I get a lot of questions about cooking, and one that comes up A LOT is “why is it that even though I cooked a piece of meat entirely submerged in liquid, it comes out dry?” The bets metaphor I have for this is that proteins squeeze out liquid as they cook. Its like a hand holding a wet sponge. As the proteins (the hand) cook, they squeeze down, in the process liquid is forced out of the cells (the sponge)
How do you stop this?
Do the meat like Davy Jones
Things You Should Have
-A large container with a lid or a large pan and plastic wrap to cover
-A large pot, at least 2 gallons
One of the biggest culprits of being to dry is pork. Its porous nature that lends it so well to marinades also tends to make it susceptible to drying out. This recipe will not be for a specific cooking method (I will cover a few at the end though) but the process of brining the meat. This simple brine will work well for all types of meat, especially those to be roasted over a long period of time.
This will make roughly 2 gallons of brine
-Pork Loin, How ever many inches, or feet, of pork you require. Get the untrimmed kind, its usually cheaper and the fat cap on it lends good flavor.
–Salt, the type isn’t important, dont go broke buying quality sea salts for this, you’ll need 2.5 cups
–Sugar, plain white or brown sugar will work, you’ll need 2.5 cups
–Cinnamon, whole sticks are preferred, you can use ground if you like, 5 sticks, about 1 tablespoon ground
–Cloves, use whole cloves, about one tablespoon
–Apple Cider Vinegar, you’ll want one cup
–Liquid, water is the obvious default, but clear soda works very well when it comes to making a brine, especially for pork due to its tendency to work well with sweet flavors, I prefer ginger ale if I’m using soda, you want one gallon of liquid
–Ice, the function of the ice is more hardware then software, but its essential, you want one ten pound bag
–Do Work Son!–
1) Put the pot on the stove over medium heat, put in the cloves and the cinnamon and let it cook for about 4 minutes, you’ll know when its done when you can smell both strongly
2) Dump your liquid into the pot, turn the heat to high and bring it to a boil
3) While the liquid heats up find your container, you want the container to be just big enough for the meat, with high sides so the brine doesn’t spill out
4) Once boiling add the salt and sugar and to the liquid and stir until both are entirely dissolved
5) Dump the salt and sugar mixture into the container, add in the vinegar and then dump the ice in
6) Stir until the ice is melted, the idea is to rapidly bring down the temperature of the brine while simultaneously adding in more water
7) Add in your meat
8) Seal up the container and park it into your fridge for 2-5 days
Brining works great for large roasted meats, anything with a long cooking time. Whole turkeys and whole chickens are great brined as well.
You can play around with the flavor profiles a lot too. Some dried chilis, cumin seeds, an oregano would make for a great tex mex brine. Think of your target flavor, then think of what herbs, spices, and aromatics are associated with it.
Roasting is not the only process that does well with brined meats. Grilling, smoking, and even frying (especially in the case of turkey) are all great ways to cooked brined meats.