Happy New Year everyone!
I hope your resolutions are still holding strong. Personally, I’ve never been much of a resolution type of guy; I’ve always figured that if I want to change something about myself, I should have some kind of concrete motivation to give the whole thing purpose, and I find that the somewhat arbitrary date that is the beginning of the new year just doesn’t cut it for me. That said, I did make a new discovery over the holidays which I’ll be committed to from here on out: brining meat.
To be fair, my ‘discovery’ was really more so me going for dinner at a restaurant here in Lausanne and being informed that the reason my turkey breast was so juicy was the brine it had been sitting in. So, when it came time to roast our turkey for Christmas dinner, I immediately pulled out the biggest stock pot I had and started soaking the bird in my homemade savoury solution.
For those who don’t know, brine is a combination of water, salt, vinegar, and sometimes sugar, which is used to do all sorts of things – from making pickles to making sure your roasts come out flavourful and juicy to the core. The thought behind it is that the salt breaks down muscle proteins in the meat, rendering it more tender and leaving the salt, sugar, vinegar, and whatever other seasonings you may add as a flavourful meaty bonus. Although it takes a bit more time, it really does make all the difference – and it’s easy as pie! Now if you’re the type of person who needs a recipe for everything (like me), I’ve included one below.
Meat & Poultry Brine
Yield: brine for 1 large roast
1 cup kosher salt (Note: It’s crucial to use kosher salt here, table salt won’t have the same effect)
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup apple cider vinegar (Optional – if you’re brining for longer than 5 hours skip this, it’ll make the meat “cook” without heat – a process called denaturation – which will make it taste... off)
8-10 cups cold water
1. In a large stock pot, combine all ingredients. Stir until dissolved.
2. Add meat/poultry to brine and ensure that the entirety of it is covered in brine. If brining poultry, be sure to insert the bird with its legs pointing up so as to fill the cavity with brine. Add more water if needed.
3. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours (preferably overnight).
4. Remove the roast from the brine and pour out any remaining juices from the crevices. Don’t be alarmed if there is an odd smell, this will cook off.
5. Season and roast the meat/poultry as you usually would.
Pro Tip: For all of John’s previous recipes, find him on Facebook under ‘John Kemp’s Kitchen’ or on Instagram @johnkempskitchen!