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What's with brining ... ?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm certainly not dismissing the technique, but I do have a question. While I know why certain meats are brined - to add moisture and flavor - it seems that brining is something fairly new on the culinary scene. I don't recall it being used much, if at all, fifteen or twenty years ago. Has brining gained favor because the taste, moisture, fat content, or whatever in meat has gotten so that the meat needs some help to make it taste better? IOW, is brining used so frequently because the quality of the meat has changed over the years?

I don't notice the pork and poultry I buy to need any help in the flavor and moisture department.

Some thoughts on the process: http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/open-...ntroversy.html
post #2 of 15
Modern pork has been bred to be very lean. This leads to a drier cooked product unless it is first brined. It is possible to find old breed pork but it isn't very common.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Well, based on what you've said in the past, it seems you would have trouble finding "old breed" pork. However, such pork seems to be more available in many places - maybe that's why the pork I get doesn't seem to need brining. It's not that white meat stuff - it's nice and pink/red and marbled pretty well.

But what about chicken and turkey? Same thing? Again, the chickens here are pretty flavorful - can only speak for turkey thighs, and they're pretty good as well, but I've no brined bird to compare them to.
post #4 of 15
I buy pork from a friend who raises the old breeds. Organic and locally butchered. Grocery store pork is mass produced in confinement buildings and it literally tastes like pig **** to me. I get chickens and turkeys from the same friend also so I can't compare either.
post #5 of 15
I've brined turkeys and I've not brined turkeys. Chickens and pork too. Brined meat is moister. But I tend to agree with Harold McGee on this in that brined meat doesn't really taste like that particular meat anymore. There are certainly times I don't mind that flavor shift or when it's even desirable as a carrier for other flavors.

But for a classic roasted turkey or chicken, I prefer them not brined. Even the mass produced meats have a more meaty flavor when not brined and cooked carefully to proper doneness.

So while brining is all the rage, I don't think it's that incredible of a technique or insight into cooking.

However, you should try it once so you learn the technique and how it affects flavor. You might prefer it.

Phil
post #6 of 15
You hear about brining a lot this time of year as people get ready to Thanksgiving. Brining helps to keep the breast moist even if slightly overcooked. It is a very "easy" way to make sure you've cooked your turkey so that the thighs are done and the breast is still somewhat moist. You can also use brining as a delivery vehicle for other flavors. Sometimes I like to use and sometimes I don't, really all depends on my mood. It's a very trendy technique right now and I think it gets used too often but as I said earlier it definately has a place in my kitchen.
http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #7 of 15
Shel, Brining has been around for 100's of years and was used as a way to preserve meats originally and as the process became shorter, from days to hours, it became a way to tenderize meat and add flavor. When you brine a piece of meat it is to bring flavor to it first thru marination, tenderize second by breaking down the muscle in tough pieces of meat, and lastly to help keep it moist in leaner pieces. As stated before you hear about it more this time of the year because of turkey and pork use is much higher and ppl brine turkeys for flavor and moisture in the white meat and pork to help with flavor tenderizing and moisture in traditionally tough pork. You should try it before you knock it...
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Sheesh! I didn't knock it ...
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
I have tried brined meat, but have not brined any myself. Some pork we had up at the CIA was real good, and I think it was brined - could have just been marinated.
post #10 of 15
Brining for moisture retention:

Part of the problem with some of these double muscled pigs that have the high stress gene used in mass production is that not only is it not sustainably raised the whole scenario gives you pork that has 1.a different muscle fiber than let's say Berkshire and does not hold moisture as well 2. a PH level that is lower thus working against moisture retention and 3. a really lean product to boot!

Thus brining helps this type of in reality inferior pork. We are working closely with Bill Niman with his new venture BN RANCH, since leaving Niman Ranch, and had some of the organically grown Berkshire/Chester White cross from Jude Becker's Iowa farm and it literally blew us away- no brine needed.

When I want white meat I'll have chicken thank you! :D

When I use top quality meat and am going to smoke I will make a brine for moisture retention over the long haul or a curing brine with nitrite for bacon or ham.

Occassionally I'll do a flavor brine on good meat just to impart a different flavor characteristic.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
This is very good to know. Although I used Niman products, I was moving away from them becausse the quality seemed to be suffering. It's very exciting to know that some more of the heirloom pigs may be coming to California.

BTW, Elk Grove was the very first California town I stopped in when I came west - July 5, 1966. One of the women I was travelling with grew up there, and we stopped at her parent's ranch. It's where I saw my first cow close up.
post #12 of 15

brining?

when it comes to brining, my rule of thumb is this ...

the hotter the cooking temperature, the more i am
inclined to brine.

i feel hotter cooking temperatures drive out more moisture,
therefore brining adds moisture so the net loss of moisture is
not as great.

therefore, fried pork chops are brined, roasted pork is not.

turkey roasted at 350 degrees in the oven is brined,
turkey in a bbq smoker at 250 degrees is not.
post #13 of 15
BTW, Elk Grove was the very first California town I stopped in when I came west - July 5, 1966. One of the women I was travelling with grew up there, and we stopped at her parent's ranch. It's where I saw my first cow close up.[/QUOTE]

In 1966 my father in law was in charge of 8000 head of cattle in Elk Grove on his parent's ranch. may I ask the last name of your friend? She may be my wife's aunt- wouldn't that be weird?:bounce:

Check out BN RANCH (Bill Niman) on our web site Welcome to Preferred Meats-
post #14 of 15
I get all of my meat from Polyface farm (if you follow Pollan, you probably know this farm). Because of the way these animals are raised, the meat is all very lean. I always have to brine their pork b/c the meat is so lean and dries very quickly.

Even though I get very high quailty meat from a very diverse farm with many different breeds, I still find that brining makes the product that much better.

The chicken is incredibly delicious, and it just that much better after a good soak.
post #15 of 15
Because of the way these animals are raised, the meat is all very lean. I always have to brine their pork b/c the meat is so lean and dries very quickly.

Melis, Jude Becker's pork from Bill Niman's Farmer Network is certified Organic and incredibly moist, juicy, and with a good amount of fat- you can raise them right and still not have lean dry meat- I would check the breed they are using and what they are feeding, good husbandry does not always equate with a need to help the meat out to be full flavored with a good amount of fat, especially in pork. ;)
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