Hello this Audax from Audax Artifex and I’m honoured to be your host this month. I have decided to concentrate on a couple of important cooking techniques that every good cook should have up his or her sleeve. The first technique is brining – which uses a brine (at its simplest, a combination of salt and water usually with some sugar) to infuse flavor and moisture into poultry, red- & white-meat, fish, seafood and most types of nuts and seeds. Brining guarantees moist succulent roast chickens and turkeys, fried steaks, steamed trout, BBQed prawns (shrimps), grilled seafood and toasted nuts and seeds.
Brining is simple and only needs a few simple ingredients and really adds an extra dimension to your cooking. I will be providing a couple of different recipes and guidelines on how to brine which can be used with a whole array of meats, poultry, seafood, nuts and seeds.
Then for the second technique (once you have brined your chosen cut of meat) I want you to roast (or BBQ) it. Again I will be giving you guidelines and rules on how to roast your cut of meat. The roasting guidelines can be used for meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds. For our non-meat eating cooks I want you to use the roasting guidelines to roast a selection of vegetables and/or nuts or seeds to perfection.
Soaking in brine improves the taste and the moistness of all fowl (chicken, turkey, goose, duck and guinea fowl), also it works on lean red- and lean white-meats, fish, most seafood and most nuts and seeds. It is simple, cheap and effective and will ensure that your Christmas roast will be the tastiest you have ever made. All you do is brine your cut of meat and then proceed as normal, you will find that the roast is juicy and the skin has a lovely color. The recipe for all-purpose brine is simple – for each cup (240 ml) of water use 1 tablespoon (18 gm) of table salt this makes a 8% brine solution which can be used for most foods. (This is equivalent to 1 cup of table salt for each gallon (4 liters) of water.)
Brining works in accordance with two principles, called diffusion and osmosis, these two principles like to keep things in equilibrium (or in stable balance). When brining a fowl for example, there is a greater concentration of salt and sugar outside of the fowl (in the brine) than inside the fowl (in the cells that make up its flesh). The law of diffusion states that the salt and sugar will naturally flow from the area of greater concentration (the brine) to lesser concentration (the cells). There is also a greater concentration of water, so to speak, outside of the fowl than inside. Here, too, the water will naturally flow from the area of greater concentration (the brine) to lesser concentration (the cells). When water moves in this fashion, the process is called osmosis. Once inside the cells, the salt and, to a lesser extent, the sugar causes the cell proteins to unravel, or denature. As the individual proteins unravel, they become more likely to interact with one another. This interaction results in the formation of a sticky matrix that captures and holds moisture. Once exposed to heat, the matrix gels and forms a barrier that keeps much of the water from leaking out as the meat cooks. Thus you have a roast that is both better seasoned and much more moist than when you started.
HANGING IT OUT TO DRY
Brining does have one negative effect on poultry: Adding moisture to the skin as well as the flesh which can prevent the skin from crisping when cooked. This can be overcome by air-drying, a technique used in many Chinese recipes for roast duck and chicken. Letting brined chicken and turkey dry uncovered in the refrigerator allows surface moisture to evaporate, making the skin visibly more dry and taut and therefore promoting crispness when cooked. Although this step is optional, if crisp skin is a goal, it’s worth the extra time. For best results, air-dry whole brined birds overnight. Brined chicken parts can be air-dried for several hours. Transfer the brined bird to a heavy-duty cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet, pat the bird dry with paper towels, and refrigerate. The rack lifts the bird off the baking sheet, allowing air to circulate freely under the bird. If you are not air-drying your fowl it is best to pat dry the skin with paper towels before roasting in a hot oven.
Surprisingly, brining has one large positive effect on fish fillets, a quick brine (only 10 mins) greatly improves the appearance of cooked fillets, because the brine reduces the unsightly white layer of albumin that coagulates on the surface during cooking, I highly recommend brining fish fillets when presentation is paramount.
