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Brining is not just for turkey.
Right around a certain holiday in November, much of the cooking population of America feels compelled to choose a side: to brine or not to brine. Heated arguments arise. Loyalties are forged and betrayed. It gets heavy. And not to bring drama into your springtime culinary rituals, but we’ve got news: Brining is not just for turkey. Chef Alexander Figura of Lower48 Kitchen in Denver, a recent contender for The People’s Best New Chef, is an ardent devotee of brining for that most humble of weeknight meals: the simple chicken breast. Here he shares his easy technique, guaranteed to create super-juicy meat.
10 1/2 cups cold water
1/2 cup salt
1 leek, cleaned and sliced
4 sprigs thyme
2 cloves garlic
1 lemon, halved
5 black peppercorns
Soak chicken breasts in the brine for 2 hours before cooking. Pat dry.
For cooks willing to take Figura's method to the next level, he’s also a fan of dry-aging, a technique many of us associate only with steak. After removing the chicken from the solution, Figura arranges it uncovered on drying racks in the refrigerator (preferably in front of the fan, if possible) for seven to 10 days. “It creates a tender, more succulent meat with a really crispy skin,” he says. “We’ve noticed that even if you overcook it, you still get a nice, moist chicken if you brine and then dry-age it.”