Why brine?

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Marlingardener

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I'm always ready to try new techniques, but I also like to know what I'm doing and why.
What is the advantage of brining meats? Does it make the meat more tender, juicier, or tastier?
I hope y'all can explain this to me, and I'll give it a try.
 

Chief Longwind Of The North

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It depends on what you're brining. For instance, if making corned beef from a brisket, The bine is flavored with various herbs, and spices, all cooked into the brine solution. Everything in nature seeks to distribute itself equally. The salty brine is pulled into the meat tissue, and brings along both moisture, and the other flavors in the brine. A dry brine, or rub, does the same thing, but without pulling in added water.

Commercially purchased turkeys from the grocers are usually injected with a brine to increase weight, add flavor, and make a juicier bird. They really don't benefit from soaking in a brine. A fresh turkey will benefit from brining.

The disadvantage of brining is that it takes a few days for the brine to work. The brined food must be kept between 40 and 35 degrees to prevent spoilage for the entire process. Watertight coolers filled with ice are often used for this. Place the brine with the food into the cooler to completely cover. Add packets of ice. Check every 4 to 5 hours to make sure everything is cold. Add ice as needed.

Me, I make a brine/broth from the turkey neck, giblets, and livers, with added sage, onion, and garlic. After it's cooled, I use an injector to inject the meat all over inside the bird. Let it rest for 15 minutes, stuff the he cavity with aromatics, butter the skin, sometimes push compound butter under the skin, truss, and roast. I cook at 350' F. to an internal temp. of 150' F., with a tent of foil, shiny side out, over the breast meat. No need to baste a bird. The basing fluid simply rolls off of the skin, and back to the pan bottom. Basting also cools your oven, making for a longer cooking time.

When 150 is reached, remove the foil, and crank oven temp up to 430' F., and roast to an internal temp of 157'. Remove and let rest for 30 minutes. Your final temp needs to be 165' F. The temperature is read with the tip of your meat thermometer pierced through the thickest part of the breast meat to right next to the thigh/body joint, but not touching the bone.

For presentation, remove the legs, and wings and place on the sides of your serving platter. Remove both breast halves. Slice the beast sideways, against the grain for tender, succulent slices with skin on each slice. Place the breast halves between the legs, and wings. Remove the meat from the back. This is the best meat on the bird. I separate the drumsticks, and thighs, cutting the meat from the thighs so that the dark meat is available to any who want it.

This method also works over a divided bed of charcoal, with a drip pan half filled with water under the bird. I place chunks of smoking wood on the charcoal. The smoked turkeys are amazing just using my Webber Kettle. The liquid form the drip pan is used for gravy, or soups.

When carving, use a cutting board with a moat that surrounds the cutting surface. Use the accumulated juices to make your gravy. The turkey carcass makes an incredible soup.

A little more than you asked for; but perfect oven roasted, or smoked turkeys will be the reward. Oh, and stuffing/dressing is cooked in a casserole dish, never in the bird. Add broth and seasonings before adding raw egg so that you can taste, and adjust as required. For a change of pace, brown, and wild rice stuffing, with diced onion, sage, thyme, pepper, celery, giblets, and water chestnuts is delicious. The rice is cooked in turkey broth.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North


Hope this helps.
 
Last edited:

dragnlaw

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I have brined pork chops and chicken breasts. Even a short 15 or 20 minutes is enough to help keep the meat moist. I prefer 30 minutes or longer but in a pinch 20 will do.
I believe I got this from America's Test Kitchen (I think)... I use the same brine ratio for both the pork and chicken. (Well, I've just taken a quick look thru their site and Cooks Ills. can't find the article, hmmm).

I use a container large enough to generously hold the 2 chops or 2 breasts (I'm cooking for myself and sometimes a friend). Disolve 1 Tbsp kosher salt, heaping tsp sugar in enough water to allow the meat to move around. (double for 4, both ingredients, water and obviously the container.

But while I was browsing thru their sites I saw a neat article on brining Turkey - Use an extra large zip lock bag. One actually used for cloths. They found it works better than bags that are sold for brining. Has a flat bottom making it easier to add both brine and turkey plus a handle for getting it to the fridge. Takes up a lot less room than a large pail/bucket/tub. LOL go figure!
 

jennyema

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Brining will help keep your protein moist and juicy. It’s really only appropriate for poultry, pork and shrimp.

it absolutely does work.

But you need to use enough salt to make it work — one cup of kosher salt to a gallon of water for a wet brine. And you need to be careful not to overbrine.

There is both wet brining and dry brining. I’ve tried both over the past 25 years or so (it’s not a new technique) and I usually wet brine.

