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Old 08-05-2008, 04:51 PM   #1
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To brine or not to brine

I am unclear on exactly what brine is and why is it needed? Is it a marinade? I guess you can tell by my post that I haven't ever brined anything.

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Old 08-05-2008, 05:07 PM   #2
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It serves two purposes. First, it adds flavor to meats by adding salt and other flavors. Second, it works to reduce moisture loss during cooking so meats don't dry out.
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Old 08-05-2008, 05:09 PM   #3
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A brine in its simplest terms is a saltwater solution. A marinade generally only penetrates the meat an eigth of an inch or so. A brine goes all the way through. A brine adds moisture (saltwater) inside the meat so you end up with a juicier product.
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Old 08-05-2008, 05:10 PM   #4
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Thanks. What sort of meats would I do this to? I have read about turkey but I was puzzled about chicken. Now this something I guess I will have to try to broaden my horizons.
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Old 08-05-2008, 05:13 PM   #5
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You typically brine low fat meats. Chicken, pork and turkey are the usual suspects.
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Old 08-05-2008, 05:17 PM   #6
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And how long would I leave the meat in the brine?
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Old 08-05-2008, 05:17 PM   #7
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Brining is a great source of flavor but mostly it is for "juiciness". I wouldn't call it a marinade - it is a brine. Water + salt = brine. Most people add brown sugar and sometimes that's all.

I use: apple juice, kosher salt, brown sugar, smashed garlic, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, lemons, limes, oranges, black peppercorns, and bay leaves.

EDITED TO SAY: I see others have given you the answer you need - I had to wait on customers! LOL
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Old 08-05-2008, 05:17 PM   #8
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...and soaking potatoes before roasting or frying is good, too.
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Old 08-05-2008, 05:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
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...and soaking potatoes before roasting or frying is good, too.
I definitely would not soak potatoes before frying - hot oil and water/liquid do NOT mix!
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Old 08-05-2008, 05:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
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I definitely would not soak potatoes before frying - hot oil and water/liquid do NOT mix!

I always soak my fries in water first to get some of the starch out, then dry them real well before frying.
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Old 08-05-2008, 05:47 PM   #11
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Actually, cut potatoes in water for 20-30 minutes improves the frying by removing some of the surface starch.

kitchenelf is right about moisture and frying. The potatoes MUST be completely dried off before frying.
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Old 08-05-2008, 06:20 PM   #12
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Actually, cut potatoes in water for 20-30 minutes improves the frying by removing some of the surface starch.

kitchenelf is right about moisture and frying. The potatoes MUST be completely dried off before frying.
I don't ever fry potatoes anymore, myself, but when soaking (then drying well) and roasting, they stay so moist inside and brown so beautifully on the outside; I do this with Yukons or red potatoes.
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Old 08-05-2008, 06:21 PM   #13
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And how long would I leave the meat in the brine?
It depends on the size of the meat. Chicken breasts I do for 2 hours, no longer than 3. A whole chicken I do for 5-6 hours.
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Old 09-12-2008, 01:02 AM   #14
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I brine chicken breasts in 1 qt water, 1/4 C Kosher salt and 1 Tbsp Brown sugar. Put in baggie and refrigerate. NOT for more than 1 hour! Great grilled or broiled.

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Old 09-12-2008, 07:59 AM   #15
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I'm with Kitchenelf. I add all sorts of flavorings to my brine, especially chicken. I usually brine and grill 10 lbs of chicken leg-and-thigh quarters at a time. I use 3 qt of water, 3/8 c salt, 3/8 c brown sugar, rosemary, thyme, sage, and garlic. But, I take 1 pint of the water, add the flavorings, bring it to a boil, then let it sit for a little while to steep and infuse the flavors. I'll add some ice and cold water to bring the brine to the volume I need, while chilling it so that I'm not storing chicken in a warm brine. I'll add the brine and the chicken to a non-reactive pan, and place it all in the refrigerator. 3 - 4 hours later, I fire up my grill and cook the chicken over medium-low coals for about 30 minutes. MMMMMMMMM!!!!!!! My family can't get enough of it!
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Old 11-11-2008, 06:28 PM   #16
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I never remember to brine before cooking! I forgot again today. Esp. with me having the day off, I would have brined my chicken breasts for a few hours before slow-roasting them for BBQ.

Oh well. At least the slow, low roasting usually keeps enough moisture in anyway.
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Old 11-11-2008, 06:49 PM   #17
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Brining is a great technique to ensure juicy poultry.

I always brine my turkey. I did a test run of a dry brined turkey this weekend. Ala the Zuni Cafe chicken.

It was good, but a bit messy. I think I'll stick to wet brine.

And Ekim, low and slow is a cooking technique for meats that are tough or have a lot of fat or connective tissue. Meats that are very lean and tender like chicken breasts are not very good candidates for low, slow cooking. They dry out that way. Chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, filet of beef, etc. do much better when they are cooked quickly with higher heat.
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