What is Brining – preparation method for grilling or smoking complete guide
Brining is a simple process that keeps meat moist while it cooks and can also impart additional flavor. Most commonly used on chicken and turkey, it works well with any kind of meat or fish. It works especially well with foods that are easily overcooked and become dry or tough such as turkey, fish, shrimp and lean cuts of pork. It is less effective on beef, lamb, duck, and other fattier meats that are generally served rare or medium-rare and aren’t cooked to as high of an internal temperature.
All meat loses moisture and weight as it cooks, as much as 30%, but brining can reduce that to as little as 15%. Brining is basically soaking the meat in a salt water solution for as little as 30 minutes for shrimp or small pieces of fish, to several hours for a whole chicken or overnight for an entire turkey or other large cut of meat.
The solution creates a reaction called osmosis which actually draws moisture into the meat. Any added flavors to the brine mixture, such as wine, beer, fruit juice, apple cider, Worcestershire or Soy sauce, herbs, Cajun seasoning, etc. will also be drawn into the meat.
The salt also acts as a tenderizer, denaturing and breaking down the proteins of the muscle fiber. Don’t worry, the finished results will not be overly salty unless you brine for too long. While the sugar isn’t critical to the process, it does help as a flavor enhancer. If you do add sugar use equal amounts of salt and sugar. Brining is a great technique regardless of whether you grill, smoke or roast the meat in the oven, and it’s ideal for holiday turkey!
Here are some basic guidelines:
It’s best to use course Kosher or sea salt. If using fine grained table salt reduce amounts by 50%. You can brine in a large pot, plastic container, or a zip lock bag. Be sure the meat is completely submerged and refrigerate during the brining process. You may have to use a plate or other heavy object to keep the meat submerged.
In general use 2 cups of Kosher salt per gallon of water and 1 hour per pound of meat, adjusting accordingly. Use cold water, ideally ice water if brining seafood. For safety reasons, always discard the brine after use. Rinse the meat after brining and reduce or eliminate any additional salt called for in the recipe.
If cooking poultry, rinse the meat, pat dry, and set back in the refrigerator uncovered for at least several hours, ideally on a cooling rack so air can circulate around the entire bird. This will allow the meat to re-absorb the moisture in the skin ensuring a crispy brown crust. While brining can take some time, its quite simple and you can’t argue with the results!
|(1) technically the flesh of animals, mostly made of muscle, but it may include organs some people don't consider poultry or...||Salt/Water||Time|
|Whole Turkey||2 cups to 1 gallon||12-24 hours|
|Whole Chicken||1 cup to 1/2 gallon||4-6 hours|
|Shrimp (large, shell on)||1/2 cup to 1 pint||30 minutes|
|Fish||1/2 cup to 1 pint||10-20 minutes|
|Pork Chops/Ribs||1/2 cup to 1 quart||3-4 hours|