but you can’t argue with his results when followed for a WSM or offset smoker.  His book was my intro to low and slow, and for the entire first year of cooking this way, I did it all in a Weber Kettle …and boy did that experience make me appreciate my WSM!

Myron Mason ….can’t recommend this guy.  High on ego, short on brainz (sorry if that offends), can’t quit referring to his hind quarters… I threw his book away.


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