Brining How To - Part 8

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(A) ARTICLE 1 of 3

This includes RECIPES From FAMOUS Restaurants !

Terry Light: Long IMPORTANT Ed Powlowski Post About Brining:

"I've copied below a post from Ed Pawlowski about brining. I tried the 42 Degree Cider Cured Pork Chops recipe but used a tenderloin instead of chops. It was excellent!

I'm kinda sold on the whole brining idea. For sure, I won't ever cook a turkey again without brining it first. I once "over" brined some wings (got called out of town and they were in the brine 72 hours!!) which tasted a lot like ham but otherwise have had good success doing it.

Hope the article is of some value!
Terry Light
Oak Hill, Virginia


This article is from the March 25, 1998 San Francisco Chronicle. I have not tried any of the recipes in this article.


Salt and spices put old-fashioned flavor back into modern meats. 
Janet Fletcher, Chronicle Staff Writer

Have you had it with tasteless, juiceless pork chops and sawdust chicken breasts? Many professional cooks have, too, which is why they're turning to an age-old technique to restore the flavor and moistness that many meats used to have naturally.

In a growing number of restaurant and home kitchens, brining is putting the juice back into pork chops and at least some taste back into factory-raised chickens. By soaking the meat for hours or days in a seasoned salt-water solution, cooks find that they can transform lean pork and poultry with minimal cost and effort.

"This brining, it's become an urban legend," says Pam Anderson, Cook's Illustrated executive editor who has written about brining for the magazine and jokingly calls herself "the brine queen." Anderson once roasted more than 30 turkeys to find the best cooking method, settling on an overnight brine as an essential first step. "Every time we do a poultry story now," says Anderson, "we find that salt is the answer."

With brines, cooks like Anderson are trying to compensate for the shortcomings of modern animal husbandry. Chickens raised to market weight quickly on carefully formulated feed don't have the flavor of those old-time barnyard hunt-and-peckers. Nor does pork have the taste appeal it used to. Bred for leanness to accommodate contemporary concerns about fat, American pigs are 50 to 70 percent leaner than they were 20 years ago, says East Bay sausage maker Bruce Aidells. Fat, whatever its other failings, contributes moisture and flavor.

"When they decided to market pork as the new lean white meat, they completely ruined the product," complains Nancy Oakes, chef at Boulevard in San Francisco (and Aidells' wife). "If you cook pork loin at home, you end up with this hard, dry, very lean white meat."

In response, Oakes began brining pork several years ago at L'Avenue, her former San Francisco restaurant. At Boulevard, a spit-roasted pork loin, brined for four days, is a menu fixture, and brined turkey breast with applesauce is a favorite staff meal.

Aidells, too, is a brining convert. His forthcoming book on meat, due this fall from Chapters Publishing, will include a small treatise on the practice. "To be honest with you," says the meat maven, "unless you're really careful, it's damn near impossible to produce a decent pork chop without brine."

The succulent cider-cured pork chop at San Francisco's 42 Degrees testifies to brining's merits. Chef Jim Moffatt swears by the technique, not only because it infuses the meat with flavor but because it gives the kitchen a larger margin of error. A brined chop will stay moist even if it's cooked a little too long.

By what mechanism does a little salt water work such magic? "It's our old friend osmosis," says Harold McGee, the Palo Alto specialist in the science of cooking. "If there's more of a diffusable chemical in one place than another, it tries to even itself out."

Because there's more salt in the brine than in the meat, the muscle absorbs the salt water. There, the salt denatures the meat proteins, causing them to unwind and form a matrix that traps the water. And if the brine includes herbs, garlic, juniper berries or peppercorns, those flavors are trapped in the meat, too. Instead of seasoning on the surface only, as most cooks do, brining carries the seasonings throughout.

Aidells calls this technique "flavor brining" -- done not for preservation (which would require a saltier solution and longer immersion) but for enhancing texture and taste. Even a couple of hours in a brine will improve bland Cornish game hens, says Anderson, or give chicken parts a flavor boost before deep-frying or grilling.

Brines vary considerably from chef to chef, as do recommended brining times. But generally speaking, the saltier the brine, the shorter the required stay. And, logically, the brine will penetrate a Cornish game hen or duck breast much faster than it will penetrate a thick muscle like a whole pork loin or turkey breast. Meat left too long in a brine tastes over seasoned and the texture is compromised, producing a soggy or mushy quality.

Most cooks start their brine with hot water, which dissolves the salt and draws out the flavor in the herbs and spices. But they caution that the brine should be completely cold before adding the meat or it will absorb too much salt.

