If you’re planning on throwing chicken or pork chops on the grill this weekend, consider giving them a flavor and moisture boost. Brining is an age old way of convincing your meat that it wants to hang on to it’s moisture.
To Make a Basic Brine ~ Use a 1/2 cup of kosher salt for every quart of water (if you’re using table salt, reduce by half). You want only enough brine to cover the meat, so choose a plastic or glass container just large enough to hold your meat which reduces the amount of brine required. Bring the water, salt, and any additional flavor infusion (see below) to a boil, then cool completely before pouring over meat.
Flavor Infusion ~ Independent of the brining process, this is a great time to add flavor. You can add herbs, spices, aromatics, sugars, syrups, booze, Dijon, or whatever you like to inject flavor. However, use caution when adding citrus or vinegars as they can ‘cook’ your seafood and turn your meat to mush if left in the brine too long. And when adding natural sweeteners like maple syrup or fruit juices, use sparingly as the sugars will tend to blacken on the grill.
How Long to Brine ~ Time is the other important variable. We usually do chops or chicken breasts for ½ a day, fish for an hour or two and shrimp for 20 minutes or so. Obviously, whole turkeys and chickens require longer and want a resting period after brining before cooking (6-8 hours); this allows the moisture in the skin time to be absorbed so it will get nice and crispy during cooking. When finished brining, rinse meat under water to remove excess salt. Discard brine (do not reuse).
FAQ ~ Q. Does brining increase the sodium level in foods? A. Yes, so when seasoning your meat post-brining do not add additional salt. However, for the more precise answer click here and decide for yourself.
Our Go-to Brine ~ 1/2 cup kosher salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 10 – 12 peppercorns, 2 fresh thyme sprigs, and 1 quart water.