About 20 years ago I learned the secret to getting super tender meat every time on the grill from my son Nick, it is Brining, and it is game-changer for the Summer grilling season.
Brining works in 2 ways. 1st, the salt alters the protein structures inside the meat. It allows the cells to retain more moisture, effectively trapping water inside. Then when you cook the meat, some of that moisture evaporates but most of it remains. The brine also breaks down meat’s tough muscle fibers, preventing them from tightening up as they cook. These loose fibers are less likely to squeeze out water, so the meat stays nice and juicy.
Brining is a no-recipe-required kind of event. Simply combine 1 tablespoon of salt for every cup of water. You need enough water to completely cover the meat; usually, four cups of water (and 1/4 cup of salt) will do it.
If you leave meat in the brine too long, it can definitely get too salty.
A good rule is to brine super-thin fish fillets for 10 mins. Seafood like shrimp and thin cuts of pork or poultry take 15 to 30 mins. Larger cuts like whole chicken can brine overnight, and very large turkeys can sit as long as 48 hours.
Any lean cut of meat will benefit from brining especially chicken breasts, pork chops, pork tenderloin, shrimp, or fish.
These types of meat do not have a lot of intermuscular fat or marbling to keep them from drying out as they cook. The brine will all but guarantee you will not end up with a chewy piece of dry meat.
Never brine a kosher, self-basting, or enhanced turkey these types of turkeys are already treated with salt, so brining them could render them inedible.
It is not necessary to brine fattier cuts of pork or poultry, like the belly meat or chicken thighs, but it will not hurt. When it comes to red meats like beef or lamb, you are better off using a dry-brining method and salting them directly. These cuts are so full flavored on their own, they can take the direct seasoning better than the lean cuts. This method works for both expensive and cheaper cuts of the meat you have chosen. In fact, brining is even listed as one of the 13 tricks to make cheaper cuts of meat taste more expensive Check out the Griller’s Tricks.
Have a terrific holiday weekend