Here is a fabulous article that explains a lot: https://www.seriouseats.com/quick-and-dirty-guide-to-brining-turkey-chicken-thanksgiving
 

GotGarlic

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Just wanted to mention that this article includes instructions for both dry and wet brining. I prefer dry brining because it adds flavor but not water. To me, adding water to the meat dilutes its flavor too much.
 

dcSaute

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I'm always ready to try new techniques, but I also like to know what I'm doing and why.
What is the advantage of brining meats? Does it make the meat more tender, juicier, or tastier?
I hope y'all can explain this to me, and I'll give it a try.
don't go by indefinite ideas like spoons/cups.
use a 7.5% brine.

I put a large (enough) bowl on the scale,
plop in (example) the pork chops,
tare/zero the scale.
add water to cover - note the weight of water
remove the meat, add 7.5% salt by weight of the water.
stir to dissolve salt, add back meat, brine away....
 

taxlady

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Just wanted to mention that this article includes instructions for both dry and wet brining. I prefer dry brining because it adds flavor but not water. To me, adding water to the meat dilutes its flavor too much.
Did you forget the link to the article? I read it from where you shared the article in another thread. It's an excellent article.
 

GotGarlic

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Did you forget the link to the article? I read it from where you shared the article in another thread. It's an excellent article.
Sorry, I meant to respond to jennyema's post. I was referring to the article she posted above from Serious Eats. It may be the same one I posted before.
 

Marlingardener

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Aha, now I understand! I think I'll try brining pork chops and see how it goes.
Thank you all for explaining the process so clearly. A whole new cooking window may have just opened for me. Love the help one can get here.
 

Roll_Bones

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Just wanted to mention that this article includes instructions for both dry and wet brining. I prefer dry brining because it adds flavor but not water. To me, adding water to the meat dilutes its flavor too much.
To me a wet brine changes the texture of meat. A dry brine does not and imparts flavor as well.
 

taxlady

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Sorry, I meant to respond to jennyema's post. I was referring to the article she posted above from Serious Eats. It may be the same one I posted before.
I think you posted a different article about brining, also by Kenji. Didn't the article you posted include his experiments in brining with chicken breasts? I don't remember seeing that table of how much water in US and metric measure as well as how much salt in US volume measure and in grams for various sizes of turkey.
 

Marlingardener

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Well folks, you did it again! I brined a half chicken and we had it for dinner last night. Best chicken we've had for quite a while.
Thank you for the comments and help. I won't be brining every meat, but I'll certainly do it again from time to time.
 

taxlady

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Well folks, you did it again! I brined a half chicken and we had it for dinner last night. Best chicken we've had for quite a while.
Thank you for the comments and help. I won't be brining every meat, but I'll certainly do it again from time to time.
That's one of the reasons I love this forum. I also enjoy the company of the regulars and meeting the new folks, especially the ones who become regulars.

Please tell us more about the chicken. How did you brine it? In what ways did you think it was better? How did you cook it?
 

Badjak

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I quite often defrost frozen chicken in a brine & hot smoke in a weber smoky mountain. Works a dream, although the skin is not as crispy as when using higher heat
 

Marlingardener

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Taxlady, I used the proportions suggested by DcSaute, brined it for two hours, and grilled it inside on a cast iron grill pan. The chicken was more moist, and not salty at all.
Badjak, I love that idea of thawing in brine. I'll try that, too!
 

JohnDB

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I quite often defrost frozen chicken in a brine & hot smoke in a weber smoky mountain. Works a dream, although the skin is not as crispy as when using higher heat
I actually use an "ice marinade" which of course is a brine for chicken barbecued in the park.

I don't use water or stock only the ice and salts like kosher and things like mustards and worcestershire sauce.

What happens is that the salts melt the ice but pull heat from the cold chicken actually freezing the meat with the brine in them. Then the cooking goes off just fine with the high heat of a picnic ground crummy grill. Skin is fine because of waterlogged and the meat is juicy and great.
 

thymeless

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Harold McGee makes an interesting point about brining changing the character of the meat into something the original isn't, specifically disliking the texture change.

For the cuts most often brined for home cooking, I think sous vide supplants the brine in providing a moist result while keeping flavor options more varied without the salt load. If you have sous vide equipment, I think it's easier overall than brining too.

I think brining has it's place still, for me mostly fried chicken or deeper into curing territory.
 

dcSaute

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"over brining" - usually blamed on too much brining time.....
has often been noted as turning (some - especially chicken) meat to a mushy texture.
I do 4-6 hours max for brining. the 'forget it overnight' scheme could be a culprit, tho.
pork I find benefits the most from brining, chicken/poultry less so.

chicken and beef I surface salt, allow to bead up then get absorbed ala' alt-Lopez.
that is imho less about "moisture" and more about "infused tasty stuff"
 

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