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Do You Brine?
Posted: 18 November 2007 03:13 PM   [ Ignore ]
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With all the attention around brining chicken and pork in recent years, I thought I’d ask how many of you employ this technique and what your thoughts are about it.

I personally am not a fan of wet brining poultry. While the meat is admittedly juicier, I think the texture of the meat is like a chewy wet sponge and I find it quite unpleasant. Pork doesn’t seem to suffer the same fate, and I will use a wet brine technique with it on occasion - mostly if the pig is going on the grill.

I do, however, love dry brining poultry. I find the results much more flavorful without the unpleasant wet sponge effects of wet brine, as long as you have the time to invest. I always try to plan far enough ahead so I can dry brine my poultry. The exception is my Thanksgiving turkey since I always use a kosher one and the koshering process itself mimics the effect of dry brining - the work is already done for me smile

I’d love to hear other opinions on this.

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Posted: 18 November 2007 04:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I actually love to brine a 10-12 lb. turkey - and get excellent results.  I’ve also brined shrimp and they turned out well.  I have not brined pork or chicken.

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Posted: 18 November 2007 05:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’ve quit brining because it’s gotten harder to find chicken that hasn’t already been treated in some way. Brining meat that’s pretty much already been brined tends to make the texture turn a bit weird.

(I live in a small town, with relatively limited choices for this kind of thing.)

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Posted: 18 November 2007 06:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Any chicken or pork that is going on the grill I will definitely brine. Also brining is always a good idea where I live—a high altitude, extremely dry climate. Poultry and pork just tends to dry out more quickly if I don’t brine.

I also brine in order to season the meat. It’s a great way to introduce flavor other than just the salt factor.

I would like to try my own dry salting/brining, but I don’t generally have the time (it takes about 2 days for pork and 3-4 days for large poultry).

I have roasted a kosher chicken and a kosher turkey, and I do love them, but they are very expensive, so I just stick with traditional brining.

This Christmas, I will be roasting a brined goose (for which I fished out a special brine recipe) for the first time. That’s a bit taunting as it is an expensive piece of meat, but I’m looking forward to it.

Oh, I also very briefly brine shrimp before cooking, which keeps them plump and juicy.

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Posted: 20 November 2007 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’ve never brined because I don’t want the sugar factor in the brine. Do any of you use a brine that does not use sugar, wet or dry?  Please post recipes if you do.

MrsM

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Posted: 20 November 2007 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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MrsM - 20 November 2007 02:53 PM

I’ve never brined because I don’t want the sugar factor in the brine. Do any of you use a brine that does not use sugar, wet or dry?  Please post recipes if you do.

MrsM

A brine can be as simple as salt and water. you don’t need sugar in a brine. The sugar in most brine recipes is there to aid browning of the meat, but it’s not necessary.

You can use any brine recipe you come across, just leave out the sugar. The most important aspect of a brine is the ratio of salt to water.

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Posted: 20 November 2007 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thanks, Roxanne.

MrsM

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Posted: 20 November 2007 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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The Alton Brown brine I use for shrimp was a salt/water combo - I found the shrimp best when allowed to sit in the brine for the shortest amount of time called for in the recipe.

The Wolfgang Puck brine I use for turkey contains salt, honey, spices - the honey really helps to brown the skin, just as Roxanne said, but it doesn’t make the meat sweet at all.

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Posted: 20 November 2007 09:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Turkey and chicken are the only things I brine, but I marinate pork a lot and use rubs. terminology is shady, but I think they all function in pretty much the same way flavor-wise. Brine is more water/salt, marinade is less liquid, rub is dry or nearly so.
I use a fresh (never frozen) turkey and a new spin on a spiced brine every year for thanksgiving (this year I think it will be citrus/pear). I find that the flavor, texture and moisture are incomparable, so much so that last year I made a 15 lb turkey for 6 people so that we had leftovers intentionally.

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Posted: 21 November 2007 03:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Mona, the Bangalore Baker - 21 November 2007 03:32 AM
Roxanne - 18 November 2007 10:06 PM

This Christmas, I will be roasting a brined goose (for which I fished out a special brine recipe) for the first time. That’s a bit taunting as it is an expensive piece of meat, but I’m looking forward to it.

Oh, I also very briefly brine shrimp before cooking, which keeps them plump and juicy.

Good luck on your Christmas goose. We lived close to a goose farm in Weinheim, Germany and bought geese several times. My husband brined them sometimes, but not always. The most important thing to do is dunk the bird in boiling water before roasting or grilling. The exact directions are in one of the Cooks Illustrated cookbooks, The Best Recipe (I think). Goose has a lot of fat, much more than a chicken or turkey. The boiling water treatment keeps the grease from flowing all over the place. Our oven in Germany was tiny, so Tom roasted it on the grill. Here are a couple snaps.

Thanks Mona!

There a lot of different methods for roasting goose. I’ll be skipping the blanching in boiling water method as I don’t have a pot that’s big enough for a goose. However, I an achieve similar results by slashing the skin deeply through the fat layer in several places and roasting the bird for half the time at high heat before turning down the heat to finish it at a slow temp. I also intend to let the goose dry in the refrigerator for a superior crispy skin. I have done this successfully with very fatty wild duck, and the duck turned out beautifully. I cannot wait for all the goose fat I’ll be collecting smile. Roasted potatoes in goose fat is one of my all time favorite side dishes.

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Posted: 21 November 2007 07:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I don’t brine…here I go again moaning about my tiny kitchen…but there is no room in my referigerator for a big stock pot or vessel of some sort in which to brine a turkey…I inject it with a mixture of melted butter, orange juice, sherry, salt and pepper.

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Posted: 21 November 2007 08:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Those NYC kitchens can be pretty small!!!  How about brining a small turkey, or a turkey breast sometime?

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Posted: 21 November 2007 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I am dry brining this year.  A Pam Anderson recipe.  Liberal Kosher salt and then the bird sits uncovered in the fridge overnight.  I have done chicken this way (from the Zuni Cafe cookbook) but this is the first time I’ve done turkey.

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Posted: 21 November 2007 11:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Bill - 21 November 2007 11:24 PM

I don’t brine…here I go again moaning about my tiny kitchen…but there is no room in my referigerator for a big stock pot or vessel of some sort in which to brine a turkey…I inject it with a mixture of melted butter, orange juice, sherry, salt and pepper.


You don’t need a refrigerator to brine. I brine in a cooler, cause I usually can’t a fit a turkey+pot in my refrigerator either.

We usually put the turkey (of course, we usually brine a small turkey—under 12 pounds) in brine in a stockpot and then put the stock pot in a cooler surrounded by ice. It stays cold for the entire 12 hour brining process.

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Posted: 22 November 2007 06:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Amy A - 22 November 2007 02:31 AM

I am dry brining this year.  A Pam Anderson recipe.  Liberal Kosher salt and then the bird sits uncovered in the fridge overnight.  I have done chicken this way (from the Zuni Cafe cookbook) but this is the first time I’ve done turkey.

Let us know how it goes ... I’ve been eyeing her technique for a while now!

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Posted: 26 November 2007 11:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Bill, It is amazing the things you can have light bulb moments from.  I hadn’t thought about the cooler (esky) to keep things cool while brining especially since the fridge is already full of other goodies this time of year.  Thank you for sharing.

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