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How To Brine Chicken, Beef And Pork

Published by: Chef David Rice • Updated: January 30, 2024 • Checked By: Chef Matty Riedel

Let’s say it’s Saturday night, and all you want to do is cook a lovely meal for you and your family to enjoy after a long week. You pop over to the butchers, and those thick-cut pork chops catch your eye. You bring a few chops home, give them a quick sear in your favourite frying pan, and finish them off in a moderately hot oven, only to discover upon your first bite that you’ve overcooked the lot. There goes way too much cash on another round of dry chops!

Rinse and repeat with chicken and beef; now you’ve joined the Dry Meat Club.

What’s a home cook to do?

The solution is brining…

How To Brine Meat (Chicken, Pork & Beef)

If you’ve found yourself a lifelong member of The Dry Meat Club, there is indeed a hopeful solution. We’re talking brining!

Brining is when you take a protein, such as chicken, beef, or pork, and submerge it in a salty bath for anywhere from a couple of hours to overnight to enhance the flavour and juiciness of your preferred cut of meat.

Unlike a simple salt and pepper mix just before you sear off that thick chop, the brine seasons your meat all the way through and gives you the flavour you crave and the juiciness you want in your pork chop. You can customize your brine solution with other flavorful aromatics, such as herbs, garlic, or even sugar, to impart moisture and flavour to your meat BEFORE you even begin the cooking process.

how to brine meat

But you don’t want to brine willy-nilly. Following a recipe is important for everything in the kitchen, and brining is no different. Our simple recipes will ensure a perfectly seasoned, remarkably juicy, and flavourful cut of meat on your next Saturday night bash. Call your mates round, get out the grill, and have a go. We’re confident that brining will take your meat cooking game to a whole new level.

Brining Tips & Tricks

First, the simplest way to brine a piece of meat is to use the 9% method. It looks like this:

Simple Chicken Brining Recipe

Ingredients

  • 90g salt (or 9%)
  • 1Liter water (or 100%)

Method

  • Mix the salt and water together in a saucepan over medium-high heat until the salt is dissolved. Cool off your bine completely in the fridge (best done overnight). Once your brine is cool, submerge your choice of chicken into the mixture and refrigerate the lot for 1-2 hours.
  • At this point, you have choices. You can either pat your chicken pieces dry with a paper towel and cook off your chicken immediately (a good option for boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs). If you’re using skin-on pieces of chicken or a whole bird, plan ahead and let that paper towel-dried chicken sit in the fridge overnight. This will allow the skin to dry out a bit before you cook it off, which will not only give you flavorful meat (thank you brining solution!) but will give your chicken skin a chance to dry out so that it can crisp up when you cook it – yum!

Go (Brine) Big Or Go Home

If you want to crank your brining game even further, here’s our Master Brining Recipe. The salt proportion and timing change depending on what kind of meat you’re brining, so pay close attention to those details. This Master Brining Recipe introduces aromatics into your brine, which will up the flavour game even more and make your tastebuds sing.

how to brine meat

Master Brining Recipe

Ingredients

  • 90g Salt (or 9%)
  • 1 litre water (or 100%)
  • 20 g Thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 30g Sugar (white or brown)
  • 10 Peppercorns
  • The grated rind of one lemon
  • The juice of one lemon

Method

  • Place all of the brining ingredients in a large pot. Heat up for a few minutes to dissolve the salt and sugar, but do not boil (boiling promotes bitterness).
  • Chill the brining solution thoroughly in the fridge (overnight is best)
  • Submerge your chosen meat in the brining solution for the desired time (see Times and Percentages below).
  • Once you’ve reached your determined brining time, remove the meat from the brine solution and dry it thoroughly with paper towels. If desired, let the meat further dry overnight in the fridge on a small tray or uncovered rack to dry out the surface area.

Times And Percentages

  • Brine %

    Brine Time

  • Chicken Wings/Chicken Pieces

    9%

    2 hours

  • Whole Chicken

    9%

    2 hours

  • Roast Beef Joint, top side etc

    10%

    12 – 14 hours

  • Roast Pork Joint (Pro Tip: take out some of the water and lemon juice and add cider – Cornish Rattler is my favourite!)

    10%

    10 – 12 hours


How To Brine Meat: Summing Up

This is upper-level meat cooking. Restaurant quality. The best of the best. You can’t go wrong with brining a high-end cut of meat. So, whether you have a craving for the best chicken wings of your life, or you want to enjoy that thick-cut chop next week (without drying it out!), give brining a go. You won’t be disappointed! With a little planning and time to execute this recipe, you’ll be laughing all the way to the butchers. Cheers!

Chef David Rice