Hey gang! I got an email from Ted in Menomonee Falls Wi. Ted was asking about brines and marinades. He wanted to know what was the difference between them and when to use each one.
To put it simply, a brine is water, salt and sugar and a marinade is an acid, oil and seasonings.
I'm no food scientist so I can't give you the scientific explanation as to why brining works. So I'll give you the Dude's version. Ready? Splish, splash your meats takin' a bath, all on a Saturday night. Rub a dub dub add you special rub and we'll be gourmet eatin' tonight.
Seriously, the salt, water and sugar combine and does something chemically to the meat. It makes the meat able to absorb and retain the solution. If you add different seasonings to the brine it will be carried into the meat adding extra flavor. The benefits of brining is that the meat will seem juicier and tender. You can slightly over cook brined meats without it drying out. Also, it seems like brined meat cooks a little faster.
When you go to the store, check out chicken. Look at the label. It may say 3% solution added or 10% solution by volume on the package or label. Look at some prepackaged ribs. It may say enhanced or something similar. The solution added to both is a brine with other seasonings.
What meat works best with brining? Usually lean meats. Turkey, chicken, pork (ribs, tenderloin, etc) or seafood work best.
Before I forget, if you brine, don't add any salt to your rub or seasonings after brining. Also, if you are on a reduced sodium diet I don't suggest you eat the brined food.
How about some...
Beer Brined Pork Chops
4 boneless pork chops about 1 ½ inches thick
1 ¾ cups water
1 ¾ cups dark beer
3 tablespoons Kosher or Sea salt
2 ½ tablespoons mild molasses
2 teaspoons black pepper
4 cloves garlic minced.
To make the brine put the water, beer salt and molasses in a large bowl and mix well. Make sure the salt and molasses are mixed into the liquid.
Trim pork chops of excess fat and place into large resealable plastic bag. Pour brine over the meat, seal the bag and mix the brine and meat around to make sure the meat is covered in the brine. Put the bag into the fridge and let the meat soak over night or 24 hours.
Prepare grill with medium hot coals spread around a drip pan in the center.
Drain chops and pat dry. Mix pepper and garlic together and rub into the chops.
Place chops on grill over drip pan, cover and cook 30 minutes, turning once about half way through. Cook until the internal temperature is 160 degrees or the juices run clear.
My take on marinades in a couple of days.