Are you considering brining as a way of preparing meats before cooking? Here are some simple brining techniques to use on mild flavored, lean items such as pork, (roast, chops, or fresh ham) turkey, chicken, whole or whole sides of fish and whole shellfish. Soaking these items in brine can improve the flavor, texture, and tenderness of the meat.
Why would you brine? Brining helps lean meats hold-on to their natural juiciness producing moist, tender and succulent entrees.
Recipe for simple brine, per pound
1/4 cup salt
1 qt water
Gallon sized roasting bags or plastic bags. Turkey sized roasting bags are available at most grocery stores.
Twist ties or string to close bags
Large pot for making brine
Herbs, spices (If desired)
Sugar, molasses, brown sugar or honey (If desired for sweeter brine)
Mix enough brine for your product. Combine salt, sweetener, and water in a large pot. Stir well, completely dissolving salt and sugars. Pour brine over meat to completely cover, add herbs and spices to bag and close. Place in a large roasting pan and refrigerate. Leave in brine 1 hour per pound (at least 30 minute and never longer than 10 hours. (Except shellfish, brine 30 minutes.)
Brining will sometimes keep the skin of poultry from becoming crisp. To overcome this problem, allow poultry to air-dry in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours to dry the skin. You will not lose any moisture with this step but gain nice crisp, browned skin.
Beef does not usually need to be wet brined. Dry brines will work for most cuts, which have more fat content and are cooked to a lower internal temperature than pork, poultry and fish.
Dry brining will improve the texture of less tender cuts of beef, and enhance the tenderness and flavor of even the more tender cuts such as rib roasts and tenderloins. A layer of course salt will pull moisture from inside the meat up to the surface, releasing a lot of hidden flavor; sugars, citrus juices, herbs, spices, garlic and hot chilies can be added for even more flavor enhancement.
Kosher or coarse salt
Herbs, spices, sugars as desired
-Dry salt brined beef roast:
Sprinkle salt over outside of roast, do not covet, place on roasting rack and situate in refrigerator for 24 hours. Herbs, spices and sugars can be mixed with the salt before covering meat entirely with brine.
Allow meat to sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Pat the roast lightly with a kitchen towel to absorb any extra moisture that is there. Place roast in rack into a clean roasting pan and place into a hot 425oF oven. Roast meat until meat thermometer placed into thickest part of meat registers 130-135oF which is medium rare. Allow meat to sit undisturbed for 10-12 minutes before slicing.
Use drippings in the bottom of the roasting pan to make a sauce or gravy and serve with mashed potatoes, and all the trimmings.
Any lean mild flavored meats, whole fish such as large trout and salmon, shrimp and lobster lend themselves well to wet brining methods.
How long to brine before cooking?
-Shellfish 30 minutes
-Poultry, small birds and duck 6-8 hours
-Turkey 10-12 hours
-Pork roasts, fresh hams 12-24 hours
All brined items must be kept refrigerated or at 38-40oF.
Brining is a great way to bring flavor back into our modern day bland, quick-aged meats. Serve tender, savory old-fashioned beef, pork, poultry and seafood once more. If you try brining, you will love it and never look back!