Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.
Friday, August 24, 2012
Out of the Pickle Juice (and into the Fryer)
It was that way the first time I was pregnant. I've been told it was a shift in my focus that made the difference but I promise you there had never been quite so many disposable diaper commercials on television until shortly after we discovered we'd be entering the realm of parenthood.
Suddenly diaper commercials were on every five minutes, punctuating every genre on every channel.
It has been that same way more recently with brining. The technique, once garnering the rare mention each year when it became time to Talk about Turkey, is now being suggested to bring an extra punch of flavor to all sorts of proteins allowing them to be cooked without drying out.
What got my attention, really made me sit up and take notice, was when folks started talking about using the juice leftover from jars of commercially sold dill pickles as brine. I'd always poured that pickle brine down the drain, rinsed and tossed the jar into the "Glass" bin and that was that.
But saving the brine from the pickles to use with chicken? Talk about recycling!
I combined the juices from both jars to assure I'd have quantity. I was planning on making fried chicken strips, a long time family favorite.
I put two whole skinless boneless chicken breasts, split into halves (so four pieces total) in a container, covered them with pickle brine, and let that sit in the refrigerator overnight. After an overnight soaking the surface of the chicken picked up the slightest tinge of green from the brine. Hoping that meant it had picked up flavor as well, I cut the chicken into strips and proceeded with my regular recipe.
Ooh la la! The differences are subtle but oh so positive. There is a hint of dill, a vinegary brightness that doesn't permeate any one bite but is rather a background boost to the overall flavor of the dish. The chicken itself was moist inside and crispy outside - a deliciously perfect one-two punch of fried chicken goodness.
I don't plan on using pickle juice for every brine from this day forward (not that that would be so horrible), but I will never again empty a jar of pickles without knowing there is still significant play left in that game. Substituting commercial pickle brine for home prepped brine is a ridiculously easy way to add an extra punch of flavor to your dishes. Try it and see!