GB and IronChef are excellent cooks, and know their stuff. I pretty much accept what they say as fact.
A brine is a solution made with sugar and water. It works from a process called asmosis. That is, all things in nature try to distribute themselves equally within a given space. So, the liquid found in the various cells of the meat, skin, etc., have a specific concentration of sugars and salts, along with other substances naturally. If you place the chicken pieces into a brine solution that has a higher concentration of those substances and compounds, over time, the molecules will migrate from the greater concentration into the areas with a lesser concentration until all elements are distributed equally. This is called movement or migration due to osmotic pressure.
Water is another element in a brine. If the chciken meat is somewhat dried out, water molecules will migrate into the chicken at the cellular level until equilibreum is reached, hence, jucier chicken. However, if the chicken is already saturated with water (which it usually is, so as to make it heavier and fetch more money at the cash register), then brining won't add additional liquid to the chicken.
marinating liquids often contain acidic agents such as vinager, wine, or citrus. When long, straight strands of protien fiber contact acidic ingredients, they snarl up into tight, waterproof strands that inhibit the marinade from penetrating beyond the outermost layer of the meat. This happens in a relatively short time, about 20 minutes. So, acidic marinades don't do anything to add flavor or moisture after 20 minutes, even if you leave the chicken in them for a week. Marinades are used to flavor the exterior of meats, not to tenderize or add flavor deep into the meat. In fact, acidic marinades acutally toughen the meat.
The other two ways to add flavor to chicken, or any other meat, are either to inject the meat with flavor-rich broths or liquids, again allowing them to distribute the various flavors, salts, sugars, herbs and spices, etc. through the meat by osmosis over time, or to coat the meat is some form of dry rub, which again allows the various componants to distribute some of their molecular componants through the meat, again by osmotic pressure.
Whic is perfect for what you are trying to do? That depends on how you will cook the chicken, and the end result you are trying to achieve. When you conceptualize the processes involved with each technique, you will develop an intuitive knowledge of what to add, and why.
I know this was lengthy, but I hope it helps you to better understand the differences between marinades, brines, rubs, and injection techniques.
Seeeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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