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Journal FortKnox's Journal: A Foray into Brining 16

Being a giant AB fan, and being completely stuck in the house due to the 1/2"Ice, 6"snow fest we had in Cincy, I decided to pop out "I'm just here for the food" and try a brine for some pork chops. After the 6 hour brine, I pulled them out (had to of swelled up 1/4-1/2"!), patted them dry (as per his instructions), and broiled them. I took them out, and in wild anticipation took a giant bite. Wow.... that's some salty pork!!

I was a bit perturbed. I cooked one chop without brining (for the wife in case the brining went awry, but she ended up having more than I). You could taste the major flavor boost between the two, if you could ignore all the salt. So something must went a bit off.

I don't know exactly what went wrong (unless its supposed to taste like straight anchovies). I'm hoping I can get some insight here. My father said you should wash off something brined, not just pat dried. The saltiness was on the surface of the meat, the flavor is inside. Is that correct? Any help would be beneficial.
Oh, and if you have the book, I made the "Dip for Mr. Dennis" on page 186 I think. I also didn't have any juniper berries, so I just excluded them (where in the hell do you find juniper berries??). Oh, and I also didn't transfer the cooked and cooled brine to a bucket, I just brined it in the same pot I cooked it in (and put it in the garage, which is pretty much the same temp as the fridge).

Any ideas on what went wrong??
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A Foray into Brining

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  • I mean... picture it, you take the candy corn and put it in the space where a tooth fell out...

    Seriously, i'd have rinsed the meat off, and i think temperature might make a difference. But i don't have much practice brining anything but cucumber pickles, so i'm not the best one to ask. Maybe email my mum or ask her on the cavalcade- she might know.

  • Was your water to salt ratio spot on? Too much salt or not enough water could result in a problem. Or too much time in the brine. Or maybe Alton likes the salt? Try it again and roll back the salt content.
    • it was 2 quarts water, 1&1/2 cups of salt.

      I used a measurement for both, so they were fine going into the pot (there was also molasis to add to the 'water' aspect).

      Perhaps I let it boil too long and lost that ratio to evaporation??
      • Boiling too long? Yup, that could do it. How strong was the boil, and how long? This commonly happens in brewing, fwiw.
        • Well, that's the thing. There was so much salt and so much molasses in the pot that it was hard to tell when it was boiling. It started with really tiny bubbles, and I was looking for a hard boil. Dunno what actually constitutes a 'boil' with that recipe.
          • I think that those proportions seem pretty close to a saturated solution, so evaporation would just precipitate out some salt, without significantly increasing the strength of the solution. If this is correct, then I'd be more inclined to the "rinse rather than pat dry" approach.
          • Looking at the recipe, that's a pretty concentrated solution. I'd say up the water and/or cut back on the salt. It should achieve the same effect as repeated rinsing, without the extra work.

            Also, doesn't AB have updates on his website, like if there is a misprint in the book, FAQs, etc? Might want to check on that.
  • When last I bought them (a recipe for cassoulet, I think, more than five years ago), they were in the spice area at the local grocery. The major brands (Spice Islands, McCormick) did not have them; it was an off-brand, and they were in an oddly-shaped bottle. Although the variety of spices available seems to have decreased, you should still be able to find them in a well-stocked supermarket.
    • Or an organic/health food store. The local hippie coop has a whole wall of spices sold by bulk -- a huge selection and a lot cheaper, especially if you only need a 1/4 teaspoon of something weird and expensive.

      Makes up for the fact that the service there is like the stories I've heard about shopping in the Soviet Union.

  • After the 6 hour soak in the brine. Take them out, pat them off as per what you did, then soak them an hour in clear water, changing the water every 10-15 minutes. It'll get rid of some of the salt, but still leave the taste in there.

    The water you brine in can have an effect too - just like when canning. I use filtered/distilled store bought water when I do it. There's no chlorine, excess salt, or nasty minerals (think iron, arsenic, et al) to alter the taste. It's a small thing, often overlooked, but it c
  • Well, if you are in need, I could devise a way to organically re-constitute them from gin. If you happen to have any gin on hand please send it my way (esp. if its bombay sapphire or some other premium gin) and I'll see what I can do.
  • where in the hell do you find juniper berries?
    On a juniper bush!
    /me ducks and runs for cover.

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