Easy Chicken Wing Brine Recipe
If the world of food had a class system based on excellence, brined poultry would be an aristocrat. Nevertheless, however much pleasure this fare may give the consumer, the prospective cook often feels the same amount of fear. To the novice, it is an intimidating venture.
Not only do you have to know how to use a brine, but you first have to know how to make it. Where do you begin? What ingredients do you choose? How do you put them together? There are so many variables that it can be discouraging to try to align them to produce a tasty result.
Of course, you can follow a recipe, but following a recipe will not make you a master of the art of brining. You need to know the reasons for the directions and the guiding principles of the process.
While a recipe is very necessary for a beginner, I want to boost you out of the beginner level quickly by showing you what is behind the very easy chicken wing brine recipe I have to offer you. It is my hope that you can gain the confidence not only to follow the recipe, but also to create your own.
What You Will Need For This Recipe
- Chicken wings
- Water or other liquid. A brine is a very easily altered solution. To adjust the flavor of your meat, use another liquid to replace part or all of the water. Fruit juice, vinegar, wine, and beer are options worth considering. The choice depends on the flavor you want. You may need to experiment to figure out just the right ingredients and proportions.
- Salt. You can use table or kosher salt, but whichever you choose, ascertain that it is free of additives in order to produce the purest brine possible. Since it does not contain iodine or anything to keep it from forming clumps, kosher salt is often the best choice.
- Refrigerator or other means of chilling
- Container for brining. It is unimportant what you use as long as it is made of a substance that will not corrode. If you use plastic, crockery, stainless steel, or a resealable bag, you should be safe.
- Weight, such as a plate, to keep meat under the surface of the brine
- Seasoning: sugar, black pepper, white pepper, red pepper flakes. You can easily switch out these ingredients for other herbs, spices, or even vegetables. As with the liquids, what you use depends on the flavor you want your meat to have. Brown sugar, peppercorns, and allspice are popular choices.
The Reasoning and the Recipe
Step 1: Determine the amount of liquid you need.
How much liquid you use depends on your meat. With your wings in a bowl, cover them with water and then increase the depth by three inches. At this point, you are simply taking measurements, so after you have properly filled your bowl, pour the water into measuring cups, record the amount, and then dispose of the water.
Recipe: For 3 pounds of chicken wings, you need approximately 6 ¼ cups of liquid.
Step 2: Compute the necessary quantity of salt.
The basic ratio of salt to water is 1:16, but the kind of salt you choose will determine the exact amount. Table salt is of a different crystal size from kosher salt, so your calculations will be most accurate if they are based on weight rather than volume.
1 cup of table salt, the standard quantity per gallon of liquid, contains approximately double the weight of 1 cup of kosher salt. To ensure you are not under- or over-salting your brine, you can use the weight of the cup of table salt, approximately 10 ounces, to measure the proper amount of kosher salt. If you use 10 ounces of kosher salt per gallon, you can be certain your level of saltiness is correct.
Recipe: If your liquid measures 6 ¼ cups, you want ⅓ cup of table salt or ½ cup of kosher salt.
Step 3: Dissolve the salt.
Now that you know the amount of liquid you need to brine your meat, measure out enough to dissolve your salt. After bringing it to a boil, pour in the salt. If you are using sugar, add it as well, and stir the mixture until the solids are dissolved.
Recipe: When creating the brine for your chicken wings, dissolve your salt and ⅓ cup of white sugar.
Pro tip: To achieve nicely browned skin on your chicken when cooking, include sugar in your brine.
Step 4: Complete the brine.
At this point, it is time to add any spices or herbs you wish to include in your brine.
Recipe: Mix ¼ cup of red pepper flakes and ¼ cup of white vinegar. Pour this blend, 2 tablespoons of black pepper, and 1 tablespoon of white pepper into the salt and sugar solution.
Now add your remaining liquid. Since the aim is to prevent the brine from cooking the chicken, it must be cold before you add your meat. To accomplish this, you can chill the liquid before adding it, or you can complete the brine and then chill it in the refrigerator.
Recipe: Add sufficient cold water to equal 6 ¼ cups liquid total.
Once you have chilled your brine, stir in any other ingredients you wish, such as fruit and vegetables.
Pro tip: Follow a recipe for a rub to create a perfect seasoning blend for the brine.
Step 5: Brine the chicken wings.
Once the rub is cold, add your chicken wings. Be careful to allow no part of the chicken to rise above the surface of the brine. If necessary, use a plate to weigh the meat down.
Place your container with the brine and the meat in the refrigerator and leave it there until the brining process is complete. On average, brining takes one hour per pound, with this amount increasing or decreasing depending on the thickness of the meat. One factor to include in calculating the brining time is the acidity of your liquid. If you use anything acidic, shorten the time to avoid causing your meat to disintegrate.
Recipe: Brine your wings for two to four hours.
Step 6: Prepare the chicken wings for cooking.
When the brining is finished, separate your meat from the brine and give it a careful rinse. Dry it gently and cook it by any method that uses dry heat, such as grilling, roasting, or baking. You can further season the meat if you wish, either before or after cooking, but brined meat stands well on its own.
Pro tip: Dry your brined chicken wings overnight on a rack in the refrigerator to help the skin become crisp when cooking.
Are you eager to grab the chicken and the salt and start to work? Now that you know the general principles of brining, you can enjoy the freedom of creativity and experimentation to produce a dish exactly to your taste.
While you may feel most comfortable starting with a recipe, your new understanding of the process will remove the chains of the written word and open the way to the innovations and alterations which make the product specially yours. Share your thoughts, ideas, and inspirations with us in the comments section below, and pass this article on to the budding chefs in your life.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does it Take to Brine Chicken Wings?
Chicken wings should stay in the brine for two to four hours. If you brine them for less time, they won’t be able to absorb all of the salt and become as juicy as possible. If you bring them for more time, they might become too salty.
Can You Bake Chicken Wings?
Yes, chicken wings can be baked, fried, grilled, or smoked. Baking chicken wings at a very high temperature (such as 450 degrees to 500 degrees) will create the crispiest skin on your chicken wings.
What Temperature Do You Cook Chicken Wings?
Like other poultry products, the safest temperature to cook chicken wings is to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. This will reduce your risk of salmonella and other food borne illnesses.
Should You Sauce Chicken Wings Before or After They Are Cooked?
Since chicken wings take some time to cook, it is best to sauce them near the end of the cooking process. Sauces that are heavy with sugar can burn as the wings cook. You can toss the wings in the sauce once they are completely finished cooking, or you can baste them in the last 10 or 15 minutes of cooking.
How Do You Make Really Crispy Chicken Wings?
There are a few steps you should take to make crispy skinned chicken wings. The first is to pat the chicken completely dry before cooking. If you can, place the chicken wings on a wire rack so they have complete air circulation and let them air dry. Next, cook the chicken at a very high temperature to render the fat from under the skin, which will result in the crispiest wing.