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Wet Brining Vs Dry Brining

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In this article we'll talk about wet brining vs dry brining and how that all works in a “sciency” sort of way without making it overly complicated.

Let's define the two types of brining:

Wet Brining – soaking meat, chicken, fish, etc. in a solution of salt and liquid and possibly other less-essential ingredients to add flavor and more moisture. This solution is made up of a ratio of 1 gallon of liquid (usually water) and 1 cup of kosher salt.
Dry Brining – Applying salt to the surface of meats to add flavor to the inside and to help lock in the moisture that is already present. Kosher salt is usually added at a rate of ½ to 3/4 teaspoon per pound of meat
It's easy to understand that adding salt to meat whether it's part of a solution or added directly to the meat will add flavor to that meat. Salt has been used in various forms for as long as the world has been around to flavor food and make meat, leaves, vegetables, roots, etc. taste better.

And, of course, salt has also been used as well for preservation of foods, especially before the advent of modern refrigeration, but that is fodder for a separate article.

In my experience, wet brining works best leaner and more delicate meat such as poultry, fish and seafood. Dry brining works best for fattier and more robust cuts such as beef, pork, and lamb. This would also include wild game such as deer, elk, etc.

Both types of brining are interchangeable though and can be used on any type of meat and only practice will tell you which you will prefer on various types of meat.

Let's talk about how brining works via denaturing..

Denaturing is what happens when salt comes into contact with meat. The salt causes the protein strands in the meat to unwind. When this happens, moisture gets caught between these strands. After a while the protein strands change their structure, tangle with one another and the moisture is trapped inside.
Why is this important? Because during the cooking process, moisture is forced out of the meat. With all of that extra moisture trapped inside the protein strands, the moisture is not forced out quite as easily.

In wet brining tests, pieces of meat such as chickens or turkeys will gain weight during the wet brining process. When cooked side by side with non-brined pieces that are of a similar size and weight, the brined test subjects will end up heavier than the non-brined subjects.

This extra weight is water that got trapped and the heat was not able to force it out of the meat during the cooking process. This means it's extra juicy when you cut into it.

We don't have to use science to know this. Brined turkeys, chickens, etc. are noticeably more juicy than ones that have not been brined. The science just proves what we already knew was happening.

While we are on the subject of wet brining, be sure to use glass, stainless steel or plastic to do your brining.. in essence, non-reactive containers. If you happen to use a zip top bag, do yourself a favor and just set it down in a large bowl or pot before placing it in the fridge in case of leakage.

To make a wet brine, add 1 gallon of liquid to a plastic, glass or stainless steel container. Add your salt and stir for a minute or two until the salt dissolves. If you're using water, it will return to clear letting you know that the salt is dissolved.

What about adding sugar and other ingredients to the brine?

Lots of folks add sugar to the brines and I've been known to do it myself from time to time. It doesn't really help the brine process in my opinion but it does add a little something to the flavor and can even help the browning on the outside of the meat. I prefer brown sugar but you can use white sugar, turbinado, or other sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, etc.

Other ingredients such as beer, herbs, spices, hot sauce, flavorings, etc. can be added at will. There is some science that says these things don't penetrate deep into the meat like the saltwater does but it does influence the flavor and I highly encourage experimentation in that regard.

Be sure to write down what you add then if it turns out amazing, you can repeat it. If it turns out not so good, you have a starting place for modifying the recipe to make it better next time.

If you want to see a few wet brine recipes that I use for poultry, check them out here. These also work for fish and seafood.

Types of Salt

You keep seeing the word Morton's coarse “kosher salt” in this article and in all of my brine recipes and if you're not familiar with that, it's just a coarse type of salt that I use for brining because it has large flakes and dissolves easily.

I also use it in most of my other cooking as well but for a different reason, because Morton's coarse kosher salt is flaked, it sticks to foods a lot better than other kosher salts which are more granular.

It is important that you use the correct ratio of salt to liquid so if you do decide to use a different type or brand of salt, make sure you measure by weight instead of volume. You are looking for 230 grams of salt.

This is not as important in small amounts but once you start using a cup at a time for brining, it's necessary because of the varying density between brands and types of salts.

