Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An Ode To Brining

Brining has become my new favorite way to impart flavor and moisture to things. So much of the meat we get today is devoid of fat because of the anti-fat Gestapo. As a result the meat when cooked is dry, tasteless and tough because fat is what moisturizes, gives flavor, and tenderizes meat. This is especially true for such popular standbys as boneless, skinless, tasteless chicken breasts and boneless, fatless, rubbery pork loin chops.

But the magic of brining allows one to impart both moisture and flavor without any fat or oil. It is the result of an osmotic reaction (look it up) that causes the water on the outside of the meat to be carried into the meat. This also acts as a highway for bringing in other flavors. After initially only doing this for turkeys (in an attempt to get a moist white meat component), I expanded it to roasted chicken. Recently I've been doing all kinds of things.

When I did my smoking a couple of weeks ago I brined both my chickens and my pork shoulder adding my BBQ rub to the brine as the flavoring.  I've used fresh herbs and garlic, Indian spice mixtures, basically anything I would use in an oil/acid marinade. I find with the brining that the flavor penetrates deeper into the meat faster and results in a more subtle flavoring.

The proportions for the brine I found on line were a cup each of salt and sugar (the sugar is optional) for a gallon of water. But that made things much saltier than I wanted. So I'm down to about 2/3rds of a cup of each. I use the same proportions if I'm making a smaller amount. You brine for approximately 1 hour per pound so if I'm doing cut up chicken breast for a kebob over the fire as I did last weekend, I might have it in the brine for 1 1/2 hours.

Two things on my list to try are vegetables that will be grilled over the fire and fish - particularly the kind of white fish that is subtle in flavor at best and when you get it frozen (we're not exactly a Mecca of fresh fish in NM) are usually tasteless.

1 comment:

alexis said...

see here is another awesome meal you could make that is super easy, low-energy demand, that your friends would love to eat. You don't need to do more than serve chips and guac before it, put out some bread mom baked (surely you have stuff in the freezer) and a salad - dinner is on. Easy. Everything goes in the washing machine and if you've grilled there is no pan to wash up for the meats or veg. And you are still showing off creativity, skills, and flavors.

(I actually have no idea about the grill part, lol, perhaps there is some clean up).