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Brining: Meat Insurance

Posted by on May. 2, 2014 at 12:00 AM
  • 32 Replies

There are few things more disappointing than this: You, your spouse or your friends have been manning the grill and the appetizing scents of flame-cooked meat have been making your mouth water. Finally, the meat is done. You grab a pork chop or chicken breast and -- gak. It's so dry you can hardly chew it.

There's a magic trick to avoid that scenario that takes no skill, no equipment beyond a zipper bag and some fridge space, and a little bit of time and planning ahead. That trick? Brining! And as a bonus, it adds flavor to your food.

Brining is, simply, the act of soaking meat in a saltwater solution (the brine) for a period of time, so the salty water penetrates the meat, seasons it, and most importantly helps it hold on to its juices during cooking. I think of it as insurance for your meat, because if you err a little too much on the side of caution and overcook a bit, you'll still have juicy meat. Lean meats like pork loin chops and chicken breasts go from delicious to sawdust in about two seconds on the grill, so that insurance is important.

According to Fine Cooking, the general formula is 1T salt and 1T sugar (which helps with browning) for each cup of water. For four chicken breasts or pork chops, you'll need about 4 cups or so. Mix up your brine, put your meat in a quart-size zipper bag, pour the brine over, squeeze out all the air as you seal the bag, and let it sit in the fridge for no more than a couple of hours.

You can and should add other stuff to your brine. Garlic cloves, herbs, and lemon slices are all favorites of mine, but experiment with just about anything you think sounds yummy. Just stay away from spice blends that contain salt because that will make the finished dish too salty.

Have you tried brining? What are your favorite flavors to add to your brine?

Image ŠIStockPhoto/herreid


by on May. 2, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Replies (1-10):
campingmomof4
by Bronze Member on May. 2, 2014 at 7:00 AM

 I brine my fresh turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.   Best turkey I have had made. 

michiganmom116
by Rhonda on May. 2, 2014 at 7:04 AM

Personally not a fan of brined meat.

We use marinades to keep dry cuts of meat moist on the grill.

batjmom
by Sarah on May. 2, 2014 at 7:58 AM
I brine turkey. I use salt, sugar, peppercorns, thyme, poultry seasoning, garlic, sage.

For other meat I usually just marinate
SweetLuci
by Gold Member on May. 2, 2014 at 9:07 AM

 I like to brine pork and chicken. When I had my restaurant, we brined our chicken before frying and won many awards for best fried chicken. 

megandwade
by Silver Member on May. 2, 2014 at 9:18 AM
Same here..
Quoting michiganmom116:

Personally not a fan of brined meat.

We use marinades to keep dry cuts of meat moist on the grill.

rosesink
by New Member on May. 3, 2014 at 4:23 AM

I brine turkeys , chickens and pork chops. I use brown sugar instead of white sugar and I unbrine afterward.  That is to say I rinse my brined meat before I cook it and then let it soak in clear water for 5 minutes brfore cooking.  That way (especially with turkey cause I use the dripings for gravy) it is not to salty tasting.

terri76
by Gold Member on May. 3, 2014 at 9:22 PM
I have never brined my meat before
elasmimi
by on May. 5, 2014 at 7:28 AM

I only discovered brining a few years ago, and it changed my whole attitude about chicken breasts! It's amazing the difference it makes. I like to add lemon, but never tried the sugar. I brine all my poultry, not just for grilling.

goddess99
by Bronze Member on May. 5, 2014 at 8:28 AM

I've never tried that.

RobynS
by Bronze Member on May. 5, 2014 at 8:31 AM

I haven't tried it, but maybe I will... :)

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