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Brining Learning Curve

Seems a lot of folks (myself included) are trying to figure out this brining thing, & I've noticed more than one of us has reported that the end product was too wet, or even "mushy". As my basic text for brining I have been using the "Brining 101" article from "Cooks Illustrated" (in conjuntion with personal advice from Gretl, the world famous BGE poultry expert), & I noted that the CI article recommends soak times of 1 hour per pound, but not to exceed 8 hrs regardless of weight. No detailed explanation in the article, but the CI Test Kitchen crew seems pretty thorough, & on those occasions that I have followed their method to the letter the results have generally been successful. As someone new to the brining thing I have found the many different brining methods to be somewhat confusing - amounts of salt, sugar, ratio of one to the other, soak times from hours to days - it seems we have our work cut out for us. My next brining project will be a good old fashioned corned beef brisket for Christmas (New England boiled beef dinner). May as well start the ball rolling now by asking for any recipes or opinions anyone may have concerning same - already have a jar of Penzy's corned beef spices in anticipation. Thanx - ERIC

Comments

  • MarkMark Posts: 295
    E.B.,
    Have been a Brining fan for years, and yes there is a learning curve, as with anything. If I'm going to brine a ham for instance I will start Wednesday night by making my solution and letting it cool overnight and through the next day. Thursday I'll buy my meat and place it in the brine that night. Friday remove it, pad dry and apply rub. Saturday it is ready for the grill. It has been my findings 8 to 12 hours for small, thin pieces of meat, 24 for large thick pieces.
    Mark

  • E.B.,Eric heres a site thats worth looking at . look under the pastrami heading . this is corned beef thats smoked http://www.randyq.addr.com/index.html [p]reg
  • fiver29fiver29 Posts: 602
    E.B.,[p]Brining foods in a saltwater mixture before you cook them adds flavor, tenderness and reduces cooking times. If this sounds like a good thing to you then you need to learn about brining. [p]The brining of meats is an age-old process of food preservation. Heavy concentrations of salt could preserve meats for long ocean voyages and military campaigns before the advent of refrigeration. Now brining takes on a new purpose. By using smaller quantities of salt, mixed with other spices and herbs, brining can permeate meat with flavor. [p]The chemistry behind brining is actually pretty simple. Meat already contains salt water. By immersing meats into a liquid with a higher concentration of salt the liquid is absorbed into the meat. Any flavoring added to the brine will be carried into the meat with the saltwater mixture. And because the meat is now loaded with extra moisture it will stay that way longer while it cooks. [p]The process of brining is easy but takes some planning. Depending on the size of what you want to brine it can take up to 24 hours or more. If you are going to be brining whole poultry you will also want an additional 6 to 12 hours between the brining and the cooking. If you want your poultry to have a golden and crispy skin it needs to sit in the refrigerator for several hours after you remove it from the brine so that the meat can absorb the moisture from the skin. [p]The most basic process of brining is to take approximately 1 cup of kosher salt (no iodine or other additives) to 1 gallon of water. You need enough brine to completely submerge the meat without any part being out of the liquid. Some items might need to be weighted down to stay under. Brine for about 2 hours per pound. Remove from brine (don't reuse the brine), do not rinse and cook. [p]So what should you brine? Practically anything you want. Poultry in particular benefits greatly from brining regardless of how you plan to cook it. Large roasts, racks of ribs and anything you plan to smoke will be better for having been brined first.[p]The typical brine consists of 1 cup of salt for each gallon of water (or other liquids). Start by determining the amount of liquid you are going to need. To do this take the meat you plan to brine and place it in the container you are going to use. The container can be most anything that will easily fit the meat but isn't so big that you have to prepare far more brine that you need. Plastic containers, crocks, stainless steel bowls, sealable bags or any non-corrosive material will work. [p]Once you know how much liquid is needed start by boiling 2 cups of water for each cup of salt you will need. Once it boils add the salt (and sugar if you are going to be using sugar) and stir until dissolved. Add other spices and herbs. Combine with the remaining liquid (should be cold). The brine should always be cold before you add the meat so you should refrigerate it before you add the meat. You don't want the brine cooking the meat. [p]At this point you can add other brine ingredients like juices or cut up fruit. Submerge the meat into the brine. You can use a plate or other heavy object to keep it down. It is important that no part of the meat be exposed to the air. A saltwater brine will kill bacteria and keep the meat from spoiling but it doesn't work if part of the meat is sticking out. [p]Brine for about 2 hours per pound in the refrigerator. It is important that the whole thing be kept cold. The specific amount of time will vary of course. Lighter meats like poultry or seafood do not need to be brined as long as denser meats like pork tenderloins. Use the following chart to give you an idea of how long to brine. Remember that the longer you brine the stronger the flavor will be. If you over brine you could end up with some very salt and strong meat. [p]Meat Brine Time
    Shrimp 30 Minutes
    Whole Chicken (4-5 Pounds) 8 to 10 hours
    Turkey (12-14 pounds) 24 hours
    Pork Tenderloin (whole) 12 hours [p]
    Once the meat is properly brined remove it. You do not need to rinse unless you were using a high salt concentration in the brine. Otherwise you can take cuts of meat straight to the grill, smoker, or oven. Whole poultry is the exception however. To get a crispy, brown skin whole birds should be removed from the brine, wrapped in foil or plastic and put in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 12 hours.[p]Now that you know how to brine it's time to turn on the imagination. First of all you don't need water. What? That's right the water is optional. Any liquid will do for brining. You can substitute some or all of the water with whatever you heart desires. Wine, beer, fruit juices (especially good is apple), or vinegars all make a good liquid base for your brine. Of course you might not want to spend the money on a gallon or two of beer or wine for a brine that will just get thrown out when you are done. This is why most people use water for the majority of the brine but add a small quantity of another liquid for flavor. [p]One thing to remember when putting together a brine, is the chemical state of the liquid. By adding a acidic liquid like citrus juices or vinegar you will make the brine acidic. This will tenderize meat but if it is too strong it can turn the meat to mush. If you do plan on using this kind of brine, reduce the brining time accordingly. [p]As for spices, imagine that you are going to be using a spice rub, but instead of applying the rub directly to the meat you simply add it to the brine. The brining process works better at pulling the flavors into the meat than applying a rub will. [p]Once you have the liquid chosen and added the cup of kosher salt per gallon, it's time to add the flavor. Any herb, spice, sweetener, fruit, vegetable will work. Some chefs make brines much the way you would a soup, by adding cut up vegetables along with whole peppercorns, garlic cloves, diced onion and whatever else works well with the meat you are using. [p]Another trick used by chefs is to add 1 tablespoon of saltpeter per gallon of liquid. Saltpeter is available at pharmacies and will preserve the color of meat, especially beef and pork that will turn gray during the brining. If the color is important to you, consider the saltpeter. [p]The only limit on brining is your imagination. Experimentation is the key so open up the refrigerator and the spice cabinet and start mixing. [p]source:http://bbq.about.com/library/weekly/aa112000a.htm?terms=brine

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  • PainterPainter Posts: 464
    fiver29, WOW, You must like to type---Thanks for the update. Good Job
    Painter

  • Painter, WOW is right! Looks like fiver29's thesis for his MBA (Master of Brining Arts). Thanx to all you guys - Reg, Mark, Fiver, & Old Paint - I appreciate it...ERIC[p]
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