Farmer's Table basics: brining--a genius tip for faster thawing and more flavorful meat.

I'm a fan of Michael Ruhlman, who authored the book Ratio. One day, while stalking his Instagram feed, I came across a picture of a hanger steak in a dish of water. The caption read: "Last-minute decision to grill hanger steak tonight. Frozen. And 5% brine. Best way to quick thaw something." The idea was brilliant. As someone who shops at the farmer's market for my meat most of the time, some of it eventually ends up frozen. It's such a bummer to get home after a long day of work only to realize you forgot to take the chicken or the pork chops out of the freezer. But by unwrapping the protein and adding it to a brine solution, I could quickly thaw, add flavor and tenderize my protein at the same time.

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Brine for Meat
To make a 5% brine solution, you need about 1/3 c. of kosher salt for 2 quarts of cool water. If you have a kitchen scale (and I recommend that you get one, if you don't--it will change your life!), you can be more precise. Whisk together the salt and water until dissolved, and the brine is ready to use. Soak your protein in the brine until it's fully thawed (this time will vary depending on the size and type of meat used), then remove and allow to drain, patting the protein dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. 

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Farmer's Table basics: brining--a genius tip for faster thawing and more flavorful meat.

5/4/2015

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I'm a fan of Michael Ruhlman, who authored the book Ratio. One day, while stalking his Instagram feed, I came across a picture of a hanger steak in a dish of water. The caption read: "Last-minute decision to grill hanger steak tonight. Frozen. And 5% brine. Best way to quick thaw something." The idea was brilliant. As someone who shops at the farmer's market for my meat most of the time, some of it eventually ends up frozen. It's such a bummer to get home after a long day of work only to realize you forgot to take the chicken or the pork chops out of the freezer. But by unwrapping the protein and adding it to a brine solution, I could quickly thaw, add flavor and tenderize my protein at the same time.

 

Brine for Meat
To make a 5% brine solution, you need about 1/3 c. of kosher salt for 2 quarts of cool water. If you have a kitchen scale (and I recommend that you get one, if you don't--it will change your life!), you can be more precise. Whisk together the salt and water until dissolved, and the brine is ready to use. Soak your protein in the brine until it's fully thawed (this time will vary depending on the size and type of meat used), then remove and allow to drain, patting the protein dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. 

 

If you have more time on your hands, you  may wish to add some aromatics to your brine. I like to do this by steeping a few dried chillies, snipped into pieces, as well as bay leaves, rosemary, peppercorn or mustard seeds in boiling water. Stir in the salt at any point, and refrigerate or let stand until the water is room temperature before using (otherwise you run the risk of poaching your protein).  

Heather Cross