Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Into the briny deep with the Daring Cooks


Audax Artifex returned as a host of the Daring Cooks this month and challenged us to brine then roast meat, vegetables or seeds. In true audax fashion, he gave us very clear instructions on how to properly brine and cook our food as well as excellent detail on the advantages of doing so.

Brining isn’t new to us; in fact we brined a chicken breast in tea for a challenge about a year ago. We also brine our Thanksgiving turkey each year – once you try it you won’t go back to dry turkey!

Still, this is a tool we rarely pull out of the arsenal – I think there’s something about planning in advance that we just fail at every time. So the challenge was well positioned to remind us that brining isn’t just for turkey and that it doesn’t have to be an overnight/multi-day affair.

To try to prove this to ourselves, we brined pork chops for a simple weeknight dinner. When we got home from work, we simply popped the pork into a bath of salt, brown sugar, a couple of drops of soy sauce, a piece of star anise and a few coriander seeds and pepper corns for good measure. And no, i didn’t measure any of it.

Brine 003

An hour later, we broiled the pork chops in the oven and 10 minutes later dinner was ready. (your actual time may vary).

Brine 007

While the pork cooked, we sautéed green beans, cooked up a bed of mushrooms and boiled rice. And we swear to take the moment to brine again on an ordinary night like this. It really does make a difference.

The beauty of a brine is that you can add a subtle flavor without a lot of prep time – at least not hands-on prep, which is the only kind I really count. Tea makes a great brine, herbs and juniper berries are wonderful. And just plain salt water will still add moistness and a depth of flavor to your dish. Go lightly with the spiciness and saltiness – you want to be careful not to have an unpleasantly salty meal, but to be able to get a modest amount of flavor all the way through it.

Audax of Audax Artifax was our November 2012 Daring Cooks’ host. Audax has brought us into the world of brining and roasting, where we brined meat and vegetables and roasted them afterwards for a delicious meal!

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