Seared

Beer + Chicken = Slammable Chicken

Cooking with beer can be easy — if you follow a few basic scientific laws.

I selected a recipe that uses beer in two separate stages:

First, it’s used for a brine, in which the chicken soaks overnight.

Next, another beer is used to baste the chicken while it roasts.

The alcohol plays a chemical role in the brining solution. Water and fat don’t mix, but fat and alcohol do.

The alcohol is able to penetrate the fat-rich meat and carry the brine flavor along with it.

The addition of beer — which can break down fat — in the brine enhances the flavors of the dish in ways that water alone wouldn’t.

I selected a pilsner beer with a label that described it as “easy to slam."

I grabbed a pack of pilsners and set out to make a slammable bird.

Alcohol has a boiling point of 173 degrees Fahrenheit, considerably lower than water’s boiling point of 212 degrees F.

If the dish is hotter than 173 degrees F, the alcohol will start to evaporate.

Adding beer after the brine has cooled ensures that the alcohol will bond with the herb flavors, ushering them into the meat during the chicken’s overnight bath.

The second beer is all about adding in the flavor of the brew itself.

Some of the more subtle beer flavors will be hard to detect if your chicken cooks for a long time. Less volatile tastes, like maltiness, might still be present in the final dish.

(The alcohol will be able to permeate the potatoes and Brussels sprouts as well.)

Basting a chicken with watery beer will not yield a bird with a cracker-like, shattering skin.

But by brining and basting a chicken with beer, you’re prioritizing meat that is flavored to the core over skin that cracks when you bite it.

For an even stronger beer flavor, introduce the beer later in the cooking process.

SEARED is an occasional series from INVERSE.

What makes food taste great isn't just the ingredients — it's what you do with them. We explore the chemical transformations that happen when you cook on the grill, or with beer, or in the kitchen, or over the campfire, all from a scientific point of view.

Read the entire article.

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