By playing around with the liquid base and the seasonings, chefs give their brine personality. Some use apple juice or beer for some or all of the water. The smoked turkey that Jeff Starr of Stags' Leap Winery produced for a food editors' conference in Napa Valley last year was brined in orange juice, rice wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar; some who tasted it swore they would never cook a turkey any other way again.

Seasonings can run the gamut from thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and garlic to cinnamon stick, star anise or vanilla. Many cooks put some sugar in their brine to sweeten the meat and make it brown better when cooked. Others avoid sugar, arguing that it makes everything taste like ham.

Whatever their recipe, brining advocates keep looking for other uses for their favorite technique. Anderson says some people brine shrimp for half an hour; she herself has begun soaking chicken parts in salted buttermilk before frying to get the benefits of brine with the tenderizing effect of the buttermilk. If cooks like Anderson and Aidells continue to preach the gospel of brining, diners can kiss sawdust chicken goodbye.


Here are some tips to start you in the brining business:

--A heavy-duty plastic tub, earthenware crock, stainless-steel bowl or even a re-sealable plastic bag can work as a brining container as long as the meat is
fully submerged. Weight with a plate if necessary to keep the meat fully covered by brine.

--To determine how much brine you'll need, place the meat to be brined in your chosen container. Add water
to cover. Remove the meat and measure the water.

--Start your brine with hot water to dissolve the salt (and sugar if using) and to draw the flavor out of any herbs and spices. Chill brine completely in the refrigerator before adding meat.

--Although some cooks prefer lighter or heavier brines, 1 cup of salt per gallon of water is a happy medium. Use kosher salt that has no additives.

WATCH THIS !!!!!!! Try LESS Kosher salt. Maybe 3/4 to
2/3 cup per gallon. Do NOT try and use sea salt.

--Experiment with seasonings. Salt is essential, but everything else is optional. Consider garlic, ginger, fresh herbs, juniper berries, clove, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, mustard seed, coriander seed, star anise, hot pepper flakes or Sichuan peppercorns. To give pork a sweet edge and encourage browning, add 1/2 cup sugar to each 2 quarts of water.

--Rinse meat twice after removing it from the brine solution.

--Don't salt brined meat before cooking; it is already salted throughout.

--Don't reuse brine.


The thickness of the muscle, the strength of the brine
and your own taste determine how long to brine an item. For a moderately strong brine (1 cup salt to 1 gallon water), the following brining times are rough guidelines. If you aren't ready to cook at the end of the brining time, remove the meat from the brine, but keep the meat refrigerated.

Shrimp: 30 minutes
Whole chicken (4 pounds): 8 to 12 hours
Chicken parts: 1 1/2 hours
Cornish game hens: 2 hours
Turkey (12 to 14 pounds): 24 hours
Pork chops (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inch thick): 1 to 2 days
Whole pork tenderloin: 12 hours
Whole pork loin: 2 to 4 days


Even the breast meat is moist in this simple roast chicken, which spends half a day in brine. If desired, brine it overnight, then remove it from the brine in the morning but keep refrigerated until dinner time.


1 chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds
1 lemon, halved Brine
1 gallon boiling water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 tablespoon coarsely cracked peppercorns

INSTRUCTIONS: To make the brine: Combine all brine ingredients in a bowl, small crock or heavy-duty plastic container just large enough to hold the chicken. Stir to dissolve the salt. Cool, then refrigerate until completely cold. Place the chicken breast-side down in the brine. Weight with a plate if necessary to keep the chicken completely submerged. Refrigerate for 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Remove chicken from brine and allow to air-dry at room temperature.

Squeeze 1 of the lemon halves in the cavity, squeeze the other over the skin, then put both halves in the cavity. Truss the bird with string.

Place breast-side down on a rack in a roasting pan; roast for 30 minutes. Turn breast-side up and continue roasting until the juices run clear, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken breast-side down to a platter and let cool for 30 minutes. Remove the string and discard the lemons. Carve the chicken into serving pieces and spoon any collected juices over them.

Serves 3 or 4.




4 center-cut pork loin chops, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick 
Olive oil

4 cups water
2 cups hard cider
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
10 whole peppercorns
4 bay leaves
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped

INSTRUCTIONS: To make the brine: Combine all brine ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then remove from heat and let cool. When cool, refrigerate until cold.

Add the pork chops to the cold brine. Weight with a plate if necessary to keep the chops completely submerged. Refrigerate for at least 1 day or up to 2 days.

To cook: Remove the chops from the brine and pat them dry. Heat 2 skillets over moderately high heat. Add just enough oil to coat the bottom of each skillet. When the skillets are hot, add the chops and reduce heat to moderately low. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn and cook until the chops are no longer pink at the bone, about 10 minutes longer.

