Monday, June 18, 2007
Brine, or the Magic of the Dead Sea right here in your kitchen!
I am a huge fan of moisturizer. I have been as long as i can remember. I slather the stuff on from head to toe. This is one of the things that Mothra etched into my skull at a young age (that and drinking so much water a day that i’m surprised i haven't floated away yet). You’ve got one skin, take care of it. so i do; religiously. I’m fighting age as fiercely as i can without doing ridiculous things like going under the knife or laser or (and this one scares the crap out of me) willingly injecting poison into my head . You have got to be totally deranged to do that.
So there’s this big market out there for Dead Sea products, moisturizers made with water from the Dead Sea, which may or may not be all they claim to be. I don’t think i’ll venture to find out, although if you are currently using them and they really are the source of the Fountain of Youth, please don’t hesitate to tell me so.
So what does the Dead Sea have to do with food, you ask? EVERYTHING! And here’s the point where i segue into the magic of brining.
I’m not going to give you a dissertation on brining, because I’m not all that technical (and frankly, i haven't had near enough coffee yet). Things like feta cheese and olives are jarred in brine because they keep longer. Way back when in the days before refrigeration, people would preserve meat by covering them in salt (or mustard). I’m not going to go to that extreme, and besides, we’ve got a fancy new fridge to preserve our food. Shirley Corriher talks about brining whole chicken in Cookwise , and how a roast chicken that has previously been brined far beats out other non-brined roast chicken in flavor. The only poultry we’ve brined has been the yearly Thanksgiving turkey and chicken destined to be fried (good ol’ Southern fried chicken, first brined, then soaked in buttermilk; there is nothing better). One day I will take Ms. Corriher’s advice and brine me up a whole chicken. But until then, we faithfully brine all our pork products.
Something to do with the alchemy of using gobs of Kosher salt in water and then soaking your meat product (heh) brings out more flavor, keeps the meat moist, and salts it ever so gently. It makes pork products not dry. Remember those super-dry-as-a-bone pork chops your mom used to make you when you were a kid? Start brining and you will never have a dry pork chop ever again. I guar-Ohn-TEE.
The brine I use is basically water, gobs of Kosher salt, a few peppercorns, some brown sugar. I suppose you could put other stuff in, but this is a good basis. To be honest, I don’t measure. What you need to do is to dissolve the sugar and salt first, so i’d start this on the stove. For a gallon of water, i’d do a half to two thirds a cup of Kosher salt, along with the same amount of sugar. Once this is dissolved, turn off the heat. You can’t put your product into this right now, because the water is hot and then you’d end up just boiling it and that wouldn’t be tasty now would it? it has to come back to room temperature. If you’re in a big fat hurry, you can mix this with cold ice water and then toss in your product. Put this in a good sealable Lock & Lock or tupperware and refrigerate for a while. For pork chops, i’ve normally done up to 3 hours, but even as little as 45 minutes or an hour makes a world of difference. Then (and this is crucial) remove the meat from the brine and rinse it off thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towels. Then cook, however you want to.
One way we’ve done it this past week is grilled pork tenderloin with an asiany sauce (1 part soy, 3 parts honey, ¼ part chili-garlic sauce or Sriracha), and pork chops with a cherry barbecue sauce..
I urge you to start brining. You will not be disappointed. I also urge you to use moisturizer, eye cream, body lotion, and to drink at least 2 liters of water a day.
Oh whatever. Don’t give me that look.
PS: i don't have the recipe for the cherry barbecue sauce with me; so if i remember to, i'll type it up later when i get home and post it right here on the good ol' innernets.
UPDATE: behold the power of the innernets. cherry barbecue sauce can be found here.