Andy's Cooking Class: The Best Pork Brine
Andy Anderson !
Brining is the solution, and this particular brine produces a wonderful juicy chop with hints of sweet Autumn apples.
So, you ready... let's get into the kitchen.
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On March 2, 1987 American television viewers heard this slogan for the first time: “Pork, the other white meat." And even today, 28 years later, we still associate that slogan with the purchase of pork.
Let’s turn back the clock 60 years or so… to the fabulous 50’s. Back then pork was considered an unhealthy fatty form of meat, and the American consumer wanted something leaner. That particular consumer was the American housewife. Back in the fifties 88% of women cleaned the house, raised the children, cooked the meals, and purchased the food. And hogs had long been identified with gluttony and excess.
They wanted, nay they demanded, something better than fatty slices of meat, so they began turning to poultry and leaner cuts of beef. It was thought that products like Crisco were a healthier alternative to animal fat. That’s totally wrong; however, so is the term “housewife.” Go figure.
The pork industry knew that they needed to do something… I mean they had 200 pounds hogs that were losing the consumer battle to a 5-pound chicken. How embarrassing is that?
Over the course of the next 20 or so years, they began breeding a SUPER hog… They were bigger in weight (hogs today can reach 300 pounds), but with less fat.
The pork industry had pulled it off; they had created a hog with almost no fat. It was truly the “other white meat.”
The American consumer had struck a blow for the health of their families, and the unwashed masses gave a collective shout of victory. But the victory was bittersweet.
What was now being placed on the consumer’s dinner table was dried out pieces of pork. We had won the battle; however, we had lost the war. We got what we asked for, but we didn’t like it.
Today, several hog producers are attempting to recreate the hogs of the past. Not quite as fatty, but fattier than today’s animals. All but the oldest of Americans have ever tasted that pork. The problem is the new hogs will take about 20 years before they come to market. So what to do? Well, how about brining…
In brining it’s a simple process of osmosis (now that’s a word that I don’t get to use very often). Simply stated, the brine liquid has a higher specific density than the liquid within the cells of the pork. When two liquids of different densities are placed together they will begin to mix.
The cells in the pork are semi-permeable, so when they encounter a denser liquid they will begin to absorb it into their cell structure. This gives the pork more liquid and increases the cell pressure (turgor). That additional liquid will help to produce a juicer piece of pork.
Rinse pork twice after removing it from the brine solution and then discard brine.
Do not salt brined meat before cooking.
Cook pork according to your favorite recipes.
Do not overcook brined pork. Once brined, the pork cooks faster so be careful and use a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat.
Keep brine refrigerated until ready to use.