Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

ianeccleston

Anti-Brining

Recommended Posts

My thoughts on the subject here.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[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.

not so much. i spent a couple days with judy doing the whole pre-salt, brine thing and i don't think it's breaking any confidences that when she tasted the house-brine pork chops by themselves, in an analytical way, she was very disappointed. turns out it's the brine she learned from mark miller way back when and she'd never felt the need to change it. that brine, needless to say, has a LOT of sugar in it.

there was another interesting turn on this: the grill cook who cooked the pork chops (5 different treatments), overcooked them by about a minute or two. you could really tell the difference in the brined vs. the pre-salted. the brined were much moister.

edit: I should have pointed out that as soon as she tasted the brined chop, Judy vowed to have a new brine developed within a month, and that it would have much less--if any--sugar.


Edited by russ parsons (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been contending for years that brining meat gives it a deli meat quality.

I like watching Alton Brown and agree with him most of the time, but when it comes to brining, he and I part ways. I'm with Harold Mcgee on this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've been contending for years that brining meat gives it a deli meat quality.

I like watching Alton Brown and agree with him most of the time, but when it comes to brining, he and I part ways. I'm with Harold Mcgee on this.

What does Mr. McGee have to say about this? I'm curious...

Ian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a few, well, a lot of question about pre-salting. I know I should probably just try it but I like to get information from a lot of different sources, so if you're willing any answers are appreciated.

When pre-salting do you leave the meat uncovered in the fridge? If so, why, and why does the meat not dry out?

What kind of salt do you use? Does it matter?

What types of meat and cooking techniques is pre-salting most appropriate for and why?

Do you add any additional salt in the cooking phase of preparation?

Roughly how much salt do you use per unit weight or volume of meat?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've been contending for years that brining meat gives it a deli meat quality.

I like watching Alton Brown and agree with him most of the time, but when it comes to brining, he and I part ways. I'm with Harold Mcgee on this.

What does Mr. McGee have to say about this? I'm curious...

Ian

I thought for sure that Harold was part of the typical food scientist pro-brining camp. He completely blew me away when when he wrote otherwise in a Q&A a while back.

From the eGullet Q&A with Harold McGee

Though I agree that brining can produce meat that is remarkably juicy, I’m not a big fan of it and almost never do it. The meat and pan residues end up much saltier than I like, and the overall flavor one-dimensional. Brining is one effective way of coping with modern low-fat immature meat, but it amounts to making up for the meat’s tendency to become dry by filling it with salt water. For myself, I prefer to cook such meats gently and carefully to make the best of their own flavor and juice as much as possible.

Edited by scott123 (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a few, well, a lot of question about pre-salting. I know I should probably just try it but I like to get information from a lot of different sources, so if you're willing any answers are appreciated.

When pre-salting do you leave the meat uncovered in the fridge? If so, why, and why does the meat not dry out?

What kind of salt do you use? Does it matter?

What types of meat and cooking techniques is pre-salting most appropriate for and why?

Do you add any additional salt in the cooking phase of preparation?

Roughly how much salt do you use per unit weight or volume of meat?

yes, you should try it yourself.

1) yes, leave the meat uncovered. the surface will dry out, but that's what you want--wet meat won't form a crust (and wet chicken skin won't get crisp and brown).

2) type of salt doesn't matter so much except in terms of measurement.

3) i think it works best with beef and chicken for roasting. it does work for braising and frying, too.

4) season as needed, after having tasted.

5) judy says 1 teaspoon for every 1 1/2 pounds of meat, regardless of type. she does take care to sprinkle the salt a little more thickly on the thickest parts of the meat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a few, well, a lot of question about pre-salting. I know I should probably just try it but I like to get information from a lot of different sources, so if you're willing any answers are appreciated.

When pre-salting do you leave the meat uncovered in the fridge? If so, why, and why does the meat not dry out?

What kind of salt do you use? Does it matter?

What types of meat and cooking techniques is pre-salting most appropriate for and why?

Do you add any additional salt in the cooking phase of preparation?

Roughly how much salt do you use per unit weight or volume of meat?

yes, you should try it yourself.

1) yes, leave the meat uncovered. the surface will dry out, but that's what you want--wet meat won't form a crust (and wet chicken skin won't get crisp and brown).

2) type of salt doesn't matter so much except in terms of measurement.

3) i think it works best with beef and chicken for roasting. it does work for braising and frying, too.

4) season as needed, after having tasted.

5) judy says 1 teaspoon for every 1 1/2 pounds of meat, regardless of type. she does take care to sprinkle the salt a little more thickly on the thickest parts of the meat.

Russ~

I read your article about Judy and followed the directions given, but find that both chicken and steak seem way too salty. I am sure I used less than 1 tsp/1 1/2 lb meat............

