I finally had the time to search for Bob Pastorio's brining information. Here it is, in its entirety:[p]Subject: Pastorio's Brining Method[p]Salty secrets[p]There's a big deal restaurant secret I just recently realized I haven't told you about. Ever wonder why meats in good restaurants seem to be juicier and more flavorful? Did you think they got different meats than you? Would you invest a few minutes to get much better-tasting meats?
There's a new twist on a technique that's very old. Time was when there were no refrigerators. Meat spoils quickly. What to do? Well, there were several choices for storage. Put it under cold water. Store it hanging in a cold root cellar or springhouse. You could hang the meat over a slow, smoky fire. Anything else?
The other major way to store meat was to pickle it; to brine it. Sink it in a flavored brine and in fairly short order, you have a piece of meat that won't spoil any time soon. We still have some being produced like that nowadays. Corned beef. Pastrami. Many different kinds of hams. You know them.
That's the restaurant secret. The new-old method, but with some modern changes. Brining the meats. Here's what happens. The salt and sugar act to draw moisture out of the meats. The brine then is taken up by the meat bringing moisture and some flavoring. It makes the meat plumper and juicier. It makes it more forgiving in cooking. It makes your dinner a bit more tender. What's to not like?
We aren't going to pickle them, just soak them in a light brine solution. Stay with me here. We aren't making the meats taste salty, just better. And cook more quickly.
Poultry, pork, lamb, beef and game meats can all be brined and I guarantee they'll be tastier, juicier and more tender than without brining. Brining will also shorten cooking times. Cook as you always do, just check on the progress of the meats a bit earlier and more often than usual until you get the sense of it. And this isn't just for special occasions. Every time you cook meats, they can benefit from this approach. Discard the brines after using once.[p]BASIC MEAT BRINE
This much brine will take care of a 3 or 4 pound piece of pork loin, a chicken (or chicken pieces), a 3 or 4 pound beef, lamb or veal roast. How long to leave the meats in the brine? Depends. For poultry, at least 24 hours. Up to about 36 hours. Roasts benefit from 3 days or more.
1 quart water
4 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons oregano
4 or 5 bay leaves, crumbled
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons vinegar
Heat the water and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a low simmer, stir a few times and remove from the heat. Let cool.
That's the brine. How to use it? One very easy way is a gallon freezer bag. Put the meat in the bag and pour the cooled brine over it. Squeeze out much of the air, put the bag in a container and refrigerate. Just in case of leaks.
Variations: Well, for the basic brine, you can add or subtract any flavorings you want. The amounts of water, salt and sugar should remain fairly constant, but the other ingredients are variable.
For duck, goose and other oily birds, add 2 tablespoons ground ginger, a cup of soy sauce and 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate. Stick the duck all over with a fork and brine for 3 or 4 days. Roast in a 400 oven for about an hour.
Chicken pieces benefit from the juice of a lemon and a tablespoon of rubbed sage added to the brine.[p]FISH FILLETS IN A MAPLE AND DILL BRINE
This brine works well on fillets of tuna, salmon, orange roughy and
trout. Brining fish is faster than meats. You need real maple syrup
for best results.
1 quart water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 bunch fresh dill, coarsely chopped (about 1/ 2 cup)
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
fish fillets, about 2 pounds total, center cuts if possible
Combine the water, salt, maple syrup and brown sugar in a large nonreactive container. Stir to dissolve the salt. Add dill, garlic, and pepper. Submerge the fish skin side up in the brine. Cover the container and refrigerate for 8 to 10 hours.
To cook, remove the fish from the brine and pat dry. Brush or spray with oil. To broil, put the fish on a foil-lined baking sheet, skin side down and broil for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness at the thickest point, or until just cooked through. To grill, put on a sheet of foil directly on the grill rack over medium heat for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
And don't forget that turkey or the venison leg. Got a really big bucket? Enjoy very much.