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Brine, Baby, Brine

May 4, 2010

When it come to brining, do not check your creativity at the door! Throw it in there, it might be GREAT!

Yeah, I was a little inspired by recent (environmentally catastrophic) events with that title, totally admit to that.  And I don’t really have a segway, but let me try….oil spilt all over salt water down south, and salt water is your friend when it comes to eating lean meat?  Was that a stretch?  Just a bit.  This is why I shouldn’t blog after reading the news.

But I digress.  Brining, people, the topic is brining.  And if you aren’t doing it yet, you should be!  How can you possibly take another dried out lean piece of protein?  You can’t, eating healthy is not supposed to be torture!  A few years back, when I was still searching for skinniness in the latest diet fad, I learned how to brine from the South Beach Diet.  Yep, remember that one?  There’s actually quite a bit of wisdom found within that diet.  One of them – Brine your lean meats.

Brining is simple – take a mixture of salt and sugar, and soak lean protein (chicken, turkey, lean pork cuts).  I hate to cook any of those items before I brine, as there’s just a world of difference.  There are tons of resources on exactly the whys and hows, so feel free to Google around the topic of How to Brine.

Basic idea, though, is equal parts sugar and salt (about 1/2 a cup each) in 1-2 gallons of water.  (I’ll be honest, I don’t measure. Proceed with the Googling for preciseness.)  For a boneless, skinless chicken breast, I bring about 30-60 minutes.  Anymore, and it’s too salty, and tastes funny.

You can add herbs and spices to the brine, maybe some citrus, and the meat will take on a subtle hint of the seasonings.  Biggest caveat – if you have salt issues, take this into consideration.  You will not want to add salt anywhere else, and you may need to alter the proportions.

Once you get the hang of brining chicken breast, go ahead on try it on a turkey breast; some lean pork chops.  Better yet, brine your Thanksgiving turkey, and watch everyone’s eyes pop out when they taste the juciest, most flavorful turkey of their lives! (Wow, I’m really dramatic today, aren’t I?  Must be all the 11-year-old girlness that I was swimming in this past weekend!).

So here’s a few sites to check out on basic recipes:
How to Brine Chicken
– great scientific info on the whys and hows, and the best “how long to brine” chart!
How to Brine A Chicken – another nice recipe for a whole chicken
(When I’ve done a whole turkey – in a cooler, overnight – I’ve added just about every poultry seasoning imaginable, at no known proportion.  It’s kind of a can’t-go-too-wrong cooking technique.)

The bottom line is from this day forth, you should not cook a boneless chicken breast without first brining it.  You will be so amazed at how much better it tastes, how much juicier it it.  Feel free to ask more questions, I’ve been doing it for a few years, and am happy to share to experiences!

Brine baby!  Brine!

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