Objective: To cure and bake chicken

Theory: Curing of meat is a food preservation method. In this method, a cure mix is applied to meat and allowed to penetrate the tissues. Application can be done by dry rub, immersion or injection. In this lab we are following the immersion method. Two primary ingredients in the cure mix are sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrates are reduced by bacteria to nitrites. Nitrites are converted to nitric oxide which reacts with myoglobin to form nitric oxide myoglobin (nitrosomyoglobin). When nitric oxide myoglobin is cooked, nitric oxide hemochrome (nitrosohemochrome) is formed which has a stable pink color. Apart from affecting the color, nitrates and nitrites also inhibit growth of Clostridium botulinum during smoking, and contributes a unique flavor.

Procedure

  1. In a large tote, prepare curing brine by adding 4 cups of Morton Sugar Cure to 2 gallons of water
  2. Add ½ pack spice from the Morton Sugar Cure bag
  3. Dissolve by mixing
  4. Add four whole chickens (approximately 6 lbs each that were previously washed) to the curing brine
  5. Allow to cure for 24 hours
  6. Remove from brine and rinse surface and cavities
  7. Pat dry with paper towel
  8. Cover top with vegetable (canola) oil and sprinkle lightly with desired spices to add color and added spicy flavor
  9. Base a baking sheet with fresh spices (onion, pepper, garlic tomato)
  10. Sprinkle quarter cup lime juice in chicken cavity and stuff some of the chopped fresh spices inside
  11. Bake at 350oF (177oC) for about 1 ½ hours
  12. The chicken is ready when it has reached an internal temperature of 165oF (74oC) at the thickest part of the meat (breast and thigh)
Courtney Simons
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Courtney Simons is a food science writer. He holds a BS degree in food science and a PhD in cereal science from North Dakota State University.
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