The boring stuff:
According to Wikipedia.org:
Brining is a process similar to marinating in which meat or poultry is soaked in brine before cooking. Salt is added to cold water in a container, where the meat is soaked anywhere from 30 minutes to a few days. The amount of time needed to brine depends on the size of the meat. More time is needed for a large turkey compared to a broiler fryer chicken. Similarly with a large roast versus a thin cut of meat.
Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked, via the process of denaturation. The brine surrounding the cells has a higher concentration of salt than the fluid within the cells, but the cell fluid has a higher concentration of other solutes. This leads salt ions to diffuse into the cell, whilst the solutes in the cells cannot diffuse through the cell membranes into the brine. The increased salinity of the cell fluid causes the cell to absorb water from the brine via osmosis. The salt introduced into the cell also denatures its proteins. The proteins coagulate, forming a matrix that traps water molecules and holds them during cooking. This prevents the meat from dehydrating.
Got that? Well to me, brining is simply submerging a food in liquid to flavor and moisturize it from the outside in. I understand that the reasons and results detailed in the above wiki explanation means that the process is much more involved that what we may think, which is why I included it for your reading pleasure! I still stand by what I said, I consider brining a process of flavoring and moisturizing – that I happen to love to use! I brine whole turkeys before I roast them to keep them from being dry and flavorless. I also brine pork shoulder before slow cooking when I make pulled pork. When I was first introduced to brining, I was told to use equal amounts of salt and sugar dissolved in water and to cover the meat and leave it in the brining liquid overnight. I now add other things to my brining liquid. You can also “lace your bird” by adding garlic, ginger or lemon under the skin. Add garlic powder, onion powder or liquid smoke to your brining liquid. Try using different flavor liquids and to see how it affects the meat. For example, using a little apple juice or apple cider in the water. How about a little wine in the brining liquid – etc! Experiment and see how you like it! It’s only food and it’s all good!!!
How to brine: Get a large stock pot and fill it with liquid based on our discussion above. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salt and sugar. Add any additional flavorings and the meat of choice. Make sure meat is totally submerged in the brining liquid. Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight for best results. Remove meat from brining liquid and discard liquid. Drain meat, season skin and cook based on your chosen cooking method (roast, bake, fry, grill – etc). When meat is fully cooked, rest (let it sit) 15 – 20 minutes before cutting or carvings to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
1. Brining. (2014, December 31). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:38, January 19, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Brining&oldid=640382948