Chef's Blog

August 24, 2012

Brine for Maximum Flavor

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Do you like moist, flavorful poultry? How about moist, flavorful beef brisket? Or extra, flavorful shrimp? All of these and so much more can be achieved through the process of brining. Brining proteins results in juicy, full flavored product with just a few easy steps.

Naturally, protein cells want to have an equal balance of salt on both sides of their cell walls. So, when a cut of protein is submerged in brine the cells of the protein pull in the salt from the brine solution. In doing so two things happen. One, the salt that is absorbed into the cells now begins to pull the liquid from the brine into the marinating protein. Two, the salt actually changes the structure of the protein allowing it to hold on to the liquid that it absorbed from the brine throughout the cooking process.

Here’s a tip: A basic brine ratio is three gallons of water or flavorful liquid, 3 cups of salt, 1 cup of sugar. For best results bring brine to a boil and cool completely before using. Brine your protein for about 1 hour per pound of meat. It’s as easy as that!
For the most flavorful results try boiling the brine with additional ingredients. For example, for skin-on, eight cut chicken I like to add MINOR’S® Low Sodium Chicken Base, MINOR’S Roasted Garlic Flavor Concentrate, lemon slices, and MINOR’S Herb de Provence Flavor Concentrate to the basic brine. After the bird has been brined, dry it off completely, toss with some olive oil, and then roast it until golden brown. No additional salt should be needed due to the brining. By using this basic technique you can create a great flavor foundation to various proteins. Create a Chipotle beef brine for BBQ brisket or a roasted mirepoix and sage brine for your thanksgiving turkey. The possibilities are endless!

Great food boils down to two things. The first is using quality ingredients. The second is applying the appropriate techniques. As chefs and cooks it is our responsibility and opportunity to do both.

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