Cooking Techniques

Brine Me Beautiful

A Brine can be recognized as an array of different solutions such as a pickling liquid, a cure, or a type of preservative; each used with the similar intentions of developing and improving quality.

The Science

Every living organism in every form of life is made up of billions and gazillions of Cells. These cells are all individually created having properties to create the makeup of an organism. To brine an object is to denature that object through the process of osmosis; The introduction of water and salt to hydrate the cells of said object more so than normal, resulting in a moist and juicy end product. The salt acts as a missionary in the brine by increasing the salinity of the original cells and coaxing them to then absorb more water and become full; all before denaturing the proteins in the cell, causing them to coagulate and trap the water within the walls. Now take this brine a step further and add flavors and you have the recipe for creating a superior, lush product.

The Romance

The secret to a great brine is nothing more than utter perfection. You need to have the perfect amount of water to the perfect amount of salt combined with the perfect blend of herbs and spices, perfectly hot, then perfectly chilled. You need to have your protein perfectly submerged in a brine for the perfect amount of time and perfectly cooked for a perfect dish. Now, having the perfect explanation for a brine, let me introduce to you a simple way of turning an ordinary piece of meat into an extraordinary meal. Merely brine your protein.

The Recipe

Water 2 qt

Salt ¾ cup

Brown Sugar 1/3 cup

Black Peppercorns ½ tsp

Garlic 2 cloves

Rosemary 2 sprigs

Bay leaf 2 ea

The idea of A perfect brine is a bit overwhelming, and in reality it is quite simple to master (and if you do seem to over season the brine or leave it to soak for too long, there are ways of fixing the mistake such as soaking the protein in a water bath to leech out the salt.) I use hot water from the faucet, it seems to be the perfect temp to dissolve all of the salt and sugar as well as warm enough to extract the flavors from the herbs and garlic. I then add everything into the water and whisk until the liquid is golden and clear as water. I place the brine in the refrigerator until nice and cold before use. I have found that soaking a Fat Chicken Breast for four hours is the optimum time for the best flavor, although you can defiantly taste a difference after only two hours. The end product finishes as a rich, moist, herbal piece of meat, the sugars caramelize once the meat hits the pan creating a beautiful skin on the animal.

The beauty in this recipe, is it’s versatility. This recipe Works very good with Wild Game (i.e. Pheasant or Turkey), Chicken, as well as a great brine for Pork. A brine time, is the most important variable that you need to define, how long a piece of protein needs to soak depending on size and salinity of the brine. There are many references available to help determine to proper brine times, but nothing matches experience and personal preference. I have looked into brining beef (mostly to optimize flavor in braised beef in particular) , and every thing I read links the process to Corned beef, which is more of a pickled beef. Perhaps soon, I will look into the benefits of brining Beef. A brine is a simple and easy technique to produce a delicious product and maximize flavor potentials.

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