Essential Guide to Brining Before Smoking Meat
You could hunt or buy the best meat on the market, but it won’t come out astonishingly great unless it’s been through the process of brining. Brining is quite essentially the game changer over here. It leads to juicy, flavorful results. You will never feel like you have chewed something that might have been made out of the sand. Therefore, brining is practiced by all professional chefs without any reservations. It’s something that you will be both smitten and satisfied with. You can forget all the laundry list of ingredients. All you really need is salt and water to enhance the taste of your meat. So, let’s press on to this brining guide.
Brining: Is it easy?
Brining is an easy-as-pie procedure. If you can steal candy from a three-year-old, you can do brining as well. It’s that easy. As mentioned before, the basic ingredients required for brining is minimal —salt and water. Optionally, other flavoring agents or spices can be used to enhance the taste and flavor of the meat further. Of course, you will need other essentials as well such as good food-grade container and space in your refrigerator to store the container for a day or two. With these basic items, you should be set for brining. So, the requirement for brining is nowhere close to a science project. Therefore, you could be brining your way to better and consistent quality meat with no fuss at all.
Rules for Brining
As such, there are no rules etched in stone over here. However, it’s important to give enough time for the magic to work. In other words, allow a day or two for the ingredients to be thoroughly infused into the meat. The meat should be able to soak everything in a day or two to deliver savory, finger-licking results. Remember, proper brining also reduces cooking time. So, your best bet would be to brine the meat a day or two in advance before the actually cooking to be sure that you are not left in a spot, where you won’t get full rewards for your efforts. So, you don’t have to be a food scientist over here. All you need is some degree of advance planning to get juicy meat with good flavors. Make sense, isn’t it? Now, let’s get to the brining process.
- Calculate the Amount of Liquid Needed
Folks out there measure the meat, salt, and water to determine the exact specs for brining. If you value your time, keep things simple. Simply place your meat in a container and pour water into the container until the meat is completely submerged. At this point, measure the amount of water, and discard the water. Now, you will be refilling the container with the same amount of fresh water that was discarded by you.
- Stir Things Up
The next step is to pour salt in the container. The general rule of thumb is to use a cup of salt for every gallon of water. For smaller quantity of meat, one can use a teaspoon of salt for every cup of water. Go ahead and stir the solution well, until the salt is completely dissolved in the water. Then, let the water sit idle for few hours. The night before you intend to smoke the meat, add desired flavorings to the brine. You can throw in some smashed peppercorns or garlic clove. You can also try apple juice or citrus. Any herb, spice, fruit, vegetable, or sweeter can do the trick over here.
- Add Meat
Now, let the lead hero arrive. Yes, it’s time to add meat to the container. Once done, seal the lid, and place it in your refrigerator. This is a must because no part of the meat should be exposed to the open air. You can use some heavy object to keep it down. If the meat is sticking out, it will pave the way for some scary bacteria. Finally, let it brine overnight. The standard rule states that you should brine the meat for roughly one hour per pound. So, never brine the meat for too long because it will make it a bit non-appetizing.
- Start Smoking
Get the smoker fired up at the correct temperature. Once it’s all set, remove the meat and rinse it off nicely, both from the inside and outside. Get rid of the remaining brine. Never reuse the brine to avoid health risks. Once the meat is thrown in the smoker, be ready for a meal of a lifetime. Upon generous contact with the smoker, the meat loses some amount of moisture. Thanks to the brining process, it still comes out juicier and tastier.
Refrain from using iodized salt because it can ruin the natural flavor of the meat. Furthermore, it can also discolor the meat. So, stick with kosher salt. Also, you must always brine in the refrigerator to stay immune from undesirable bacteria. Oh! I almost forget. There’s a simple trick to measure the concentration of water and salt used for brining. All you need to do is take a raw egg and drop it gently into the brine water. If the egg floats, then you should know that you have an ideal brine solution, which is ready to accept the meat as well.
If all this sound likes a good thing to you, get ready to make your meat better than EVER before. Remember, the only limit to successful brining is your imagination. Goes without saying, custom brine solutions are always a healthy surprise. So, keep the creative juices flowing and experiment a bit with different ingredients and flavors. Open up your spice cabinet and get going. You are sure to find many candidates for brining, which will do a pretty good job of flavor enhancement. So, enjoy the juicy, tasty meat along with good flavor with some basic kitchen ingredients. Try it out and be the judge for yourself!