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Pork Brine calls for Whiskey - raw alcohol?


Robenco15
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A pork brine from Gray Kunz’s Elements of Taste calls for a cup of whiskey, then differing amounts of mustard, honey, salt, and paprika. No water. Combine all of that and then pour over pork tenderloin medallions and allow to brine in the refrigerator overnight. 
 

My understanding has always been that raw alcohol will cook the exterior of the meat as it marinates (in this case brines). Is this an exception? Does anyone else find this a bit odd? I guess I’ll find out tomorrow 🤷‍♂️ 

 

For what it’s worth, I did try to burn off the alcohol and after 5 minutes it reduced to a third of a cup. I then topped it off back to a cup with whiskey because I thought my experiment failed. Maybe next time I should just top it off with water?

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19 minutes ago, Robenco15 said:

My understanding has always been that raw alcohol will cook the exterior of the meat as it marinates (in this case brines). Is this an exception? Does anyone else find this a bit odd? I guess I’ll find out tomorrow 🤷‍♂️ 

I think this is incorrect.

It's acid that cooks the exterior of the meat, not alcohol.

Lemon or lime juice, for example, in Ceviche, "cooks" the meat.

I use beer and wine for my brines/marinades and it never cooks the meat...just infuses it with great flavor.

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Tim Oliver

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So I’ll admit, I’m basing my information off Thomas Keller and his French Laundry cookbook when he discusses red wine marinade for meat. He says alcohol will toughen the exterior of the meat and slightly cook it.

 

Maybe he’s wrong? The more I research the more I’m finding conflicting info. 

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Yes I would have been inclined to do as written although the tenderloins I get are quite tender.with just a quick marinade. We briefly broil them for 15 minutes or so. A darker part of the pig - so flavorful already. Loin - the white stuff  different.

Edited by heidih (log)
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2 minutes ago, heidih said:

Yes I would have been inclined to do as written although the tenderloins I get are quite tender.with just a quick marinade. We briefly broil them for 15 minutes or so. A darker part of the pig - so flavorful already. Loin - the white stuff  different.


Technically he refers to it as a brine so I wonder if the intent is different than a marinade. It calls for 1/4 cup salt to go along with the cup of whiskey and another cup of honey and mustard mixture. 

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11 minutes ago, Robenco15 said:


Technically he refers to it as a brine so I wonder if the intent is different than a marinade. It calls for 1/4 cup salt to go along with the cup of whiskey and another cup of honey and mustard mixture. 

 

Why I asked if it was the lighter loin which can be dry and to me less flavorful (thus needing assistance) or the darker strip; 

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3 minutes ago, heidih said:

 

Why I asked if it was the lighter loin which can be dry and to me less flavorful (thus needing assistance) or the darker strip; 

Ah, I see. On the whiter side? I’ve never thought about it. Store bought two to a package tenderloins. Nothing fancy/special. 

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OK I think you got that 2 pack of the dark pink that taper.on one end. Honestly I would cut off a couple inches, season lightly and cook quickly - get a feel for it. My dad & wife always have it around from Costco  maybe 4 pack but I am the designated driver of the prep.  Dont want to overthink this cut in my opinion. 

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12 minutes ago, heidih said:

OK I think you got that 2 pack of the dark pink that taper.on one end. Honestly I would cut off a couple inches, season lightly and cook quickly - get a feel for it. My dad & wife always have it around from Costco  maybe 4 pack but I am the designated driver of the prep.  Dont want to overthink this cut in my opinion. 

Yeah that’s it. I’ve been cooking that for years. Not looking for help cooking it, was just curious about the use of raw alcohol in the brine. 

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2 hours ago, Toliver said:

I think this is incorrect.

It's acid that cooks the exterior of the meat, not alcohol.

Lemon or lime juice, for example, in Ceviche, "cooks" the meat.

I use beer and wine for my brines/marinades and it never cooks the meat...just infuses it with great flavor.

 

Right - (though my biochem past is ancient) alcohol is neither an acid or a base in normal circumstances. Don't fret. 

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11 hours ago, Robenco15 said:

So I’ll admit, I’m basing my information off Thomas Keller and his French Laundry cookbook when he discusses red wine marinade for meat. He says alcohol will toughen the exterior of the meat and slightly cook it.

 

Maybe he’s wrong? The more I research the more I’m finding conflicting info. 

most red wine (or wine in general) has quite a bit of acidity, so I wonder if taht's what's cooking the exterior of the meat, rather than the alcohol?  I've made gravlax before that has vodka or gin as part of the cure and it doesn't cook the fish.

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14 hours ago, Robenco15 said:

Ah, I see. On the whiter side? I’ve never thought about it. Store bought two to a package tenderloins. Nothing fancy/special. 

 

I'm confused.  Tenderloin has only one color (muscle). Some pork loin has two colors (muscles).

 

Which are we discussing?

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21 minutes ago, gfweb said:

 

I'm confused.  Tenderloin has only one color (muscle). Some pork loin has two colors (muscles).

 

Which are we discussing?

I thought maybe there was a term co fusion. The answer he gave indicates when I mentioned Costco multi-pack indicates tenderloin. 

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acidity 'denatures' protein - as does heat....

 

the pH level of wines, distilled spirits/alcohol, lemon juice, lime juice . . . are all pretty close to each other in the 2-3 range.

drop an egg into hi-proof booze and you can watch the whites congeal, etc. etc.

the effect is there - but relative quantity also enters the picture.

 

what is perhaps more of effect is the change in osmosis when using alcohol containing marinades/brines.....

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On 12/10/2020 at 8:38 AM, KennethT said:

most red wine (or wine in general) has quite a bit of acidity, so I wonder if taht's what's cooking the exterior of the meat, rather than the alcohol?  I've made gravlax before that has vodka or gin as part of the cure and it doesn't cook the fish.

I was thinking the same when i heard wine, as it comes from fermented grapes which are acidic. I never had alcohol cook or toughen meats. One of my favorite salmon recipes uses a honey and bourbon brine. Always turned out moist and flakey.

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30 minutes ago, AlaMoi said:

"pure" alcohol is rather "neutral" in the classic definition of pH.

however, alcohol . . .mixed in a solution of other liquids, may/can/will be acidity or basic.

 

one of those "it depends" situations.

Another "claim" is alcohol brings out flavors of foods that would otherwise not come out. Specificly tomatoes when making pasta with Vodka sauce. I can't say my pallette noticed a difference making the sauce without vodka. However, i am aware that alcohol (80 proof or higher) will pull out flavors in fruits and vegetables over a long period of time. But i am not buying the quick cook off of alcohol in food dishes.

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