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.
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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[FTC Standard Disclosure] We received no compensation for this post. After being big fans of Thermoworks products since 2010, I have recently enrolled as a Thermoworks affiliate.
We don't do a lot of sauces for steak. Dragging fresh slices of steak through the juices, seasonings, and melted butter on the cutting board is my standard MO. But every now and then, I like to shake things up and get a little saucy like I did with this Portobello Marsala Strip Steak.
The salty sweet flavor of the sauce and mushrooms pairs excellently with the steak.
Slight confession, we typically split a steak between the two of us for dinner because our appetites have slowed down as we have gotten older. The good news is that means we get to have steaks for dinner two nights in a row.
The full recipe is at the bottom of the post. Here are a few pictures and tips from the cooks.
USDA Prime is the grade, Certified Angus Beef® is the brand. How is the brand more selective? For one, USDA allows for the steer to be A or B maturity for prime beef. However, Certified Angus Beef's 10 science-based standards allow only for A maturity.
In addition to the USDA grade and brand name, I also consider the color and marbling. I look for a steak that is deep red like this and has lots of white flecks (smaller the better) evenly distributed across the steak.
As I mentioned, often have this two nights in a row. In this mise en place, you can see we used black pepper and garlic salt for the seasoning.
In this mise en place, I used my NMT Umami Steak Seasoning which harnesses the natural flavor enhancers found in mushrooms. Of course, in both set ups, you see my trusty Thermapen instant read thermometer, the gold standard for food thermometers. Thermoworks is closing out the Thermapen Mk4's for just $69 right now (usually they are $90).
It was a sunny, mild day so I rolled my Challenger Designs Torch cart out from under the gazebo.
Make sure to give your cast iron skillet adequate time to preheat, about 5 minutes should get it to 500°f. If the steak doesn't sizzle and smoke when you put it on, the skillet isn't hot enough.
The advantage to a skillet over grill grates is that you get an even, flavorful crust like this from a skillet. Grill marks look nice too and I still grill steaks, but I probably use a skillet 7 out of 10 times.
Cook times on a skillet are often shorter, especially with thinner steaks like these strips, so keep your eye on your steaks and have a fast reading thermometer.
Portobello and cremini mushrooms are the same mushroom at different maturities, so you may find these labeled as Portobello, cremini, or even "baby bellas". It doesn't matter, just make sure to slice them thinly for quick cooking and you'll want about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of them after slicing.
At these temps, the mushrooms will cook quickly like they do in stir fry.
Marsala has a low amount of alcohol so you don't need to worry about possible eruptions of flame like can happen with bourbon or tequila. But as with adding any liquid to a hot skillet, still be careful to avoid steam burns.
When the marsala is almost dry like this, it is time to add the beef stock. This skillet is the 1930's era Griswold that I restored last year.
This is after adding the stock, seasoning, and slurry. Tip: I don't use the full cup of stock at first. I use about 2/3 to 3/4ths of the reduced stock. If the sauce gets too thick, then I whisk in some more stock to get the consistency that I like.
This picture is terrible but I want to point out something about fortifying the sauce with butter. First, be sure to use cold butter for the final step. Secondly, keep the butter moving around the skillet until it has melted and combined with the sauce, so it emulsifies. This will keep your sauce from splitting.
The sweet and salty sauce enhances the flavor of the steak without covering it up.
When it comes to sauced steaks, this Portobello Marsala sauce and our gorgonzola sauce are two of my favorites.
Portobello Marsala Strip SteaksBy www.nibblemethis.com
Pan seared NY Strip Steaks with sliced Portobello mushrooms in a marsala sauce served over noodles.
Ingredients2 10-ounce Certified Angus Beef® Brand NY Strip Steakshigh temperature cooking oil such as canola, peanut, etc2 1/2 teaspoons steak seasoning (see notes)2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided6 medium-sized portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced1 tablespoon finely diced shallot1/2 cup marsala wine1 cup reduced beef stock (see notes)4 ounces dry Angel Hair pasta, cooked according to directionsSlurry made by whisking 1 tablespoon corn starch with 1 tablespoon of cold water together1 green onion, slicedInstructionsPreheat the grill to 500°f. Set up the grill for direct heat (cooking directly above the heat) and light the grill. Five minutes before cooking , add a cast-iron skillet or other grill-safe skillet to the grill and allow it to preheat.Sear the steaks. Lightly coat the steaks with about 1 teaspoon each of the cooking oil. Season each steak with about 1 teaspoon of the steak seasoning. Place the steaks in the skillet and cook 2-3 minutes on each side, until the internal temperature reaches 125°f for medium-rare. Remove to a resting rack and keep warm.Make the sauceSaute the mushrooms. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet and stir in the mushrooms to coat them. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are wilting and giving off their moisture, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the shallot and cook until the shallot is tender and transluscent, another 1-2 minutes.Stir in the marsala wine and leave the grill open so the wine will evaporate down to just a tablespoon or so, about 2 minutes.Stir in the stock and the final 1/2 teaspoon of the steak seasoning. Allow to come to a simmer.Whisk in the slurry and cook until the sauce thickens, about 30-60 seconds.Remove from heat and slowly stir the cold butter until it is dissolved. Serve. Divide the pasta between two plates and top with the sauce. Slice the steak and place on the pasta. Garnish with green onions.Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins. Cook time: 00 hrs. 15 mins.
Total time: 25 mins.
Tags: steak, skillet, mushroomsNotes
Steak seasoning – I have used this same recipe using several steak seasonings so use your favorite. I often use my NMT Umami Steak Seasoning recipe. I also enjoy using using a 1:1 mix of dustless coarse black pepper and garlic salt.Reduced beef stock – Reducing the beef stock will concentrate the flavor and add body to the final sauce. Place 2 cups of beef stock in a pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to maintain a steady simmer until the stock has reduced in volume by half to one cup, which should take about 20 minutes.
Title: Portobello Marsala Strip Steaks
Sourced From: www.nibblemethis.com/2021/07/portobello-marsala-strip-steaks.html
Published Date: 07/26/21
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If you’ve visited the Pacific Northwest, chances are you’ve enjoyed one of the most distinctive American ways to grill fish: on a cedar or alder plank. The process satisfies and gratifies on quite a few levels.
First, the wood imparts a unique flavor all its own—a spicy, wine-like flavor in the case of cedar; a woodier, smokier flavor in the case of alder. It also tends to absorb any strong fishy flavors, a plus when serving stronger-flavored fish like salmon or bluefish, to people who are iffy about seafood. The plank keeps the fish from drying out and from sticking to the grill grate (a perennial problem). Last, it also eliminates the need to turn the fish over (a task which bedevils even experienced pit masters).
The technique originated, it appears, with the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest who roasted local salmon in special cedar holders over blazing embers.
But there’s evidence that planking was also practiced in colonial times: George Washington hosted shad cook-outs at Mount Vernon, and an annual Shad Planking festival is still held each April in Sussex County. And 18th cookbooks describe cooking fish on planks in the oven. (Some food historians claim cooking food on hardwoods originated in Scandinavia.)
Inspired, chefs adopted the method, but didn’t limit the planked food to fish. In fact, any food that can be cooked low and slow and that doesn’t depend on searing can be cooked on planks. I have been experimenting with this technique for decades, and have published many recipes featuring not only fin fish like salmon and trout, but shellfish, meats like chicken and pork, as well as vegetables, tofu, fruit, and more. (See below.)
In fact, I recently introduced cedar grilling planks to my line of barbecue products. These planks—each package contains two 5.5- by 11.5-inch boards—will be your ticket to infusing your grilled food with flavorful wood smoke. They can be used with charcoal, gas, or pellet grills.
Personally, I like to singe the plank over the flames before arranging the food on it. But if you’re interested in reusing the plank, soak it in water (salted, if desired) or a flavorful liquid, like beer, wine, or fruit juice for an hour before grilling to discourage scorching. (A bag of ice or a heavy ceramic dish will keep the plank submerged. Do not use canned goods as the bottoms can leave black marks on the plank.)
- Keep a spray bottle of water near the grill to extinguish any unexpected flare-ups on the plank as your food cooks.
- Wood conducts heat more slowly than metal grill grates, so planked foods may take longer to cook.
- Have a heat-proof surface at the ready—a place where you can set your planked food after removing it from the grill. An overturned rimmed sheet pan is one option. The planks might harbor glowing embers when removed from the grill.
- To discourage sticking, brush the plank with vegetable oil before arranging food on it.
- If you intend to reuse a plank—depending on how it’s been treated, planks can be reused one to two times—scrub it with plain water. Do not use soap.
- For the most dramatic presentation, serve food directly on the plank.
Recipes for Planking
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Smoked Planked Trout with Caper Dill Sauce
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Scotch Whisky-Smoked Salmon on a Cedar Plank with Grilled Mini Bagels
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Cedar Plank Chocolate Brownie S’Mores
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Planked Salmon with Maple-Mustard Glaze
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Cedar-Planked Eggplant Parmigiana
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We’d love to hear your planking stories. Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or Instagram!
The post Planking, Demystified appeared first on Barbecuebible.com.
Title: Planking, Demystified
Sourced From: barbecuebible.com/2021/07/23/planking-demystified/
Published Date: 07/23/21
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When my wife suggested having kebabs recently, I imagined I'd be cooking meat on a stick because that's inevitably where one's mind goes when using the word “kebab.” With new recipes for the site always a priority, I set out to find or create something not previously covered here and began scrolling the interwebs and Instagram for inspiration. When I came across a video of chapli kebab being fried in a large pan on the street, I was immediately taken. I dug a little deeper and familiarized myself the best I could from video, words, and pictures with the different varieties of chapli kebab made in Afghanistan and Pakistan and knew this highly seasoned ground meat mixture was going to be right up my ally. So I gave it shot and was completely won over by these non-skewered little discs of beef that I can't say represent authenticity for sure, but they certainly deliver on immense deliciousness.
The variation in chapli kebab between the two countries seem mostly to be around the exact seasoning mixture, but they are also not that far separated in that arena. I assume there's differences from vendor to vendor as well, so I doubt there's one right answer, which gives me hope that my initial combination of spices that included coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, and pomegranate seeds, which I toasted and ground, was starting out on the right foot.
The spices were just the beginning though, these kebabs had a ton of veggie mix-ins too—the chopping of all the onions, green chilies, tomato, cilantro, scallions, and garlic represented the most time and effort in this recipe. Once those were all prepped, it was quick to mix everything together with the high-fat ground beef plus the gram (chickpea) flour and egg used as binders.
Once I had the mixture looking evenly distributed, I began portioning and shaping. I did this by breaking off roughly a 2-inch ball of meat and flattening it between my palms into a disc a little over three inches in diameter and about half an inch tall.
Now frying in animal fat is the traditional way to cook these kebabs, but I figured they had to do well on the grill. That confidence was slightly defeated as I found they didn't grill with the ease I was imagining. The amount of veggies that went into the meat made it looser than things like meatballs and burgers, and that led the first couple patties I tried to flip to fall apart.
I was able to avoid that folly going forward by ensuring the first side we very well seared before trying to move them at all. For something like a burger, this would make me nervous about uneven and potential overcooking, but I did want these kebabs cooked all the way through, plus a deep sear seemd to be the right course of action given chapli kebab is usually fried and get just as browned, if not more, in the hot oil.
Once the patties were all done, I plated them up on fresh naan-e-afghani along with fresh sliced tomatoes, red onion, and lime wedges. I knew by just reading the ingredient list that I was going to love these, but I wasn't prepared for how much I was going to love them—for someone attracted to big flavors, these probably delivered the most flavor of any kebabs I've ever had. There was an upfront heat that had a great freshness to it which melded with the cilantro, scallions, and tomato. There was then a background sweetness that I attributed to the onions, while the spices gave that earthy quality which is common in a lot of Middle Eastern and Persian dishes. I didn't include the fresh veggies and bread accompaniments when I originally wrote up this recipe, but they felt so central to the meal as a whole that I thought they had to be added in to really deliver the full experience that brought me so much joy the day I made these chapli kebab.
Published on Thu Jul 29, 2021 by Joshua Bousel
- Yield 3-4 servings
- Prep 20 Minutes
- Cook 10 Minutes
- Total 30 Minutes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dried pomegranate seeds
- 1 pound ground beef (at least 20% fat)
- 1 cup finely minced onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 1/2 cup diced tomato
- 1/3 cup finely minced fresh cilantro
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped green chili (such as Anaheim or jalapeño)
- 3 tablespoons finely minced scallions (about 2 scallions)
- 3 tablespoons gram flour
- 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- For Serving
- Sliced fresh vegetables (such as tomato, red onion, and cucumber)
- 1 lemon or lime, wedged
- Place coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, and pomegranate seeds in a small skillet set over medium-high heat. Toast until spices become fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer spices to a spice grinder or granite mortar and pestle and process into a coarse powder.
- Place beef in a large bowl and add in ground spices, onion, tomato, cilantro, green chili, scallions, gram flour, garlic, salt, crushed red pepper, and egg. Using hands, combine mixture until ingredients are evenly distributed. Break off a roughly 2-inch ball of meat mixture and flatten into a patty roughly 3-inches wide and 1/2-inch thick. Place patty on tray and repeat process until all meat has been shaped.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place patties on grill and cook until well seared on first side, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip patties and continue to cook until second side is well seared and meat is cooked throughout, another 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer patties to a serving platter and serve immediately with fresh vegetables, citrus wedges, and/or naan-e-afghani.
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By: email@example.com (Joshua Bousel)
Title: Chapli Kebab
Sourced From: meatwave.com/recipes/afghani-chapli-kebab-recipe
Published Date: 07/29/21
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