ITEMS THAT BENEFIT FROM BRINING
Lean cuts of meat with mild flavor tend to benefit most from flavor brining also most nuts and seeds can be brined with good affect. These include:
Chicken: whole, butterflied, or pieces
Cornish Hens: whole or butterflied
Turkey: whole, butterflied, or pieces
Pork: chops, loin, tenderloin, fresh ham
Seafood: salmon, trout, shrimp
Beef: use lean pieces of beef
Nuts and Seeds: Most nuts and seeds are suitable i.e. pumpkin, peanuts, sesame, almonds etc.
Fatty meats such as duck, beef, and lamb do not benefit as much from brining (but still can be brined)—they’re naturally moist and flavorful. They also tend to be cooked to lower internal temperatures and thus don’t lose as much of their natural moisture.
WHICH SALT TO USE
Kosher salt (called rock salt outside North America) and table salt are the most common salts used in brining.
Sea salt can be used for flavor brining, but it tends to be quite expensive. If you have a cheap supply available, go for it; otherwise, stick to kosher salt or table salt.
Some people say that kosher salt tastes “cleaner” than table salt because it does not contain the anti-caking agents added to table salt. Some people prefer non-iodized table salt over iodized table salt, believing that potassium iodide creates an off-taste. However, these flavor differences melt away when salt is diluted in large quantities of water in a brine. In an article about salt in the September/October 2002 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, taste testers felt that “all nine salts tasted pretty much the same” when dissolved in spring water and chicken stock, whether it was 36¢/pound iodized table salt, 66¢/pound kosher salt, or $36/pound Fleur de Sel de Camargue sea salt from France.
SALT EQUIVALENT MEASURES
Table salt and kosher salt do not have the same saltiness in a flavor brine when measured by volume—but they do when measured by weight.
Table salt weighs about 10 ounces (285 grams) per cup, while kosher salt weighs 5-8 ounces (140-225 grams) per cup, depending on the brand. If using kosher salt in a brine, you must use more than a cup to achieve the same salt flavor you would get from a cup of table salt.
The chart below shows equivalent amounts of table salt and the two most popular brands of kosher salt.
Morton Kosher Salt weighs about 7.7 ounces (220 grams) per cup, making it three-fourths as strong as table salt. Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt weighs about 5 ounces (140 grams) per cup, making it half as strong as table salt.
What if you’re using something other than Morton Kosher or Diamond Crystal Kosher salt? Regardless of the type of salt—sea salt, pickling salt, and any other brand of kosher salt—just measure 10 ounces (285 grams) of it on a kitchen scale and you will have the equivalent of 1 cup of table salt.
HOW LONG TO BRINE
The length of time meat soaks in a flavor brine depends on the type of meat and its size, as well as the amount of salt used in the brine—the saltier the brine mixture, the shorter the soaking time. Here are common brining times found in recipes:
It is possible to end up with meat that’s too salty for your taste, so you may want to brine on the low end of the time range to see how it turns out. You can always brine longer next time, but there’s no way to salvage a piece of meat that’s been brined too long.
ROASTING TIMES AND TEMPERATURES FOR POULTRY
When we roast brined cuts of meat (or whole birds) the procedure firstly is to brown the skin in a hot oven then to lower the temperature so we reduce the moisture loss in the roasted food. It is important to rest (loosely covered in foil) your roast so that the moisture can redistribute itself in the meat, it greatly adds to the final tenderness of the cooked product.
For other roasting times for red meat, fish, seafood, nuts and seeds see the additional information at the end of the challenge write-up.
Recipe Source: The brine and roast chicken used are traditional recipes used in my family for many generations. The roast vegetable recipe is from my own family cookbook.
Blog-checking lines: Audax of Audax Artifax was our November 2012 Daring Cooks’ host. Audax has brought us into the world of brining and roasting, where we brined meat and vegetables and roasted them afterwards for a delicious meal!
