Why You Should Always Brine Your Chicken in Beer
Think beer-can chicken is silly? Even if you think it's absurd to cook a whole chicken upright, balanced on its legs and a can of beer, you have to admit that there's a certain logic to the method. Dousing the inside of your chicken with beer as it cooks adds great flavor.
But if you really want to maximize the juiciness of your bird while infusing it with the taste of your favorite brew, there's a better way: You want to brine it. In beer.
That's how they do it over at Marta, the newest restaurant from chef Nick Anderer and restaurateur Danny Meyer. Anderer has always been a fan of brining chicken before he grills it. "The sugar in the brine balances out the bitterness of the char," he says. He decided to add beer to the brine, basically, because it was within arm's reach: "that's what you're usually drinking when you're grilling anyway." Here are his five reasons why you should brine your chicken in beer:
You can make beer-brined chicken year-round.
Unlike beer-can chicken, it's easy to make beer-brined chicken without a grill, any time of year. All you need is a grill pan and a hot oven.
The chicken cooks faster (and stays juicy).Instead of leaving the chicken whole, Anderer cuts it into pieces so that it cooks faster. Bonus: the beer brine penetrates chicken pieces even more quickly than a whole bird, and protects it from drying out as it cooks. "Your brine is a way of giving yourself a buffer, and using chicken pieces ensures that every bite gets that sweet char," he says.
The brine adds great caramelization to the bird.
Anderer's brine contains sugar and beer, two ingredients that help create an intensely caramelized flavor as the chicken cooks. The flavors also complement each other. "The sugar balances out the bitterness of the char," says Anderer.
You don't need a fancy brew to make a great chicken.
"Subtle nuances are lost when you cook with beer," Anderer says. So follow his lead and use your favorite canned lager (Anderer and the Marta crew are fans of Narragansett lager).
It's exactly what you want to eat, right now. The smoky, beer-infused flavor of this chicken make this a perfect fall dinner, especially when you follow Anderer's lead and pair the dish with olive-oil whipped potatoes and sauteed greens.