Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Brining - Trust me, you'll love it!

A few years ago, I learned of a basic cooking technique designed to help keep meat moist. Brining. Whether it's a simple solution of salt and water, or a more flavorful concoction with herbs and apple cider or beer, everybody's holiday turkey can benefit from a dip in the 'ol saltwater swimming pool. And no, don't go throwing your turkey in the ocean, though in a pinch I bet it would do!

How does it work? To brine a piece of meat, you basically soak your raw meat in a solution of salt and other liquids for a time before cooking. In the case of a turkey, you would want to allow 6-8 hours depending on the size of your bird. Something as small as a shrimp would only need to brine for about 30 minutes. This isn't an exact science here, so don't even worry about messing it up. Though I can tell you that while your bird is soaking, some pretty scientific principles are at work...and in your favor (flavor?). Basically, the salty solution is actually altering the structure of the cells in the meat, thus opening them up to the flavors of the brine and tenderizing each and every bite! Why oh why did I skip this step for so many years?!!

Here are some recipes that you just might want to give a try this Thanksgiving. If nothing else, fill a large pot or a cooler with water, and throw in a cup of kosher salt for each gallon of liquid. Stir things up a bit and drop in your turkey for awhile. You won't be disappointed.

Watch here as Chef Bobby Flay walks you through the brining process.

Click here for a brine with a bit of a citrus twist, or try this sweet and spicy brine from Alton Brown.

Happy Turkey Day!

1 comment:

vanessa said...

I didn't use this recipe but I did brine, and man was it good. I also got a ton of compliments on how juicy the Turkey was.