Posting Date: November 14th, 2012
Note: Important Information – brining must be done in the refrigerator the salt water will not stop the growth of germs and bacteria. Also brine cannot be reused always discard it after first use. Make sure that the brine goes into the cavity of large chickens and turkeys when brining.
Mandatory Items: If you eat meat you must brine a meat (or seafood) cut and then roast (or BBQ) it. For non-meat eaters please brine some nuts or seeds then roast them or just roast a load of vegetables. I have included an extensive listing of poultry, seafood, nut etc. recipes in the additional information section at the end of the challenge feel free to use any of these recipes. Of course you can use your own favourite recipe if you wish.
Variations allowed: Any meat/seafood (or nuts/seeds) can be used for brining. And any vegetable can be used by non-meat eaters.
Preparation time: Generally brining takes from ½ hour to 2 days. Roasting can take up to 2 hours for most pieces of meat, for large poultry 6-7 hours.
non-reactive container for the brine
roasting pans or trays
I have included one all-purpose brine recipe, a roast chicken recipe and a roast vegetable recipe.
Recipe One – All-Purpose Brine:
Makes 4 cups of brine enough for about one pound (½ kg) of meat
This is the brine to use for most cuts of meat and poultry that will be roasted.
4 cups (1 litre) of cold water (see note 1)
¼ cup (70 gm) table salt or ½ cup (70 gm) Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
optional 2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) sugar (see note 2)
optional 3-4 peppercorns, a few springs of herbs, a garlic clove or two, a knob of ginger etc. (see note 3)
1. Heat 1 cup of water to boiling point add the salt and stir until all the salt has totally dissolved.
2. Place in a non-reactive container (glass, plastic, stainless steel, zip-lock bags etc). Add the remaining water and stir. Make sure that all the salt has dissolved. Wait until the brine has reached room temperature.
3. Add your cut of meat make sure that the meat is completely submerged (that is totally covered in the salty water) if need be you can weigh down the cut of meat with a clean plate (etc). If using plastic bags make sure that the meat is totally covered in brine and make sure that is bag is locked securely.
4. Cover the container with plastic wrap to prevent odours contaminating the flavor brine or the brine leaking.
5. Place the container into the refrigerator for the soaking time suggested by the guidelines above.
6. If desired you can air-dry your poultry (usually over night) in the refrigerator if you wish to have crispy skin on your bird. It is best to pat dry your brined item (inside and out) with paper towels before cooking.
7. Cook the brined item as directed by the roasting guidelines above.
1. You can replace all or some of the water with a combination of wine, cider, beer, tea, coffee, fruit juice, most sauces (tomato, soya, BBQ, chilli etc), chicken stock, beef stock or fish stock. Be careful with acidic liquids like wine, cider, fruit juices which can turn your meat to mush if brined too long.
2. A little sugar can help overcome the saltiness of the brine and helps to give a nice sheen to your piece of meat when roasted. You can use up to ¼ cup of sugar (use the lesser amount (2 tablespoons) for high temperature roasting since the brine can burn at high heats if you use too much sugar). You can use brown sugar or honey or other sweeteners if you wish.
3. Any combination of spices and herbs can be used to flavor the brine. Garlic powder, onion powder and ginger powder are excellent to use for brining.
Recipe Two – Roast Brined Chicken
Serves four to six people
1 whole chicken (organic is best) about 2 kg (4 ½ pounds)
Enough brine (see recipe above) to cover the chicken in a large non-reactive container
1. Brine the whole chicken in the flavored brine in the refrigerator overnight about 6 hours can be overnight. (Make sure that every part of the chicken is covered in the brine you can weigh the bird down with a clean plate so it is completely submerged.
2. Discard the brine and dry the skin and inside of the bird with paper towels.
3. If you desire crispy skin then leave the bird on a rack for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator so the skin can dry.
