I have cooked many a dry, bland chicken breast in my time. In fact, chicken breast cookery is so challenging that I’ve considered giving up on the cut altogether. But then I learned about one simple step that promises juicy, delicious chicken breasts: brining.
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Simply put, brining your chicken for just half an hour allows the salt to permeate the surface of the meat and make it more seasoned throughout. It also changes the protein structure of the meat, which allows the chicken to retain more water—meaning juicy, tender results.
Maybe you don’t believe me—or maybe you don’t think adding an extra 30-minute step before cooking is worth it. So why not try turning your kitchen into a lab and taste-testing the results for yourself? This experiment, which comes from The Complete Cookbook for Young Scientists, is the perfect activity to do with the curious and culinary-minded kids in your life. Make a couple chicken breasts with a brine and a couple without, and compare the results. Plus, get dinner out of the deal.
The Complete Cookbook for Young ScientistsThe latest book in the New York Times best-selling cookbook series for young chefs answers all the big food questions that kids have through fun and accessible experiments and doable, delicious recipes.
Brining Chicken Breasts Experiment
This recipe on the ATK Kids site for Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts with Chimichurri Sauce makes for both a delicious dinner and a learning experience. To turn the recipe into an experiment, brine only two of the chicken breasts. Then, after cooking but before adding the chimichurri sauce, slice one unbrined chicken breast and one brined chicken breast. Invite your family and friends to join you for a taste test—have the tasters keep their thoughts to themselves until everyone has finished tasting. Ask tasters:
- How would you describe the flavor of each type of chicken? Do they taste the same or different?
- How would you describe the texture of each type of chicken? Are they the same or different?