There are many ways to prepare meat to go on the smoker. One of those ways is to brine the meat prior to cooking. This is a method often employed with poultry and enhances the flavor and moisture of the bird. Even though it is commonly used with chicken or turkey, it can be employed with with other meats as well.
Methods of brining
There are two methods of brining exist. Wet brining and dry brining. Wet brining involves a salt water solution and dry brining uses the same ingredients less the liquid. Whether you wet brine (my preference) or dry brine, the process will take anywhere from an hour to overnight depending on the size of what you are brining. When I brine my turkey, I will do that overnight. A general rule out there is one hour per pound.
How to make a wet brine
I prefer a wet brine when I look at brining. A brine is very simple to make.
1/2 gallon of water.
1/2 gallon of kosher salt.
It’s that simple. Mix the two ingredients until the salt dissolves and you have your brine. Some folks like to heat the mixture and you can do that as well. I tend to just mix it up. If you do heat up the brine, you must allow it to cool in order to ensure there is no bacteria buildup. Putting it in the fridge will do the trick.
Once complete, fill a bag with the mixture and submerge the meat into the mixture. If you are looking at brining a large item like a turkey you may need to purchase brining bags like these.
Things to watch out for
Adding too much salt.
Make sure all sale is dissolved.
Ensure water is cooled before submerging meat (if mixture was heated).
Do not brine the meat too long. An hour per pound is the guideline.
Ensure the meat is entirely submerged in the brine.
Once completed and the meat is cooking, be careful as it will cook faster than maybe you are used to.
So, should you brine?
Well, that is up to you. Some feel it is necessary, some feel it is not. I’m somewhere in the middle. I almost always brine a turkey and I will brine chicken from time to time depending on the type and recipe. I never brine beef, pork or any other meat. Just poultry typically.
I would encourage you to try it and see for yourself. As an alternative, I have found this commercial brine that I really enjoy.
Happy smoking and please let me know how you make out!
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