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ianeccleston

Anti-Brining

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A little bit of devil's advocacy here: don't brine. I've had chicken, pork chops, etc. that have been brined, and they sure stay juicy. However, brining waters down the taste, making it taste less succulent, chickeny or porky. And what about those over-brined pork chops that taste like ham?

Brining may avoid dry meat. But better options might be to

1) Cook it to the exact temperature necessary

2) Pre-salt, a la Judy Rogers

3) Buy well marbled meat

4) Don't freeze it!

5) Other techniques, for example super-high roasting, then super-low baking.

I know there are a lot of brining advocates out there on egullet. So tell me why the above is wrong (or right). I brine, I'll admit it. But it's tastier when I pre-salt.

Ian

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Thank you for saying this, Ian. I have pretty well given up brining in favour of presalting because I like the flavour much more. And, of course, the heirloom pork and real freerange chickens I can get at the farmer's market during the season don't need any fancy help.

Dianne

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Thank you for saying this, Ian. I have pretty well given up brining in favour of presalting because I like the flavour much more. And, of course, the heirloom pork and real freerange chickens I can get at the farmer's market during the season don't need any fancy help.

Dianne

Dianne makes a VERY good point here. The supermarket chickens and pork do need some help. But, I'm finding that the local organic stuff I get (sometimes I even find out what the name of the animal was) need far less help. THe pork is porkier, and not nearly so lean, so it really tastes like pork.

I also like Judy Roger's approach to salting in advance.

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Being a bottom-feeder on the pay scale, and not having a trust fund, I do have to respond with "cry me a river."

I unfortunately do shop for sales on industro-meat because that's what I can afford. So, I brine. I brine proudly. I will continue to brine proudly until I can afford my little 40 acres of heaven where I can grow my own animals and tell the industro-meat growers to go to hell and take their crappy products with them.

I'm also agnostic about the don't freeze it thing. There's freezing, and then there's freezing. The final product of a frozen meat does depend on how the freezing and storage was done.

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I've only tried brining once -- it was some recipe from Good Eats that had orange juice in the brine. I didn't think it made any difference, and the brine was a PITA -- extra time (a whole day!), expense, cleanup, etc. But I have some brining recipes from ATK that I think I'll give a try.

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I completely agree with the pre-salting technique over brining. The only downside is that brined meat tastes better than unbrined meat if you overcook it until it looks like a meteorite - so you have to properly cook your meat, that doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

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I like the pre salting, which makes the chicken taste like my mothers, since she presalted meat, it's called koshering. :biggrin:

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Is there anything more to "pre-salting" than just sprinkling salt on the meat?

Pat the meat dry, salt it, leave it on a rack in the fridge overnight to dry.

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What does pre-salting do -- as opposed to just sprinkling on the salt right before cooking? Is there a similar chemical reaction as with brining?

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What does pre-salting do -- as opposed to just sprinkling on the salt right before cooking? Is there a similar chemical reaction as with brining?

Its mostly osmotic dehydration - the salt draws water out of the meat, maybe concentrating the flavour some.

Don't cook your meat over 58C/135F internal temperature is the secret, unless its stews or BBQ in which case its 85C/185F.

Brining has its place, if you like that sort of thing, but its not a substitute for quality meat, not overcooked.

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Being a bottom-feeder on the pay scale, and not having a trust fund, I do have to respond with "cry me a river."

Yes, I do understand. I am a pensioner on a fixed income. But the folks at the farmer's market are competative with the super market. That is why I shop there.

And not everyone has that option.

Dianne

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What does pre-salting do -- as opposed to just sprinkling on the salt right before cooking? Is there a similar chemical reaction as with brining?

Its mostly osmotic dehydration - the salt draws water out of the meat, maybe concentrating the flavour some.

Don't cook your meat over 58C/135F internal temperature is the secret, unless its stews or BBQ in which case its 85C/185F.

Brining has its place, if you like that sort of thing, but its not a substitute for quality meat, not overcooked.

I'd still cook chicken past 135*F

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What does pre-salting do -- as opposed to just sprinkling on the salt right before cooking? Is there a similar chemical reaction as with brining?

Its mostly osmotic dehydration - the salt draws water out of the meat, maybe concentrating the flavour some.

Don't cook your meat over 58C/135F internal temperature is the secret, unless its stews or BBQ in which case its 85C/185F.

Brining has its place, if you like that sort of thing, but its not a substitute for quality meat, not overcooked.

With presalting the salt also works its way deep into the tissues making for some very nicely seasoned meat. I presalt most things, including barbecue if you include rubs as a way of presalting, but I brine pork belly. The cut lends itself nicely to the addition of some moisture and spicing that you can't achieve by mere salting.

