Most folks think that if you throw a hunk of meat onto the grill, it’s going to be good. Not really.
It’s good because you prepare the meat in some way – you give it a flavor rub or you age it or you brine it (my personal favorite).
Brining isn’t just for turkeys, although it’s the best thing that happened to Tom Turkey since dressing and gravy.
So, take a little time this summer for your pork, fish, steaks or chicken. You’ll thank me, really.
EQUIPMENT – Medium sauce pan with lid, chopping board, chef’s knife, gallon-size zip-lock plastic bags, large mixing bowl, baking sheet, measuring equipment, wooden spoon. Grill and meat thermometer.
(I you don’t have all the exotics, don’t worry – the salt and normal spices will work. I just like the flavor layers you get from the weird stuff.) To be used for 1-2 pork tenderloins. If you get a really thick one, cut it in half. It will brine better.
½ cup kosher salt
7 cups of water
½ apple, quartered
2 bay leaves
2 Tablespoons minced or 2 cloves whole garlic
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
1 medium onion, quartered
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 Tablespoon (each) cinnamon, cocoa powder
1 teaspoon (each) ground cumin, chili powder
1 cup strongly brewed coffee
(Optional) 1 Tablespoon coffee beans
Let’s get started
In the saucepan, add water and everything else. Stir. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, rinse meat, pat dry and place in zip-lock bag(s).
When brine is ready, place uncovered pot in sink. Cover drain and add cold water half-way up the side of your pot to start cooling the brining liquid. Add ice in sink water, if you have it. (You may need to repeat this phase.)
When liquid is cool, pour it into your bagged meat. Seal tightly, forcing out as much air as you can. Place full brining bags into mixing bowl and refrigerate at least 6 hours. Overnight is even better. Shake the bag(s) occasionally to ensure brine comes in contact with all sides of your meat.
Two hours before cooking (unless it’s chicken or fish), remove meat from fridge, remove it from bag, rinse under cold water. Place on a baking sheet and pat dry. (Dry meat crusts better.)
Before grilling everything but fish, consult the Internet or meat thermometer instructions about the best internal temperature for how you like it cooked. Insert thermometer into the meat center, then grill.
NOTE: You also can do this in your oven, if you don’t have a grill. Just consult Internet cooking sites for best oven roasting temperatures. The internal meat temperature doesn’t change with your cooking platform.
All photos provided by Patsy Brumfield