Brining is a process similar to marination in which meat or poultry is soaked in brine before cooking. Brine is a mixture of salt and water. Salt is added to cold water in a container, where the meat is soaked anywhere from 30 minutes to a few days. The amount of time needed to brine depends on the size of the meat. More time is needed for a large turkey compared to a broiler fryer chicken. Similarly with a large roast versus a thin cut of meat (Wikipedia, nd).
Difficulty to learn: Medium
Ideas For Ingredients To Use:
Brining is typically associated with Thanksgiving and the big turkey, but in theory, brining can be used with any meats that you want to keep moist. This technique is especially useful for meats that tend to dry out during the cooking process. Turkey, chicken, or even ham are all great meats to use for brining.
What You Will Need:
- Salt (Kosher or Sea Salt)
- Sugar (to sweeten if you want)
- Various spices and seasonings
- A large bowl, big enough to fit what you are brining
- Spoon, to stir
- You will want to stick to a general ratio of 4 tablespoons of salt per 1 quart (4 cups) of water. This will allow for a typical brine, but feel free to switch the ratio up as you see fit.
- Dissolve the proper amount of salt in the amount of water you need to completely submerge your meat in your bowl.
- Add your meat. If the top of the meat pokes out, add some more brine solution to top if off to ensure consistent brine.
- Add your spices and seasonings. The amount you use, and type, are completely up to you. Be creative, or stick to the traditional! Pro tip: Adding a small amount of sugar to the brine will make your dish sweeter, good for pork or ham. Making a Thanksgiving turkey? Consider what other seasonings you are using in your dishes and add that to your brine.
- Depending on the size of your meat, soak time will vary. For a larger meat like a turkey, overnight (12 hours) is a good bet for soaking. Smaller dishes like a few pieces of chicken can be ready in a little as 1/2 an hour.
- When the soak is finished, pour your brine away and get ready to cook your meat! That wasn’t so hard, was it?
Tips For You:
- Brining works better when you are preparing a meat dry, such as over flame or grilling. When braising or poaching in liquids, the results are not as noticeable.
- Don’t limit yourself to seasoning your brine, but don’t use too much seasoning either. Finding the right balance might take a few tries, but you won’t forget when the magic ratio is finally found.
Some Links To Help With Preparation: