March Charcutepalooza: Brining

Once again, Mr. Hippie wholeheartedly participated in this month’s challenge. It would seem that if it involves meat, he’s onboard. 

I couldn’t decide what to brine this month, so I tried a couple of different things in basically the same marinade.  I started with Ruhlman’s All-purpose brine and adjusted the seasonings.  Ever since hubby and I came back from Jamaica on our honeymoon I have been in love with jerk.  I even jerked onions and wild leeks (to rave reviews) last year.   Jerk brine seemed like a natural match for both chicken and pork so I made a gallon of brine and brined two different chickens and a pork butt from Olds Farm.

A basic brine is pretty simple. 

Water

Start with a half-gallon of water,

Salt and brown sugar

 add a cup of salt and  half a cup of (I used brown) sugar. 

Bring it to a boil and add the seasonings that you want.  I added:

Garlic, Scallion, Ginger

 a head of garlic, beaten with the rolling-pin, some onion tops (green sprouts) and a whole onion (also beaten with the rolling-pin), two minced, candied ginger medallions,

Thyme

some thyme dug from under the snow,

Dried spices

a whole dried chili, a teaspoon or so of peppercorns and a similar amount of whole allspice (again, beaten with the rolling-pin).  After that all came to a boil I let it steep for a few minutes and then added another half-gallon of water and let it cool before brining the first chicken.

Smoked, brined chicken

The first chicken was brined about 9 hours as Ruhlman recommended and smoked.  The smoke flavor overpowered the seasonings but in the words of Mr. Hippie, “I think this is the most wonderful-est chicken we’ve ever made.”  It truly was delicious.   Served with beans and rice it was a magnificent dinner.

Brined chicken

 The second chicken was left in the brine even longer, about 12 hours, but not smoked, just baked.  It was equally delicious. 

Brined pork and mashed potatoes.

After two chickens we still had enough unused brine left to do a pork butt.  It was amazing.  We ate so much of it by cutting “samples” off the edges as it roasted that I barely put any on my plate when it was time to actually eat dinner. With local mashed potatoes and homemade gravy from freezer stock and pan drippings it was excellent.

What (little) that was left of the pork was simmered in stock all day to make delicious pulled-pork sandwiches for our dinner tonight.

Everything I brined was amazing.  Moist, flavorful and delicious.  I’ve brined another chicken since but reduced the recipe by a fourth so that I only ended up with a quart of brine.  It is just about the perfect amount for a whole chicken.  Brining takes a little advanced planning, but isn’t much work and the results are worth the effort.

Next up?

Buffalo flank.  I’m going to attempt to corn it.

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8 Comments

Filed under Charcutepalooza

8 responses to “March Charcutepalooza: Brining

  1. Wow, corned buffalo flank! That I can’t wait to hear about !
    I want to go face down in that roast chicken! Yum! And you dug your thyme out of the snow? Commitment. Mine always dies back. Odd. Maybe it likes snow better than deluge =)

  2. Just found your blog. I was walking through my kitchen and there it was lying on the floor. Made me wonder how many times I stepped over it yesterday without seeing it. Ah well, its found now and I must say it is quite enjoyable and well kept up. ) I was searching for help with bad soap recipes) We’re a meat loving, organic supporting, some days sustainable farm and we love to see how others like us live day to day. Anyway, great blog.

  3. I followed the link to the onions and that is something I will have to try this season

  4. Dear God that smoked bird looks awesome! Can’t wait to hear how the corned buffalo turns out. Are you using pink salt? I have some if you want.

    • aastricker

      Thanks, but I’ve been doing okay without it. I’m not worried about Botulism, so I don’t think I need it.

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