For example: 1 cup of table salt weighs about 288 grams while 1 cup of Morton's coarse kosher salt weights 230 grams. Huge difference there and it just has to do with the size of the granules and how closely packed together they are.

Table salt has tiny granules and they pack together tightly. This is why you can fit so much more table salt in a given space than kosher salt which is made up of larger flakes that have a lot of space between each piece.

I have been using 1 gallon of liquid with 1 cup of Morton's coarse kosher salt in my brine recipes for decades and it just works perfectly every single time. If you're using a different type of salt, that's ok just make sure to measure it by weight instead of volume when making your brines.

For all brine recipe, I recommend using 1 gallon of water with 230 grams of salt (preferably Morton's coarse kosher salt) but other salts will work as long as the weight is correct.

Need to double the recipe? Still works the same, just double the liquid and double the weight of the salt.

Unlike wet brining poultry, the salt is added directly to the meat. We're not adding extra moisture to the steaks during the dry brining process but that doesn't mean it doesn't end up more juicy.

Salt is added to the top of steak, chops, etc. at a rate of ~½ teaspoon per pound of meat. I often go a little higher than this and use closer to ~¾ teaspoon per pound although I don't generally measure. Once you've been doing this for a long time you start to get a little intuition about how much salt to use.

Here' the coverage that I generally use using Morton's coarse kosher salt.

After just a few minutes, the salt begins to pull moisture to the surface of the meat.

That moisture dissolves the salt and becomes a salty solution (it makes its own brine in essence).

Here's that same steak after only 1 hour. Most of the salt is dissolved and the top of the steak has puddles of brine all over it.

Eventually that salty brine gets reabsorbed back into the meat. This entire process happens over the course of  a few hours.

The salt from that brine then causes this same denaturing process to happen in the steak and that reabsorbed moisture gets trapped between the protein strands.

During cooking, just like a chicken or turkey, a dry brined steak ends up with more retained moisture in the end than a non-dry brined steak due to the trapped water that cannot be forced out easily.

Pretty cool, eh?

You may have noticed that I placed the steaks on a rack inside of a pan. I do this to allow air to flow all the way around the steaks while they dry brine and often I will just cook them on that same setup to allow the smoke good access all the way around as well.

Seasoning the Steaks During Dry Brining

Want to season the steaks as well as dry brine? No problem as long as your rub or seasoning is very low on salt. I often use my original rub and Texas style rub during the dry brining process since they are very low on salt. Back in the day, I use to do this as two separate processes where I would dry brine first and then season right before the meat went on the smoker but nowadays, I do the dry brine and seasoning at around the same time and get equally great results.

The perfect scenario is to salt the meat and wait about 5-10 minutes for the juices to start coming to the surface. Now you can add your seasoning to the meat and it will stick to the surface with no need for a binder such as oil, mustard, etc.

One Side or Both Sides?

Often I will dry brine both sides of a thick steak (¾ inches thick or more) but it does require a little more hands-on time.

Dry brine the first side, place it in the fridge for 2-4 hours then remove and dry brine the 2nd side or another 2-4 hours or overnight. When you do this use a lighter coverage than you do when you're only doing one sided. This will ensure that both sides of the steaks or chops end up equally juicy and flavorful.

I have not done a side-by-side test on “one side” vs. “both sides” on thick steaks but it is something that seems to work well for me.

Have questions or comments? Post them below.

Smokeology,Beef,Featured Recipes,Poultry,Brining

By: Jeff Phillips
Title: Wet Brining Vs Dry Brining
Sourced From: www.smoking-meat.com/wet-brining-vs-dry-brining
Published Date: 04/24/21

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Nashville Hot Cauliflower

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Say wha?
 
Saw this idea a few weeks ago, don't remember where.  I started with a roasted cauliflower recipe I like to use; boil the whole head in heavily-salted water for no more than 5 minutes, drain for ten, coat surface with oil and black pepper, then roast at 450º for 25 minutes.  I didn't know if I should pre-coat with the oil, as I'd be dipping it after it was cooked, so I painted one-half of the head with oil and marked it with a toothpick.  After 15 minutes on the Egg I had this:
 

 
The left side does show a bit more darkening, but not really worth the trouble.
 
