Monday, April 23, 2012

Brine is My Friend - And Yours Too!

Let's talk a little bit about brining meat, shall we?

Back in 2006, I posted quite a bit about brining turkeys, but have since found a much easier way to do so. Dry brining has to be the the most brilliant thing to ever happen to a piece of meat or poultry. Makes for a moist, tender final product.

So on my meat recipes, I will always note if I have brined the meat, because it impacts how much salt you'll want to add to the rest of the recipe.

Wet Brine 
There are two ways to do a wet brine.
Slow Brine: Dissolve a lesser amount of salt in water, good if you have a longer time to let it sit.
Quick Brine: Higher amount of salt in the water, especially good for if you need the meat quickly.

Either way, when you're ready to cook, you need to rinse the brine off before cooking the meat.

Dry Brine
Place meat in bag, add salt, leave it alone until you're ready to cook.

Much easier, and much less messy.

You do NOT need to rinse the salt off of this meat before cooking.

Essentially, you are putting the salt on the meat and allowing it to draw the moisture out, then allowing the meat to reabsorb the moisture. Ideally, this is a three day process. Remember, salt helps preserve the meat, so you don't need to be concerned about raw meat in the fridge for three days.

For a turkey, roaster bags work wonderfully for the brining process (though you don't need the bag for roasting!) You can start the process when the turkey is still frozen, but it tends to take longer than three days, so plan accordingly.

When we bring a package of meat home, we divide it up into large tip-top plastic bags, and sprinkle it with kosher sea salt. When you're doing a turkey, it's a tablespoon of salt per five pounds of meat. When I'm working with smaller amounts, I kind of eye-ball it. A teaspoon or two of salt per bag. If we're eating it in the next 24 hours, I leave it in the fridge. If not, I throw it in the freezer as is, and it will brine as it thaws.

Brined meat tends to cook faster, so you'll want to check it a little sooner, and possibly lower your cooking temp.

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