4. Preheat oven to moderately hot 220°C/425°F/gas 7.
5. Roast for 15 minutes.
6. Reduce oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and roast for a further 12-15 minutes per 450 grams/pound, You can check for done-ness the internal temperature should be 165°F/84°C, or the juices should run clear when you pierce the bird between the leg and thigh.
7. Rest for approximately 30 minutes covered loosely in foil.
Recipe Three – Roast Vegetables
Serves six people
For best results use the largest shallow heavy-weight roasting pan you have and make sure that the vegetable are well spaced out in the pan and only form one layer, use two trays if necessary. A very hot oven 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9 is the key to roasting vegetables. Only toss the vegetables once or twice during cooking. For lighter-weight vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli or cut corn add it to the pan 15 minutes later, so it doesn’t get too brown. Greens like kale and mustard greens are done in only 15 minutes. Root vegetables should be cut into cubes of about one-inch (2½ cm). You can add a small amount of apricot fruit spread or honey in the last 10 minutes to enhance the caramelising process. Fresh basil, rosemary and thyme are best when used fresh. Curry, paprika and turmeric are also great. Grated ginger or crushed garlic can also be added.
1 small butternut squash (pumpkin), cubed
2 red bell peppers (capsicums), seeded and sliced
1 orange sweet potato, peeled and cubed OR 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced lengthways
3 Yukon Gold (or any baking) potatoes, cubed
1 red onion, quartered
optional 1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
2. In a large bowl, combine the squash, red bell peppers, sweet potato, red onion and Yukon Gold potatoes and the optional garlic if using.
3. In a small bowl, stir together thyme, rosemary, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss with vegetables until they are coated. Spread evenly on a large roasting pan.
4. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring one or twice, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned. If using a smaller tray the vegetables will take about 50-60 minutes.
Brined and BBQed “seven-bone” steak (notice the shape of the bone in the steak)
Brined and BBQed “wagyu” steak
Brined and Roasted Peppered Ribeye Roast
Additional Information: Include links to videos or information that can be of assistance to members.
Kosher salt versus table salt http://bbq.about.com/od/spicesseasonings/a/aa102007a.htm
Everything you wanted to know about brining http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/rubs_pastes_marinades_and_brines/zen_…
Brining Nuts and Seeds http://www.jwright44.com/recipes/BrinedNuts.htm
How to brine pumpkin seeds http://www.ehow.com/how_8144233_brine-pumpkin-seeds.html
How a quick brine improves the appearance of fish fillets http://www.cooksillustrated.com/howto/detail.asp?docid=36992
Dry brining thick steaks (a great article) http://steamykitchen.com/163-how-to-turn-cheap-choice-steaks-into-gucci-…
Brining turkey a primer http://bbq.about.com/od/turkey/ss/aa110808a.htm
Roast chicken ten ways http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/chickenturkeymore/tp/roastchixtenways.h…
Cooking a turkey (many articles) http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/chickenturkeymore/tp/Cooking-A-Turkey.h…
To roast a turkey http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/chickenturkeymore/r/Roast-Turkey-Recipe…
Roasting guidelines for red meat roasts http://www.donaldrussell.com/game-technique?ms=tab5 Jamie Oliver’s Roast Potato, parsnips and carrot recipe http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetarian-recipes/roast-potatoes-par…
Jamie Oliver’s Perfect Roast Potato recipe http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetarian-recipes/perfect-roast-pota…
Delia Smith’s Roast Potato recipe http://www.deliaonline.com/how-to-cook/fruit-and-vegetables/how-to-roast…
How to brine fish http://www.ehow.com/how_5963061_brine-fish-before-cooking.html
Vegetable Roasting Guide http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101/shopping_c…
How to cook a steak to perfection http://howto.yellow.co.nz/food-drink/cooking-and-baking/how-to-cook-stea…
How to cook a steak (using American cuts of meat) http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-cook-the-perfect-steak/