When most of us think of a brine, our minds conjure up juicy, big hams and delectable bacon, while others start drooling at the thought of sinking their teeth into some smoked salmon. Brines do make meat taste good, and if you haven’t been experimenting with different concoctions its time you did.
Brining has become very popular and if you were paying attention to recipes and videos of how to cook turkeys last Thanksgiving, you would have heard and seen an abundance of brine recipes for big birds. Brines add flavor, but they also help keep different meats moist, especially the ones that tend to dry out.
I’ve messed around with brines for years and have made venison hams, smoked trout, and even brined several different steaks and chops. The recipe below is what I’d describe as an all-purpose brine. That is, you could use it on birds, red meat or fish to flavor them into delicious meals your family will keep asking for.
I recently found a good test for the brine and used it on a black bear loin. Bear meat should be cooked well-done to ensure there isn’t a chance of getting trichinosis. It is recommended you cook bear until it has an internal temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit. I always use a meat probe, or thermometer to ensure I get it off the grill the second it hits the right temperature. The brine kept the meat moist and when I shared the loin with a group of friends, there weren’t any leftovers.
Get creative and try using the brine recipe below, and don’t be afraid to tweak it for your own flavor preferences.
All-Purpose Flavor Brine
Makes enough for a small to medium roast, 4 steaks or chops, duck or goose breasts. For larger cuts, such as loin or round roasts, or whole birds, double or triple the recipe.
• 2½ cups water
• ½ cup beef broth
• 3 Tbsp soy sauce
• 1½ Tbsp molasses
• 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
• 3 Tbsp salt
• 3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
• 3 cloves crushed garlic
• 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
• ½ tsp smoked paprika
• 2 cups ice cubes
1. Stir together the water, beef broth, soya and Worcestershire sauces, molasses, salt and sugar until dissolved. Stir in the ice and any other flavorings and cool the brine.
2. Place meat in a zipper-lock bag. Pour in the flavor brine and seal the bag. Place the bag in a bowl in case it leaks and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours, depending on the thickness of the meat. Remove the meat, discard the flavor brine, and pat dry. Proceed with the recipe, or wrap the chops in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook, up to two days.
3. Always air dry and let warm to room temperature before cooking.