Brined Vs. Un-Brined Chickens: A Taste Off!

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by rivet, Jun 7, 2009.

  1. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Okay folks, decided to take the plunge and for once and for all put the brining issue to a rest~ in my mind at least.

    For the record, I have never brined anything before, and never thought to or wanted to, until I became a member of the SMF and met such a fine and large group of "briners", who swear by it.

    So, in good spirit and open mind, curious to see what all the fuss is about, I decided to conduct a taste-off and compare two identical chickens- one brined, the other not-brined.

    Four people, two men and two women are the evaluators, myself and my wife being half the group. None of us in the panel have ever knowingly eaten brined chicken, nor do we brine them. All of us curious to see if there is a difference.

    To start, two identical MBA Brand "Air Chilled Smart Chicken". Why? Because they are air-chilled after slaughter instead of being chilled in a chlorinated tank of water and thus, do not pick up the 6% or so, of added water weight. The "Smart Chicken" will not be pre-loaded with moisture, and thus will pick up as much brine as possible, making the test as even as it can be.

    Thanks to SUMOSMOKE, she passed on to me an excellent standardized brine she uses herself, passed down from TRAVCOMAN45. I used this to brine one chicken for 24 hours-

    The next day, I rinsed both well, and placed a bamboo chopstick into the cavity of the brined bird to keep them identified-

    Both birds smoked "nekkid". Nothing else added, no salt, pepper etcetera. Nothing to interfere with the taste-which is what we are evaluating. Into the SnP at 325F burning applewood-

    At about halftime (1 and 1/2 hrs) I rotated them 180 degrees-

    Roughly 3 hours later, they are done. Onto the cutting board for the centerfold pic!-

    Split each in half to evaluate doneness, interior looks and overall appearance. No difference between the two visible. The brined one is closest to camera-

    Each half plated to be taste-tested. At this point it is the first time my wife saw the birds; she did not know which one was brined.-

    Sliced them up to evaluate meat and appearance-

    They both tasted awesome! here's the wreckage after the review and scorecards filled out-

    So which one won? Which one was better?

    Don't know yet. Still have two "disinterested, third-party" taste testers from work who have willingly volunteered themselves to taste my cookin' !

    We have "AL", a Process Engineer, and "KELLIE" the Continuous Improvement Manager, selflessly going to taste test the chicken tomorrow for lunch at work.

    Stay tuned for the results! Stay tuned for the final tally! Is brining better? Does brining REALLY make a difference?

    Tomorrow I will post the final results!
  2. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    looks like a good, blind taste test! looking forward to results!
  3. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Was a really good idea to find out how much you may or may not have liked it.
    Did some chicken yesterday, in marinade for 4 hours and didn't brine and I wish I had, personal preference though. Any chance of posting or linking the brine recipe, or is it more secret...
    Always love trying out new brines.
  4. slanted88

    slanted88 Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I use Tip's Slaughterhouse recipe. Make sure you use a non-reactive container.
  5. davenh

    davenh Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    It will be interesting to see which they all went for. I do a couple yardbirds almost every weekend and don't brine. For juiciness, whole chickens don't need it if you pull at 165.

    On the other hand, I would agree you can add more flavor with a brine. Salt is a very tasty seasoning and brining puts plenty of that in the bird, to the tune of 500~600 mg sodium per 4 oz serving. If you eat like I do, 4 oz isn't going to cut it. So multiply that number by 3 at least, my high blood pressure make that a no no. Another thing to concider in the brine vs no brine debate.
  6. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    FiU, be glad to share, but Sumosmoke passed it on to me for the taste-test. Not sure if it public or not, so I'd say PM her or Travcoman45 and ask them.

    Don't mean to be stingy, but I'd rather be careful with stuff that doesn't belong to me.

    I'm sure they'll share it!
  7. travcoman45

    travcoman45 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Here ya go, sure ain't no secret, just tastey!

    Slaughterhouse Poultry Brine By Tip Piper of Hillbilly Vittles
    1 ½ Gal Water
    ½ C Salt - Kosher
    ½ C Dark Brown Sugar
    2 tsp Garlic Powder
    2 tsp Onion Powder
    2 tsp Cajun Spice (Louisiana Cajun Seasoning)
    2 tsp Celery Seed

    Slaughterhouse Poultry Injection
    ½ Pkg Good Seasons Italian Dressing
    2 tsp Garlic Powder
    2 tsp Celery Seed
    2 TBS melted Butter (non salted)
    2 C Apple Cider

    Slaughterhouse Spritz (Good fer everthin!)
    8 oz Apple Cider
    6 oz Water
    4 oz Whiskey
    2 oz Cider Vinegar
  8. countrysmoked

    countrysmoked Smoke Blower

    Great test, looking forward for the results. I may evan have to try a bird without brine if that one wins. Great Qview. Thanks

  9. cajunsmoke13

    cajunsmoke13 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Great test Rivet. Been wondering myself. By the way, the birds look awesome. Nice job
  10. cheech

    cheech Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I wish I had read this tomorrow so that I would not have to wait for the results, however I think I know the answer or at least what I think it would be.
  11. isutroutbum

    isutroutbum Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Great blind taste test Rivet. This is a cool idea! Plus, the birds look great. Cannot wait for the results.

    Also, travcoman45 - thanks for posting all those recipes!! I'm definately printing this out!

  12. sumosmoke

    sumosmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Excellent experiment! I think it was best you used the chickens that didn't have the added liquid as you probably did get the best result in the brining procedure.

    Your friends at work will surely enjoy the grub they're about to eat. Don't be surprised if their decision is undecided and "may need some more" to make an honest decision. [​IMG][​IMG]
  13. wutang

    wutang Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Looks great Rivet. It won't let me give you points but this experiment is definately worth it. Good job coming in with an open mind and nice work on the scientific side of the experiment.
  14. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey Rivet, you think like I do...sounds and looks like you're right on track for an un-biased taste trial. Interesting how you're getting outside (3rd party) opinions as well.

    I've been thinking about doing some brining for several months, and never have yet, so I'll be anxiously awaiting the results.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  15. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Just to play Devil's Advocate, being I never brine Poultry, one bird gets brined in spices and the other non brined bird gets nothing. And how is this a fair taste comparison [​IMG]
  16. coyote-1

    coyote-1 Smoking Fanatic

    Yep, I was wondering the same thing. Though it could happen that the smoke simply overpowers everything else.
    But I'd think moisture retention would be part of the reason for brining. My wife brined the three chickens I did Saturday, and they were definitely moister (especially the skin) than the birds I did a few weeks ago.
  17. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I guess we must have real moist chickens here as my wife wants her chicken DONE!!! No 165º, no 170º. I have to get towards 180º. I usually go to 165º, then onto the gasser to finish them up.

    Still looks plenty juicy to me. [​IMG]
  18. coyote-1

    coyote-1 Smoking Fanatic

    Looks awesome!

    The ones I did a few weeks ago were an experiment. Often you hear "don't life the cover, you don't need to mop" so I tried that. The chicken was flavorful and the meat was pretty moist but the skin was leathery-tough.

    So this time, I put water and beer in the drip pans and mopped the chickens every half-hour or so. I'll never forego mopping again!
  19. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Unless you can smoke towards the 325º range, your skin will be leather tough. That's why the transfer to a hot grill for a bit.

    Just out of the smoker.

    And after the grill. I just use a rub, then spritz with a 50/50 mix of canola oil and lemon.
  20. herkysprings

    herkysprings Smoking Fanatic

    Smoke skinless!

    Get Chicken Bark!

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