Serves 4. The calories and other nutrients absorbed from brines vary and are difficult to estimate. Variables include the type of food, brining time and amount of surface area. Therefore, these recipes contain no analysis.



This recipe makes enough brine for a 4- to 6-pound boneless pork loin, or six 1 3/8- to 1 1/2-inch-thick center-cut pork loin chops, or 4 pork tenderloins, 1 to 1 1/4 pounds each. The recipe is from a forthcoming cookbook on meat by Bruce Aidells.


9 cups boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons coarsely cracked black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla

INSTRUCTIONS: Combine all brine ingredients in a bowl, small crock or heavy-duty plastic container; stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Let cool, then chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

Add pork of choice (see headnote). Weight with a plate if necessary to keep the meat completely submerged.

Refrigerate 3 days for pork loin, 1 to 2 days for chops and 12 hours for tenderloin. Stir the brine each day and turn the pork occasionally.

Roast or grill pork loin or tenderloins. Grill chops or pan-fry according to directions in Cider-Cured Pork Chops.



If you're feeling flush, says Boulevard chef Nancy Oakes, substitute apple juice or cider for the water, and reduce the honey to 1/2 cup.


1 bone-in turkey breast half, 3 to 3 1/2 pounds
1 tablespoon olive oil Honey Brine
2 quarts water
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
1 rosemary sprig, about 4 inches long

INSTRUCTIONS: To make the brine: Bring water to a boil, then pour into a container just large enough to hold the turkey breast; cool for 5 minutes. Add honey, salt, mustard and pepper; whisk until honey dissolves. Add rosemary. Refrigerate until well chilled.

Add turkey breast to the chilled brine. Weight with a plate if necessary to keep it completely submerged. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 days.

Remove the turkey breast from the brine, place in a roasting pan and bring to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roast the turkey for 30 minutes, then brush with the olive oil. Continue roasting until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes longer, basting occasionally with the drippings. Remove from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Serves 6.


(B) ARTICLE 2 of 3


All of us know of the benefits of Brining, especially for today's leaner meats. No longer are there old hens running around on grandmas farm like one of my former instructors used to talk about. The pigs are eating grain cooked to 136%. I for one am completely sold on the benefits of brining, everything from whole chickens and pork loin to fish and seafood. This is how brining works.

Because there is more salt in the brine than in the meat, the muscle absorbs the salt water. There, the salt denatures the meat proteins, causing them to unwind and form a matrix that traps the water. And if the brine includes herbs, garlic and other seasonings, those flavors and trapped in the meat too. Instead of seasoning on the surface as most cooks do, brining carries the seasoning throughout. Even a couple of hours in a brine will improve bland Cornish game hens, and give chicken breast , pork chops, fish or even seafood a flavor boost. Brines vary considerably from chef to chef, as do recommended brining times. But generally speaking, the saltier the brine, the shorter time is required.

And the brine will penetrate a chicken breast or pork chop much faster than a large thick muscle like a whole pork loin or turkey.

Meat left too long in a brine tastes over seasoned and the texture is compromised, producing a soggy or mushy quality, By playing around with the liquid base, you can give your brine some personality. Some chefs use apple jucie or beer for some or all of the water. A mixture of orange juice, cider vinegar and rice wine vinegar is an excellent base for brining turkey. Seasonings can run anywhere from thyme, rosemary and garlic to star anise, cinnamon and vanilla beans. Many chefs put some sugar in their brine to sweeten the meat and make it brown better when cooking. This is good for pork, but it tends to make everything else taste like ham. Brining chicken parts before frying using salted buttermilk will give you the benefits of the brine plus the tenderizing effect of the buttermilk. Whatever you choose to use, brining is a very effective tool for dealing with todays leaner meats.

How Long to Brine

The thickness of the muscle, the strength of the brine and your own taste will determine how long to brine for an item. 1 gallon of liquid to 1 cup Kosher salt is a happy medium. If you cant use kosher salt, cut the salt by half. Obviously, brined meats do not need to be salted before cooking, because they are already salted throughout the meat.

