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Why don't we brine beef?


&roid
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Over the holidays I've done a rack of pork and a whole goose, both of which benefited greatly from a 12-24 hour soak in brine. Which got me thinking... Is there a reason we don't brine beef like this? I'm not talking about cured meat like corned beef, just a relatively short brining the way we do with poultry/pork

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Beef is fattier than white poultry meat or lean pork so brining isn't as helpful to keep it moist.

 

I bet sous vide gradually replaces brining for poultry. Results are way better.

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Give it a try.

 

I've done a 24-48 hour brine on brisket before. It was lots of work. The problem was the end product cooked much differently than a normal piece and it turned out overcooked. But what was there was tasty.

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I've wrestled with this question before and the short answer is: Because it doesn't need it.

 

You would never want to brine a beef tenderloin,  It is already tender enough.  Any more and you have mush.

 

I suspect it also relates to the cooking temperatures we're needing.  Pork and chicken are cooked to much higher temps than beef.  This is where brining tends to shine.

 

But I think I would refuse to accept that *some* cut of beef couldn't benefit by brining.

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I suspect it also relates to the cooking temperatures we're needing.  Pork and chicken are cooked to much higher temps than beef.  This is where brining tends to shine.

 

Agree.

 

I also think it has to do with the fact that brining modifies texture. Even low-salt percentage brining promotes salt-soluble miofibrillar proteins to leave the meat fibers and "glue" them, one of the basis of charcuterie. Because culturally we tend to prefer less cooked beef this "cured" texture is less accepted in beef than in pork and chicken, as it feels like brined beef is not "as fresh". Because pork and chicken have been traditionally cooked at a higher temperature, the higher juiciness effect of brining kind of "compensates" the change in texture, but not so much in beef.

Edited by EnriqueB (log)
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Interesting that a friend just returned from visiting her in-laws in Oregon, and she reported that they served a brined london broil, which she reported as the best ever. It was brined for about 4 hours and then grilled, she said, and had terrific flavor and texture.

 

Alas, it's not grilling weather here.

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

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Interesting that a friend just returned from visiting her in-laws in Oregon, and she reported that they served a brined london broil, which she reported as the best ever. It was brined for about 4 hours and then grilled, she said, and had terrific flavor and texture.

 

Alas, it's not grilling weather here.

 

Interesting indeed.  A ;London broil would seem to be a plausible candidate for brining.  But I would think the goal would be to extend cooking in order to break it down, rather than what I imagine when I think of grilling (hot and fast like broiling).  I think I'll be keeping my eye out for deals on London broils..

Edited by IndyRob (log)
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&droid, I'm glad you bring this up!

I've been brining beef for years, and I seem to be the only one, anywhere...

For small steaks, I prefer a quick spice rub, and equally quick cooking. For large cuts; Brisket, whole chuck roasts...etc., I almost always give it 24-36hrs. of soak in a heavy brine. I find that over the course of smoking or braising for long periods, the brining helps retain moisture that most people would replace with some kind of sauce. Although I love a good sauce, I sometimes just want beef-flavored beef, ya know?

I'm the weirdo who will occasionally just brine and oven roast an entire brisket....to be carved and eaten like a good prime rib....

I'm a lifelong professional chef. If that doesn't explain some of my mental and emotional quirks, maybe you should see a doctor, and have some of yours examined...

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