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

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

  1. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yeah, shouldn't eat the skin anyway......but I always gotta steal a taste [​IMG]
  2. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Well actually, Flash, this is exactly the fairest way, since I am evaluating the effect of the brining upon the chicken and nothing else. The brine either works or it doesn't.

    Good question you put and one folks may be asking.
  3. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Allrighty folks, the results are in!

    I will say that they are surprising, especially to me, and to some participants after being told the results of the test.

    However, I stand by my test and the results. Without further ado, let's get on with it!

    Al (the Engineer) and Kellie (the CI Manager) were presented with two identical "ziploc" brand food storage containers containing half a chicken each. Last night, when I put up the halves, I added 1/8 cup apple juice to each container, since I would be reheating them in a microwave, and didn't want dried out bird.

    Neither was told which was brined, and both Al and Kellie tasted samples from each container.

    Al's first statement was "this one tastes better" (and identified the brined one).

    Kellies first statement was "this one is softer" (and identified the brined one)

    After discussing and tasting further, both agreed one was softer and had a lightly different taste- one of spice- which they liked.

    They both picked the brined one.

    During this event, the guys I normally eat lunch with in the cafeteria had been eyeing this strange event and gathered. Four more particiapted in the experiment!

    All four identified one as tasting different, from the other, and described it as "tastier" or "with more flavor" than the other. All four tasters immediately pointed out one was "softer" than the other. All four identified this one as the brined one.

    My wife thought one of the samples tasted "chicken-nier" and that was the brined one. I could not tell one bit of difference in the taste. I immediately noticed the brined one was softer, and almost "mushy" to me. I am the only tester who described the brined chicken as mushy.

    So. What to make of this?

    I cannot go against 7 testers....apparently brining does impart a flavor to the birds that people like. I, for the life of me could not detect it. Are my tastebuds wearing out? [​IMG]

    Seven out of eight testers quickly identified the brined chicken as being "softer" or "more tender" than the other. My wife noted no difference.

    The conclusion is that yes, brining adds flavor and makes the birds more tender. So to all you briners out there, I concede that you all are correct! Rock on folks!

    There was considerable effort in re-arranging the fridge to accomodate the large pot with brine and bird overnight, so that is a negative for the whole process.

    Overall, when the process was described it was evenly split as to whether it was worth it or not. The flavor was improved, but not worth the hassle to half the group.

    Hope you enjoyed the test as much as I did!

    I'd like to thank SUMOSMOKE for enthusiasm for the test and providing TRAVCOMAN45's brine recipe to me. Also thanks to TASUNKAWITKO for the initial encouragement to actually do it.

    Of course, thanks to you all for reading the thread and replying. You all are what makes the Smoking Meat Forums the best!
  4. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Next you have to try comparing a brined bird to a beer butt bird.

    I brine chicken pieces, but have never done a whole bird. I think my beer butt chicken tastes better then the brined pieces. But then I never had them side by side either..

    Great thread, btw.
  5. cajunsmoke13

    cajunsmoke13 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks Rivet. Guess I need to try this brining thing on some yardbirds...
  6. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks Rivet,very interesting.I dont brine roasters-famoly doesnt like texture-but have done pieces.

    I will say for a fact that brining effects skin, which is important in comps etc, but we marinate-others swear by brining.Thanks.
  7. sumosmoke

    sumosmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great to see the final results, Riv. Really nice experiment!
  8. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    very interesting results, rivet ~ my wife has always complained of our chicken being "mushy" when i smoke them (they've all been brined up till yesterday). in fact, it was the major reason why she didn't want the bird on the smoker yesterday. over time, i'd been thinking that maybe the brining was resulting the the softer, almost mushy texture. it looks like this may have been confirmed.

    for the record, we did a chicken on the SnP yesterday nekkid as can be, including no smoke. the charcoal briquettes (sam's choice from wal-mart) appeared to have little chunks of wood in them, and this did apply justa little smoke aroma and just a bare whiff of taste. the chicken itself was diced up and went into a casserole. there were absolutely no complaints about over-smoked flavor and none about mushiness either, so between your results and my own findings, i ahve to conclude that brining does indeed result in a softer textrure that can be intepreted by some as mushy.

    excellent test! interesting results!
  9. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    And a well spiced Rotisserie bird will top them both. IMHO
    Sorry Rivet, I still think you should have atleast spiced the non brined bird with whatever spices were in the brine to make it "more equal". Again JMHO.
    I do tend to agree though, brinning takes up too much room, atleast in my case it does.
  10. mikey

    mikey Smoking Fanatic

    Interesting thread, Rivet. I've never brined a chicken, only 2 turkeys and they came fairly good. One thing to consider when having folks do a taste test is whether the testers are cigarette smokers or non-smokers. I know this has an affect on tastebuds. As a suggestion so you don't have to rearrange everything in the fridge, is I use a 5 gal bucket, ie: place my turkey in the brine leaving a bit of room for about 7-10 lbs of ice and put the lid on it. I just leave it in the kitchen. No rearranging needed.
  11. coyote-1

    coyote-1 Smoking Fanatic

    It is tips like this that make this place worthwhile.Next time the fridge is out of room and I need to brine or something, the bucket it is!

    Thank you kindly.
  12. Rivet - fab - rep points to you.[​IMG]

    I brine my turkeys - Alton Brown does a great job explaining the science behind brining - check it out on Hulu or watch the show live. I do turkeys, never chicken - but I will start thanks to you. [​IMG]

    Going naked? I would also say that I feed tons of people at a time at festivals we host... I used to pull the skin back on the L/T quarters, rub with yellow glue and dry rub, then fold the skin back - sheesh, I am tired already.

    I forgot the mustard one fest and just sprinkled with Adobo with pepper (in the adobo) - and the people said, what did you do? It is better than the last time - never thought it was possible, but it is. so now we just shake Adobo on our "nekked" chicken and roll.

    It is available in the Mexican section of any grocery store. We love it and it is a contrast between that and the ribs/etc.

    again, thank you [​IMG]
  13. farnsworth

    farnsworth Fire Starter

    Much appreciated for your own experimentation and for all the lively discussion it brought out . Points!

  14. Thanks for the blind taste test. I never thought to do that.
    I have been brining turkeys for years overnight in a 10 gallon cooler. It takes 3 turkeys for Thanksgiving!!!!
    (the entire family comes for that day)
    It is rare that any turkey is left over. The brine I use changes every year. Last year, I put an entire can of 'old bay' in the brine along with a quart of chicken stock.
    Add some ice, put it on the screen porch overnight, start the fire at 9 Am, eat by 2 PM.
  15. bassman

    bassman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I don't really care for "mushy" texture. I will continue to forego the brining process as I don't think it's needed (for me). Thanks for the test.
  16. dasmoker

    dasmoker Smoke Blower

    Yep. I brine my Turkey at Thanksgiving. I bought a round kitchen trashcan, that I only use for brining. I line it with a trashbag. I put the brine in, and then the bird, then pack ziplock freezer bags with ice, and fill the top of the can with as many ice bags as I can fit in there. Does a nice job for overnight brining.
  17. isutroutbum

    isutroutbum Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Way to brine!!!!!! [​IMG]

    Great experiment! Thanks for all the work it had to have taken.


  18. grothe

    grothe Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great job on the brine test...thanks for the results...[​IMG]
  19. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Are trashbags food safe?
  20. waysideranch

    waysideranch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I use the turkey frying pot that came with my deep fryer. It works great and no liner bags needed. Nice job Rivet.

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