Any insight?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

read again dock. she uses a tablespoon for every 4 1/2 pounds, which (unless my math is completely screwy--a very real possibility) is a teaspoon for every 1 1/2)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks a lot for your help russ, I will try some pre-salting soon! And your math seems fine to me, 3 teapsoons to a tablespoon and 3 times 1.5 equals 4.5.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
read again dock. she uses a tablespoon for every 4 1/2 pounds, which (unless my math is completely screwy--a very real possibility) is a teaspoon for every 1 1/2)

Hmmmmmm.... since I practice Judy Rodger's pre-salting scenario I had to check and my info comes from page 344 of Zuni Cafe cookbook - 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt per lb of chicken is what I see. Earlier in the same book she describes sea salt as that purchased from bulk bins and having the texture of coarse cornmeal (p.38). She compares the sea salt to kosher salt and says that depending on brand, the sea salt she uses can weigh as much as 1 1/4 to 2 times as much as kosher salt! This makes following Judy a very imprecise science. I use Diamond Crystal salt and use my judgement to pre-salt knowing it means a lot more salt than I would have used before I read Zuni Cafe. In fairness to Judy, she does comment that one ought to adjust to one's taste.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i have to confess that i never measure. i know what it looks like (normal salting for a chicken, actually) and i just sprinkle away. i've never had a problem with under- or over-salting. certainly not at the 1/4 teaspoon level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
i have to confess that i never measure. i know what it looks like (normal salting for a chicken, actually) and i just sprinkle away. i've never had a problem with under- or over-salting. certainly not at the 1/4 teaspoon level.

I do basically the same as you but I know that this is more salt than I would have used at one time. I especially like steak that is pre-salted and left in the fridge for a couple of days. It does seem to do something more than salting just before, during or after cooking -- science be damned. :biggrin:


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
read again dock. she uses a tablespoon for every 4 1/2 pounds, which (unless my math is completely screwy--a very real possibility) is a teaspoon for every 1 1/2)

I'm sorry, isn't that what I said? :sad:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
read again dock. she uses a tablespoon for every 4 1/2 pounds, which (unless my math is completely screwy--a very real possibility) is a teaspoon for every 1 1/2)

I'm sorry, isn't that what I said? :sad:

It is. My guess would be that you're using table salt or fine sea salt and the recipe wants kosher/coarse salt - either way, if you find it too salty use a bit less, it'll work just fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just cooked up some pork chops that I pre-salted. Tasted great. Next time I'll have to do a side by side with brine as well.

Whoa, should I pre-salt my steaks, too?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I just cooked up some pork chops that I pre-salted. Tasted great. Next time I'll have to do a side by side with brine as well.

Whoa, should I pre-salt my steaks, too?

absolutely, without a doubt. make no mistake. let there be no question (is that sufficiently positive?)

. . . but definitely do not brine them :smile:

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

and definitely do pepper them liberally at the same time!

(she was built for speed with the tools you need to make a new fool every day)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've been contending for years that brining meat gives it a deli meat quality.

I like watching Alton Brown and agree with him most of the time, but when it comes to brining, he and I part ways. I'm with Harold Mcgee on this.

What does Mr. McGee have to say about this? I'm curious...

Ian

I thought for sure that Harold was part of the typical food scientist pro-brining camp. He completely blew me away when when he wrote otherwise in a Q&A a while back.

From the eGullet Q&A with Harold McGee

Though I agree that brining can produce meat that is remarkably juicy, I’m not a big fan of it and almost never do it. The meat and pan residues end up much saltier than I like, and the overall flavor one-dimensional. Brining is one effective way of coping with modern low-fat immature meat, but it amounts to making up for the meat’s tendency to become dry by filling it with salt water. For myself, I prefer to cook such meats gently and carefully to make the best of their own flavor and juice as much as possible.

McGee's comment also caught me off guard despite its plain truth. It also got me to thinking about how my brined chickens seem moist enough, but don't really achieve a nice crisp on the skin (though maybe I just need to towel them off more?). Finally, I ate a Costco roast chicken last week that seemed to epitomize everything that was wrong with brining -- really salty yet insipid, moist but almost raw texture, and a weird starchiness or collageny-ness that made the teeth stick. Those three things made me want to convert to the pre-salting school for chicken. And so here I am, perusing the curricula.

But a few questions to clarify:

- do people apply the salt to the skin or under the skin? to the inside cavity?

- how long is long enough? overnight seems to be the standard, but can it be less? so if i'm trying to roast a chicken asap (say i just got off work) i should stick with a quick brine?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But a few questions to clarify:

- do people apply the salt to the skin or under the skin?  to the inside cavity?

- how long is long enough?  overnight seems to be the standard, but can it be less?  so if i'm trying to roast a chicken asap (say i just got off work) i should stick with a quick brine?

For a chicken, I'd sprinkle the salt on the skin and rub lightly to distribute. A couple dashes inside as well. Judy Rogers recommends salting 1-3 days prior for a small chicken, longer for different types of meat and larger cuts. She also has a tendency to take that time to infuse with whatever herbs or other seasonings -- lemon zest, capers, fresh herbs, etc.

jmolinari, knowing that you are a bbq guy, it occurs to me that it is not unlike putting a rub on a slab of ribs several days prior...

As for salting in a shorter timeframe, I'll have to bullshit a little. Critics of pre-salting say that it draws moisture out of the meat. That's true in the short-term. What ends up happening in the long-term, however, is that as you cure the meat the proteins will hold in the moisture better, so your net is juicier meat. However, I'm not sure what happens in that in-between period, where you've drawn out some moisture but haven't cured the meat fully. Personally, I'll put some salt on the chicken for an hour and call it a day rather than brining. In that case I might put some under the skin. For a steak, I'd put salt on it an hour prior too. That's just my own fumbling in the kitchen though...

Ian


Edited by ianeccleston (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

recently, i have been using a mix of salt/sugar/a little cinnamon/and cumin on flank steak for about two hours before grilling. i actually wash the mixture off the meat, pat dry and grill. really good results and juicey flavourful steak.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...