Sunday, July 6, 2008

Brine

I haven't been making a whole lot of dinners in the past month or more, so I decided it was time to tackle another, in Keller's words, plat de resistance. My choice was roast rack of pork for a few reasons, which I'll let you in on when I actually write about that. For now you get a quick brining write up...

The very first step in making the pork is to brine it for 24 hours. Everyone raves about the effects of brining your meat, but I had never done it before. A learning opportunity was imminent, albeit quite a simple one. There is one recipe in the book for brining both the pork and a chicken recipe, the only difference being the addition of some lemon to the chicken brine.

The ingredients for the brine are honey, salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, rosemary, and garlic. I didn't have any rosemary, so that got left out. It seems like a lot of all of the ingredients, but since brining is essentially the magical infusion of solids into a piece of meat (also a solid last I checked), you need a lot.

I heated the brine, which now included a gallon of water, until it boiled and kept it there for just a minute. I removed it from the heat and let it sit for a long, long, time. You can only use the brine when it's around room temperature or you'll end up with some prematurely cooked meat, and that's never a good thing. For the record, a gallon of boiling water in a cast iron pan takes about three hours to cool to room temperature. Save yourself some time if you plan on using the brine the same night you make it.


After the brine was sufficiently cool, I just submerged the pork, and into the fridge it went for 24 hours. When I was ready to cook the pork I took it out of the brine, rinsed it off, and patted it dry. Ta da, all done.

Let me tell you, brining makes a huge difference. Not to let the cat out of the roast rack of pork bag, but this was easily the juiciest pork I've ever had. Ever reheat a leftover pork chop in the microwave as a quick lunch at work? They suck, right? Not anymore, not if you brine it ahead of time. Seriously, for anything like that I ever make again, brining will take place. This is probably the single biggest technique I've picked up so far.

5 comments:

James said...

I guess we're brining the giant pig...

mike said...

Ha, I was thinking about that as I made this. This took a gallon of water for a 4lb roast. I think that means we would need at least 40 gallons of brine for a whole pig.

If only I knew somebody that was good at math to help me with that...

James said...

are we getting a 160 pound pig? take that for some math!

matt wright said...

awesome stuff.. I am really happy to find your blog. Bouchon is one of my favorite cookbooks - it is great to see someone working through it.

mike said...

Thanks for checking it out. Hopefully you continue to like what you see.