A few years back brining was all over the place. Everywhere you’d look someone was raving about the virtues of brining, and we climbed right on the brining bandwagon. We brined and we brined, and by the time it was finally out of my system, I had come to the conclusion that it wasn’t for me because is seemed to me that it kind of left everything kind of the same. As lovely as it is to have evenly moist and seasoned meat, that is just what it is: even, and that evenness sacrifices variation. I enjoy having each bite of my meat a little different from the last: one bite may be seasoned more strongly than another, one might be a little more dry than another, one might have a texture that is a little different, and for me the experience will be more interesting and more gratifying.
I wasn’t too excited about this Charcutepalooza challenge, but I’d never corned my own beef, and enough time had passed that I was up to revisiting brining. One thing that had bothered me about brining was the dominance of the salt, how it permeated every bite. I also didn’t like the softened texture. That’s why I don’t buy meat that has been injected with anything. I hoped to be able to adjust the technique or recipe so that the meat was improved by the brine, but not taken over by it.
So how to add some flavor and moisture without letting it take over? How about less salt, more herbs/spices, less brining time and more resting time? For each meat, except the corned beef, I cut the salt and brining time by about half, and doubled the herbs/spices and resting time, to see if I could come up with a milder and more flavorful treatment that added something but didn’t take away from the character of the meat. It worked!
Here’s what we did. Recipes to follow:
We made an out of this world corned beef, for corned beef and cabbage, with leftovers for hash, sandwiches and colcannan.
Ham steak from our Amish farmer is not cured, so brining in basic brine with lots of mustard and sage added nice flavor.
We brined and cooked a chicken on the rotisserie. My sister Mary over for dinner that night, and she pointed out that in
they frequently brine game, which is leaner and often tougher, to tenderize it. Free range animals are similar to wild animals in this respect, and also respond well to a light brine. Italy
We figured out how to deal with latter day lean pork tenderloin.
And we got a batch of sauerkraut going for good measure, though we didn’t float it in brine, but just kneaded salt into it as we usually do.