To Brine Or Marinate, That is the Question
Chefs tend to brine and marinate meat to make the end result more tender, moist, and flavorful. I have to admit that I tend to marinate a lot more than brine, but both are very useful in tenderizing and flavoring your meat before you cook it. And let me tell you bitch, these techniques work. They work wonders!
First, let’s give you a few mechanics so your small minds understand exactly what is happening when you brine and marinate. When you brine, you are adding flavor and moistness through osmosis. Basically, the salt mixture is mixing with the meat to break down the fibers and help retain moisture. When you marinate, you are using acid to tenderize the meat. That is the basic difference. That’s all the science I think you can handle, so we will leave it at that.
Brining is very simple. All you have to do is make a salt water solution and soak the meat. Marinating is slightly more complicated in the fact that you have to prepare a great flavored acidic-based sauce first, so it takes slightly more brain cells. If you don’t think you can handle following a marinade recipe, then brine it, bitch!
I find that marinating overnight works best, but if you don’t have that much time, 2-4 hours can work as well. If you are brining though, you should take notice of the times. A simple rule of thumb that I find works best is to brine the meat for one to two hours per pound. However, in the case of whole birds like turkeys and chicken, overnight is optimal.
HOW TO BRINE A [email protected]
When brining, you are making a simple salt water solution. Although, I find that adding some brown or white sugar to the mix helps to temper the salt. I have even used some honey or maple syrup and they really help to soften up the brine as well. To make a brine, simply bring water to a boil and add salt and sugar. Then, when the salt and sugar has dissolved, let it cool. If you don’t let it cool before you immerse your sweaty meat into it, you will begin the cooking process and your dish will turn out salty. The brine and the meat should be at the same temperature when you submerge it.
BRINE IT [email protected]!
- Cool the brine! It should be at the same temperature as the meat.
- Fully submerge the meat.
- Brine it for a good amount of time or its f%@king useless.
- Finally. Know your salt! Salts are not created equal damn it! A cup of Kosher Salt has less sodium than table salt. This is because there are a lot more granules in table salt as it is not “clumped” together. I find that Kosher salt works best in brines. If you use table salt, lower the amount you use.
SO, HOW MUCH DAMN SALT SHOULD I Use?
Well, bitch. So glad you asked, because I love giving these types of answers to a sub-par human just to see them get confused. The answer is: It depends! Ha! A basic rule I follow is to use between ½ and ¾ of a cup of kosher salt for every gallon of water. This will depend if you add any other herbs and spices, but that ratio should always work well. If you use table salt, I would use about 1/3 to ½ a cup.
HOW TO MARINATE YOUR SWEATY MEAT
OK, on to marinating. In case your insufficient mind didn’t retain the information above, marinating uses some sort of acidic solution to tenderize and flavor the meat. So in this case, you are looking to create a sauce that adds flavor and breaks down the fibers using wine, vinegar, citrus juice, or some other form of flavorful acid. Then, I like to submerge the meat into the marinade for anywhere between 5 and 24 hours. I find the longer the meat is submerged, the better.
If you ever just need a simple marinade, I find a combination of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, some spices, and a little hot sauce work well with all meats.
So that is all I can say about brining and marinades. Good luck with that.