Preparing the brine

Bring your liquid to a boil. Add your salt and sugar (if you are using sugar) and dissolve completely. Add your herbs and seasonings. The seasonings are added to the hot liquid to extract the flavors, therefore better flavoring the meat. ====> COOL the brine completely. When * COOL *, put your meat into a non-corrosive container and pour the brine over it. The meat must be completely covered, so use a plate to weigh it down if you have to.

shrimp - 30 minutes

whole chicken (4 pounds) - 8 to 12 hours

chicken parts - 1 1/2 hours

chicken breasts - 1 hour

cornish game hens - 2 hours

whole turkey - 24 hours

pork chops - 12-24 hours

whole pork loins - 2 to 4 days


(C) ARTICLE 3 of 3

"BRINING" From The Boston Glove - 1998

(Contributed Thanks To Garry Howard)

BRINING - A Curing Solution

Brining Keeps Meat and Fish Tender and Full of Flavor

Do you ever wonder why your home-cooked roast chicken or pork chops never taste as irresistibly moist as what you get in fancy restaurants? Well, there's a sneaky little technique that chefs use to turn out succulent cuts of meat, poultry, and fish. Their secret? Brining. It's easy and economical. It requires no special cookware. And it guarantees juicy, tender meals.

Brining is a form of wet curing, explains George Opalenck, associate professor at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island. "When we wet cure, we put the food in a brine, which is a solution of salt, water, something sweet - such as sugar or honey - spices, and herbs. The salt draws the liquid out of the food, but then the brine goes rushing back in. The sweetener cuts the harshness of the salt and rounds out the flavors."

"It's amazing what brining does," says Andy Husbands, chef-owner of Tremont 647, who discovered the technique when he worked at the East Coast Grill with pal Chris Schlesinger. "Pork, chicken, and tuna can easily become dry when cooked on the grill or in the oven. But brining is like a marindae - it keeps food moist and temder."

"Brining and curing originated as a preserving method and has been around since the seventh century," says Rudy Smith, who teaches charcuterie at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. "What chefs are doing now is brining foods for the benefits of flavor and moisture, not perserving."

A traditional brine contains 2 pounds of salt for every 3 gallons of water; the new-wave brines are considerably less salty and have a milder taste.

"The brines we do are pretty light," says Joe Simone, executive chef of Tosca in Hinghan, referring to the ration of salt to water in his brines. "If the brine is too strong, it will break down the meat too quickly and give it too strong a flavor. The brine should taste mildly salty." Simone brines everything from pigeon an capon to salmon and pork. "It all started with pork," he says. "When I worked with George [Germon] and Johanne [Killeen] at Al Forno, they brined pork, which was an idea they borrowed from Alice Waters," chef-owner of Chez Panisse in California.

"We've been brining for 17 years," says Germon. He and Killeen, his wife, are chef-owners of Al Forno in Providence and the newly renovated Cafe Louis in the Back Bay. "Alice Waters was the inspiration for brining, though I don't remember why," he muses. "The reason I like it is because it cooks the food a little. Brining cuts down on the cooking time and makes the foods juicier."

At both restaurants, Germon and Killeen server their signature brine-cured pork chops, which are lightly charred on the outside and pink and juicy inside.

"We've noticed that brining works best on meats that don't have much fat on their own such as chicken and pork," notes Germon. "I use it with turkey and I have also experimented with lamb and beef."

Duck is another food that takes nicely to brining. At Bok Shoy in Brookline, chef Benjamin Nathan steeps the birds in a spicy Asian brine of soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), galic chili paste, ginger, and oranges. "I got the idea for the duck as a takeoff from Peking duck," says Nathan, who also soaks chicken in brines based on tea rather than water. "I first started brining while working at Providence in Boookline, when Bob Sargent [now chef-owner of Flora in Arlington] was sous-chef. We'd brine veal breasts, veal shanks, chickens, and ducks. Brining is a great, great way to get flavor into meat, poultry, and game."

For enteraining, you can brine meat or poultry several days in advance, then grill or broil it at the last moment. With fish, shrimp, or scallops, set the seafood in the brine for a few hours before cooking.

"I absolutely love brining," says Simone. "You can really broaden the flavor of a product withough taking away from the original taste. Don't be afraid to try it. I even have my dad hooked on brining."

Some Practical Tips for the Home Cook

Brining is an excellent way to create juicy, flavorful meat, poultry, and seafood. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

- When brining for flavor and moistness (not preserving), it is fine to use less salt than the standard measure. Consider using soy or fish sauce to add a salty taste.

- Instead of sugar or maple syrup, try sweetening the brine with honey, molasses, or even caramelized sugar.

- Consider substituting some of the water in the brine with
stock, tea or wine. Adjust the salt and sugar to taste.

- Poultry and meat require longer soaking times than fish and shell fish.

From the Boston Globe, May 13, 1998
By Victoria Abott Ricardi - Globe Correspondent
Compliments of Garry's Home Cooking
Garry Howard - Cambridge, MA


That's it, Gang. Now go enjoy BRINING !

Mikey Lulejian



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