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Brining sounds simple enough, even if the chemical reactions aren’t. In fact the whole brining process is easy, the hardest part is, finding room in the fridge for the container with the brine and meat. Here are some easy tips and tricks for you. Now you too will know How to Brine.
You want to use the brine technique on everything?WAIT!! Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. You only want to use this technique on meats that are lean, dry, or have a tendency to come out dry. Not everything needs to be brined. The best meats for brining are:
Brine … well yes it is pickle juice, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Brine, in this case, is a solution of 5 to 8% salt dissolved in water. You can add any flavors that you like, juice, wine, beer, soy sauce, bay leaves, herbs, citrus, garlic, and/or peppercorns, however they don’t really add much to the flavor of your meal through the brine, especially if you have a recipe that requires you to rinse the meat after brining. If you want to add big flavor, add your favorite seasonings to the meal prior to cooking. Just go light on the salt if you add any at all.
Brining is a case where you want to be a little bit conscious of the measurements. This will avoid a meal that has been way over salted. Follow the chart below for a brief guide to brining mixtures.
Putting it all together is easy. Combine any dry ingredients in a container that is big enough to hold the amount of brine you need, as well as the meat you are brining. A bowl will be fine for breasts, chops and seafood, but you will want to consider a large brining bag or bucket for something bigger, like a whole turkey. Aim for something about double the volume of water you will be using. Dissolve the dry ingredients, particularly the salt, and any sugar you may have added, in hot water. Some brine recipes call for ice to cool the brine, some call for you to allow the water to come to room temperature. Make sure to follow the instructions of that particular recipe. Then add the meat. Refrigerate the meat in the brine until you are ready to cook.
The length of time you brine is largely dependent on the weight of the meat you are brining. One hour per pound of meat, until you get to larger cuts. A whole turkey can brine for 24 hours for up to 10 lb. birds all the way to 48 hours for 15 to 20+ pound birds. You may be thinking that the more you leave something in the brine, the more tender it will be, right? No. Because the salt breaks down the proteins in meat, there is a fine balance between perfectly brined and a pile of mush. The smaller the amount of meat, or more delicate – in the case of fish – the less time you want the meat to brine. Seafood is the most delicate, and only needs up to 30 minutes in the brine. Chicken breasts and pork chops only need about an hour, but turkeys and whole birds need a while longer.
Brining doesn’t have to be as complicated as applied physics. If you follow the tips below, you will find yourself with a beautifully brined bird, perfectly pickled pork chop, or sensuously seasoned seafood for dinner.
Now that you know about How to Brine, what are you going to grill for dinner?
Article first published on napoleongrills.com