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For some reason, I made no distinction between brining and pre-salting and wondered about the conclusions made at the following symposium: To Brine or Not to Brine? Given what's said here, the decision that brining is hogwash makes a lot more sense. Those who organized or attended the event might have more comments to add.

I find the advice given for pre-salted roasted chicken--and the paired bread salad--worth the cost of The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. I'm used to the dish now, but the first time I left the salted chicken sitting in the fridge for a couple of days and roasted it in a preheated cast iron skillet at the high temperature advised, I could not believe what a difference the method made.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

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ATK also said that salt helps denature proteins so that they hold moisture better, so I'd postulate that pre-salting also helps retain existing moisture.

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ATK also said that salt helps denature proteins so that they hold moisture better, so I'd postulate that pre-salting also helps retain existing moisture.

That's the same rationale for brining as explained in the brining thread. If the mechanism is the same then why would you want to pre-salt instead of brining? Pre-salt would not be able to penetrate as deeply as the brining.

I'd just like to hear a scientific explanation of why pre-salt is better than brining, or vice-versa.

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ATK also said that salt helps denature proteins so that they hold moisture better, so I'd postulate that pre-salting also helps retain existing moisture.

That's the same rationale for brining as explained in the brining thread. If the mechanism is the same then why would you want to pre-salt instead of brining? Pre-salt would not be able to penetrate as deeply as the brining.

Huh? Brining also adds liquid, and flavored at that.

edit - Actually I should probably revise -- I don't think brined meat weighs any more than non-brined before cooking if I recall correctly, but the flavored brine has infused the cells and whatever else will hold it with its flavors. That's the difference.


Edited by johnsmith45678 (log)

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That's the same rationale for brining as explained in the brining thread. If the mechanism is the same then why would you want to pre-salt instead of brining? Pre-salt would not be able to penetrate as deeply as the brining.

I'd just like to hear a scientific explanation of why pre-salt is better than brining, or vice-versa.

If the mechanism is the same then the reason for pre-salting rather than brining is to avoid the rubbery texture and ham-like flavor that brined meat has.

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That's the same rationale for brining as explained in the brining thread. If the mechanism is the same then why would you want to pre-salt instead of brining? Pre-salt would not be able to penetrate as deeply as the brining.

I'd just like to hear a scientific explanation of why pre-salt is better than brining, or vice-versa.

If the mechanism is the same then the reason for pre-salting rather than brining is to avoid the rubbery texture and ham-like flavor that brined meat has.

I don't think that rubbery texture and/or ham-like flavor are necessarily functions of brining; maybe of brining carelessly. The only time I ever encountered such qualities with meat I brined was when I forgot about a chicken, let it brine for 3 days and then cooked it anyway just to see how it would come out. It was basically corned at that point :biggrin:

But, I agree with what Jack said above. Brining definitely has it's place. Pre-salting is a useful technique too. I think it really depends on the type of meat and the specific application.

=R=

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brining is hogwash

only if pork is the meat in question, I presume? :biggrin:

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I'll argue that especially supermarket/ factory chickens shouldn't be brined, respectfully contrary to some comments above. These chickens already have a high water content from they way they are plucked & washed (compare to "smart" chickens, which are air-dried). Factory chickens' bland meat suffers more from the dilution of brining.

I too more often then not buy a regular chicken at the grocery store rather than something special, and more expensive. I'd still pre-salt rather than brine, which seems to help the meat stay juicy w/o adding extra water.

Lean pork chops, mm, tough one. I might consider brining in some cases (tenderloin on the grill, say), but the best solution is to cook until it just has a little pink left in the middle, not to 165F as the powers that be say.

Ian

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i've done a LOT of both. lately i've come around to a slight favor for presalting with chicken. the big factor for me, and one i've written about a lot on egullet is the utter fallacy of adding sugar to your brine. that is what creates the "hammy" flavor. do simply water and salt and you'll have a lot better results. i see sugar frequently called for in brine recipes and, in my experience, it is ALWAYS a bad idea.

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I find that presalting tends to make meat/poultry too salty. I am using kosher salt applied the way I'd normally salt ! Why is this?

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i've done a LOT of both. lately i've come around to a slight favor for presalting with chicken. the big factor for me, and one i've written about a lot on egullet is the utter fallacy of adding sugar to your brine. that is what creates the "hammy" flavor. do simply water and salt and you'll have a lot better results. i see sugar frequently called for in brine recipes and, in my experience, it is ALWAYS a bad idea.

I think over-brining, either through too much salt, or too long in the brine also gives it a "hammy" texture. Judy Roger's "house-cured" pork chops suffers from this -- after a brine of 3-5 days or some such thing. In her case, I'll assume that it's purposeful.

Ian

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