I had printed out a Nashville Hot Chicken recipe some months back, but haven't made it yet.  I looked it up, and the first two ingredients for the sauce were 1) half-lb of lard, and 2) two sticks of butter!    I thought that may be a bit overwhelming so I made something up:  melted 3 Tblspns of butter, added a clove of garlic, then whisked in a tsp of cayenne, 1/4 cup of Frank's Red-Hot, 2 tsp soy sauce, and 2 tsp of a cornstarch/water slurry.  Once thickened, I poured it in a bowl big enough for the cauliflower head.  
 
After 15 minutes on the Egg, I put the cauliflower in the bowl and rolled it around; was just the right amount to totally coat it.  Returned it to the Egg for ten more minutes to "set" the sauce:
 

 
Kinda purty, like a 7 pound meatball.  I sliced it into "steaks", not florets, and let the pieces fall where they may.  Served with Kimchee:
 

 
The kimchee added nothing as far as color contrast, and nothing to do with Tennessee barbeque, but Ron's recent thread had me hungry for kimchee so…  The meal could've used a big pile of white rice, however.
 
Thanks for looking.  

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By: Botch
Title: Nashville Hot Cauliflower
Sourced From: eggheadforum.com/discussion/1228032/nashville-hot-cauliflower
Published Date: 06/06/21

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Grilling Tips

A brief caveman pic tutorial

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For those on the reverse sear/caveman fence, this may or may not seal the deal; (all temps *F on the dome)
Low and Slow around 250*F to around 7-8 *F below your desired finish temp. (Expect this step to run around 45 minutes for 1 1/2" and reasonably up steaks-half inch excluded  )

Now time for the hot and fast:  Open the dome and shut the lower vent-let the fire produce a hot lava bed across the coals,

Time for some long tongs and nimble-flip at around 60-90 seconds and pull when your finish temp is there.

You will be justly rewarded.  Add to your arsenal.
Stay healthy and safe out there- (Same steak for the whole show!)

EggHead Forum

By: lousubcap
Title: A brief caveman pic tutorial
Sourced From: eggheadforum.com/discussion/1228033/a-brief-caveman-pic-tutorial
Published Date: 06/07/21

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Grilled Flatbread with Charred Shallots and Figs

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Figs are something I have let fall to the wayside in recent years. There was a time when I eagerly awaited the short windows of time when I was able to walk into my local grocery and purchase tender and sweet figs, and over the years they've worked their way into dishes on this site and off. The shift to almost entirely home cooking during the pandemic reminded me of the virtues of figs and the additional fodder they provide for recipes that offer something different from my usual rotation. So I picked up a package back in the fall and used some pantry staples to put together these grilled flatbreads with charred shallots and figs, then I wrote it up and scheduled the post for seven months from that date to remind to eat more figs when their first season hits in early summer.

This recipe was really born out of finding something new to do with figs that I purchased on a whim, and a pizza making session the day before I made these flatbreads left me with a desire to keep rolling with grilling dough. I have made many variations of flatbread dough throughout the years, but they were all doughs specialized for a specific cuisine, so I was looking for a more all-purpose recipe here and decided to try one out I saw on Food52. The hallmark of this high hydration dough is the large amount of extra-virgin olive oil in it, which I hoped would make this a flavorful bread without the long fermentation time I normally use to achieve that goal.

The first rise for the dough to double in volume took just under and hour, and during that downtime, I put together a balsamic glaze to use as a finishing drizzle on the flatbreads. I had a very small bottle of balsamic vinegar in the cupboard, so I poured the entire contents into a saucepan and added a little brown sugar to it. I then let the mixture simmer over medium-low heat until it reduced by half and had a spoon-coating thickness. When done, I removed from the heat and set aside.

Once the initial rise was finished, I transferred the dough to a well floured cutting board (it was a very sticky dough), divided it into four, and then formed each of those pieces into a ball. I set the portioned dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, covered with a damp cloth, and let it start the second rise, which took about 30 minutes.

During this time, I got everything else together needed for the final flatbreads so I could assemble them very quickly while the bread was still hot and at its very best. After lighting the fire, I cut up my figs into somewhat thin slices and also halved and peeled six small shallots.

