I just bought an eight quart, heavy duty restaurant container & lid to start wet brining pork and chicken. I bought it after spending about an hour reading up on the “how-tos” of brining. Did this because pork tenderloins and chops, and any portions of chicken done in our old and tired oven dry up to the consistency of loose leaf paper. (Never experience this when grilling on our Weber).
Do you wet brine?
Looking for successes, failures and tips with this thread.
Great topic. My grandmother brined all meats, including chicken before frying. Well-done was the only way she ever served meat dishes back in the day so the brining was key.
Other preps that I consider adjacent to a classic wet brine:
My butcher vacuum packs pork loin with herbs and oil, with a bacon strip on top. Marinated in this manner, the loin doesn’t dry out. On the reheat I slathered it with adobo paste and placed a few orange slices on top. Still moist.
In the summertime I have marinated pork chops in buttermilk before grilling. I’ve only done this a time or two, but I have a hunch there’s a good reason that pork in milk is a classic. Leftover buttermilk went to good use for coleslaw.
I have a feeling you’re gonna have fun with this brining thing.
Another one for pork. I have a quart of it in my freezer to reuse. I didn’t have juniper berries and I hate cloves so I left those out. I believe I added a splash of bourbon as suggested in some of the reviews.
I’ll make life easy on you Jim lol. Just use salt and call it a day with your brine. It took me a while to figure this out…like a decade. Complex brines can indeed infuse flavor but I rub and/or inject my meats after the brine. It works much better for me with much more pronounced flavor from the spices. Others will disagree but that the beauty of cooking. Do what works for you.
Mixing up a brine and playing mad scientist is a lot of fun, but the rewards just weren’t there for me. Furthermore, depending on what spices you use, they can add up very quickly. Hell, you can spend half the price of a turkey on spices for a brine. I learned salt is what I need to absorb water into the meat and that is my main goal with a brine. I brine turkey, duck, chicken, salmon, ribs, and pork shoulder (that is what I predominantly smoke.) There is a lot of fat in the shoulder so it kind of isn’t neccessary but water and salt are cheap so what the hell. It doesn’t hurt.
Just use a 5 gallon bucket for a turkey. As long as it doesn’t get too hot you are fine. Just leave it in your house and cover it with a towel so insects don’t get in. Dump premelted salt water in the water filled bucket and it can stay at room temp overnight easily. You are fine once you cook it. People freak out over germs but after learning some things from a survivalist, I have a new outlook on what the body can take and what it can’t. Trust me, a turkey sitting in super salty water overnight and not baking in the sun won’t hurt you once cooked… Doesn’t get much easier.
The main reason I’ve stayed away from wet brining is because of large containers taking up too much in the fridge and washing up of poultry and pork in said containers later on. Just seems like too much of a hassle to me. But I’ll keep my eye on this thread for new ideas that might change my mind.
Not germane to your question, but I’ve drifted from brines to dry rubs for poultry and meats. I lay out a length of saran, shower with salt and cracked pepper, douse with EVOO, and lay down the protein. Usually drop on sliced garlic and sprigs of fresh thyme, wrap up and refrigerate overnight.
I have only wet-brined when the weather is cold enough for the container to stay in an unheated garage or screen porch. But Cooks Illustrated has you use freezer packs and a large insulated cooler, another safe alternative.
It always annoys me that the cooking shows have the chef dumping the salt in cold water and giving it just a few leisurely stirs. That salt would take MANY hours to dissolve. I realized I’d have to dissolve the salt in a few cups of boiling water, then cool THAT with ice before mixing it into the larger container of water. However, the effect is similar to just buying a bird that was injected with a salty solution. These may be the better choice. A home-brined turkey or chicken can have a spongy mouth-feel. And for optimally crisp skin, you’ll need to pat the brined bird dry, then either leave it uncovered in a cold place, on a rack, with a fan blowing on it overnight or longer, or racked and uncovered in the fridge for the same amount of time.
Agree with @corvette_johnny on this basically, although I don’t inject the brine; some spices can be of value if they’re crushed. I don’t put expensive stuff in there like maple syrup, but have found molasses to be wonderful if you want a hint of sweetness. Our turkeys that have been wet brined, have been the best ever. For chicken I think dry brines work well, since chicken has more fat than turkeys and retain moisture better, if not over cooked.
Also prefer a wet brine for lean tougher cuts of pork, such as whole loin or loin chops. Will try brining brisket soon.
My paternal grandmother who owned an egg farm back in the 1940’s in New Jersey, would do the same with the fresh killed hens my grandfather brought in, and she called it “koshering” the bird. (When the hens stop laying eggs, then end up on the table.)
Kosher poultry is “koshered” in salt and therefore don’t need to be brined as they are
-most commercial poultry is soaked in a solution of water and who-knows-what- else (but I’m sure salt in there somewhere and also adds to the weight), unless you buy "air-chilled’ poultry, which I think cooks much dryer than a traditional commercial chicken. I can always tell by the amount of liquid in the roasting pan after cooking.
-most recently I’ve been playing with the roasting temperature of chicken. I usually roast at 375,
and following Thomas Keller’s recipe for roasting chicken 425 degrees. However, after trying this recipe, https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/slow-roast-gochujang-chicken, I’ve been roasting at 300 degrees. Granted the skin doesn’t get that same level of crispness, but the meat stays very juicy.
lastly (most important for me, no matter what temperature or how I cook the chicken), I always trust my instant read thermometer, and remove the chicken from the oven when the breast meat is 165 degrees.
I’ve wet brined turkey and chicken, but not other cuts of meat for no particular reason other than I thought they didn’t need it in the preparation I used. Wet brined turkey was my go to for many years, until I tried dry brine and never went back. I like the flavor or both, but to be honest, not having to deal with finding a place to store a 30lb brined bird and brining liquid in a well-chilled spot is way preferable.
I also preferred simpler brines – salts, maybe a few peppercorns and earns or peels for some aroma. I can’t say that when I’ve tried other brines, like with cider, it added much to the dish. In fact, one danger I found is over-brining and having something overwhelm the flavor of the chicken meat. I tried it with a pickle juice brine for some chicken parts, and I got pulled away from cooking it the night I intended. I cooked it the next day and all I could taste was the pickling spices from the juice – YUCK. Never again!
One of my sisters, who is an experimenter like me, once brined a turkey in a vaguely Asian vein–all I recall is that it used star anise pods I think it was from Gourmet magazine)–but it was interesting that the resulting bird was divisive. Personally, I think it was one of the best and certainly most memorable turkeys I’ve had at Thanksgiving. But there are family members who regard Thanksgiving as a sort of sacramental thing, a script to be executed just so (varies from family to family).
It’s one of the most fascinating things to me how people differ on welcoming or being wary about changes in foods as expected. I think both attitudes are very primal indicators of temperament–and I’m not making judgment, but I think it is what it is…
I bought this package purposely because of the cuts’ lack of fat. This will be a test for me brineing beef.
I’m grateful for all of the advice offered on this thread. (I was going to add a bit of Muscato wine to the brine, but re-read corvette johnny’s comments, so I’ll just add a simple rub before it goes into the oven)