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May 19, 2007 11:15 AM

Brining Opinions?

I'm a part-time briner of the leaner meats, but I'm kind of mixed on it. On the one hand it's always deliciously juicy and I believe it brings out the natural meat flavor. But on the other it does leave you with a cured meat texture and sometimes an overly salty meat.

Do you brine? and if so what meats?
Are you a convert to/from brining? what made you switch?
What are your proportions? any flavors added?

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  1. I always brine chickens before roasting. No cured taste at all. I use three cups of Diamond Kosher salt to 12 qts water. Makes a nice juicy bird. Chicken must be dried like a baby when it comes out of the brine (and rinsed) or the skin will not crisp well. I also heat the roasting pan on the stove top with a little oil, drop the birds on it's sizzling surface and cook in the oven at 500 degrees.

    4 Replies
    1. re: serveitforth

      I was referring to the texture, which seems to have the chew of a cured ham rather than a natural muscle grain.

      1. re: kindofabigdeal

        It sounds as though you may be brining a bit too long?

        I brine poultry, usually overnight but never for more than 12 hours (that's for a turkey) and usually more like 4 or 6 hours for a regular sized chicken.

        For pork chops and the like, I go for more like 2 hours.

        I think Alton Brown has some very good ideas about brining in terms of both recipes and duration. If you search him on the foodnetwork's site you'll find a whole bunch of recipes.

        1. re: ccbweb

          My most recent brine was thick pork chops for about 1.5 hours with a brine of 3/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup sugar to one gallon of water.

          1. re: kindofabigdeal

            I've noticed what you're talking about occasionally before... sort of a 'corned beef' texture. I honestly think ccbweb's on the right track with that. I'm pretty sure the times I've ended up with corned pork instead of tender pork have been times I used too much or the wrong kind of salt, or had to leave the meat in the brine for too long.

    2. I like to brine boneless/skinless chicken breasts for the grill (about the only way I like them). This normally almost flavorless cut becomes something very tasty. I pound them to an even thickness then they go into a rather mild brine in a zip lock bag for only half an hour. They grill very quickly and are very juicy and flavorfull... I think I got this orginally from an Alton Brown show but I'm not sure....

      1. Would you believe that brining shrimp for 30 minutes will produce the most succulent, tasty shrimp ever, regardless of your cooking method. I really think it's well worth the effort. For one pound of shrimp I use 1/4 cup kosher salt, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 quarts water. Place your peeled, deveined shrimp in the solution and let sit at room temp for 30 minutes. Drain, dry, and cook. I learned this from a guest chef on Sara Moulton's show several years ago. Also, I tried this method for brining a whole chicken for roasting, recently, and it worked quite well: Rub chicken with generous amount of kosher salt and wrap in damp paper towels. Refrigerate in pan for several hours. Rinse, pat dry, and roast.

        1. I've brined only chickens. I add about a tablespoon of Frank's Hot (wing) Sauce and a few peppercorns to the salt and water, never use sugar for my low carb-ing diabetic wife. Cook em beer can style outside on a hot grill. I set the bird/can assembly on a cast iron skillet so the dripping fat does not flame/char the bird.

          1. I brine all chickens and turkeys to be roasted. Chickens take a couple of hours, our Thankgiving turkey which is always about 20+ pounds, takes about a day. I'm a convert to brining poultry because it definitely makes the meat more moist. I've also brined lean pork (crown roast or similar loin roasts) and wouldn't do pork any other way - it's just too lean for my tastes.

            If I'm not going to roast the poultry or pork, I usually don't brine, I cook over high heat and make sure it's not overcooked.

            I don't get overly salty meat, perhaps you're brining for too long as other have suggested. I brined some salmon once for way too long and ended up with a very chewy piece of fish which was inedible because of the amount of salt in it.

            I've tried adding flavors but I don't think they make much difference. For a turkey I probably make up about 4-5 gallons of brine. To add flavoring would require a lot of additions, more than I think is worth it. I usually use a rub for chickens, sometimes a rub for the turkey too, or I'll season under the skin and inside the cavity.