The grill was ready to go after twenty minutes of ignition time, and I began by grilled the shallots, which I did over direct heat, placing them cut side down and just letting them cook until well charred. At this point they were somewhat tender, but not fully, so to finish them off, I flipped them over and grilled them until second side was also charred, which took less time than the first since they were already more than partially cooked. Once done, I transferred the shallots to a cutting board, removed the root ends that were holding them together on the grill, and then cut them into thin slices.

The shallots cooked pretty quickly, which was a good thing because the fire was still blazing hot to grill the bread, and a hot fire makes for the best flatbreads. I've rolled out other flatbreads I've made before, but this dough was so soft and stretchy, I went with freeform hand stretching this time. I did as best I could to get the bread even throughout, but, like with pizza dough, it was hard not to have a little extra heft around the edges with the center being thinner.

Happy enough with my globular oval shape, I carefully put the dough over the fire and let it cook until it began to brown a bit. I then flipped it over and browned on the second side and by then the bread was mostly cooked through, so I just kept flipping and moving it as needed to get it across the finish line and add a little extra color too.

As soon as the bread was off the grill, I brushed it with olive oil and assembled the final dish. I started with a layer of arugula, which I ended up going heavier on with subsequent flatbreads for an increased peppery character. Next went on the slices of figs and strips of shallots followed by dollops of a soft goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. After slicing it up, I dug in and ate it while still pretty hot.

My first taste was of the bread, which had a nice crunch and chew, although it was not as flavorful as dough I let ferment for many more hours at room temperature or days in the fridge. That lighter touch though meant the toppings were more prominent, and for me it was the sweet and fruity figs that served as the centerpiece. Although there wasn't one in every bite, their presence was lasting and was elevated by the tangy and sugary glaze and given savory contrasts by the cheese, arugula, and shallots. I consumed a couple slices of this first flatbread before moving on and cooking the rest—wanting each one to be as fresh as possible when served. All-in-all, this was a good reminder that I need to get figs back into the rotation more, and having written this post mainly as a nudge to myself, you may see at least one more recipe featuring this dual seasoned fruit on the site before the year is out.
Published on Thu Jun 3, 2021 by Joshua Bousel

Print Recipe

Yield 4 servings

Prep 15 Minutes
Inactive 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Cook 20 Minutes
Total 2 Hours 5 Minutes

Ingredients
For the Balsamic Glaze
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
 
For the Dough
3 cups bread flour (396 g)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (3.5 g)
1 teaspoon instant yeast (4 g)
1 1/4 cups warm water (292.5 g)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (43 g)
 
For the Flatbread
6 small shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8oz fresh figs, thinly sliced
2 handfuls arugula (about 2 oz)
5oz soft goat cheese
Procedure
To make the balsamic glaze: Whisk together vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer until reduced by half and thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make the dough: Whisk together flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add water and oil and knead with dough hook on low speed until dough comes together. Increase speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes. Remove bowl from mixer stand, cover with plastic wrap, and let dough rise at room temperature until roughly doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and cut into 4 even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes more.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals evenly across charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate. Place shallots on grill, cut side down, and cook until well charred, about 5 minutes. Flip shallots over and continue to cook until well charred on second side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer shallots to a cutting board, remove root end, and cut into thin strips.
On a floured surface, stretch one piece of dough out into an oval roughly 1/8″ thick. Place dough on hot side of grill and cook until browned and lightly charred in spots. Flip bread and continue to cook until second side is browned and lightly charred in spots. Transfer bread to a cutting board and brush with olive oil. Place 1/4 of the arugula on top followed by slices of figs and shallots. Spoon on dollops of goat cheese and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Cut into slices and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining dough and toppings.
Dough recipe from Food52.

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barbecue,bbq,grilling,foodblogs,foodblog,nyc,new york city,meatwave,Grilling,Bread,Vegetarian

By: meatmaster@meatwave.com (Joshua Bousel)
Title: Grilled Flatbread with Charred Shallots and Figs
Sourced From: meatwave.com/recipes/grilled-flatbread-with-charred-shallots-and-figs-recipe
Published Date: 06/03/21

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