Salt and pepper are a staple in every kitchen. Yet, many people don’t know how to properly use them. It seems pretty simple. You just sprinkle some salt on to taste and grind some black pepper before cooking. Well, nothing wrong with that but dry brining is a much better way to season your food.
Dry brining is a system in which you salt your food, particularly meat, ahead of time. When you spend money on good quality food, it makes sense to do the things that bring more of the flavor and texture out of it. This is what dry brining does.
In this article, we will go over the basics of dry brining and why you should be incorporating this into your cooking routine.
Dry brining vs seasoning
When you dry brine you aren’t just seasoning your meat as you would by using salt. In fact, you still should salt your meat even after it has been dry brined. The idea is that dry brining isn’t just a way to get a salty flavor in your meat. It helps to also break down the fibers of the meat and make it more tender.
When you dry brine meat, it won’t even taste that salty when it has been cooked. What it does is bring out the natural flavors of whatever you are cooking. Seasoning is a way to add flavor to the meat in addition to the natural flavors. This means you still need to add some salt.
After grilling a dry brined Wagyu ribeye, you’ll want to break out your best Wagyu seasoning salt. The result will be perfectly seasoned and melt in your mouth. After cooking is when you will want to use your specialty salts like sea salt.
When to dry brine
The best time to dry brine your meat is up to 24 hours before you plan to cook. If you can’t manage that long, at least overnight is good. In fact, you can even get away with bringing it just a few hours before you plan to cook if you aren’t able to do it a day ahead.
Dry brining chicken and fish will require far less time. A whole chicken can certainly be dry brined the day ahead, but a chicken in pieces will be best with a shorter brining time such as a few hours. Fish should be dry brined around an hour before cooking.
Does it dry out the meat?
Contrary to popular belief, dry brining meat won’t dry it out. What happens is that the proteins are broken down by the salt so it is very tender. Even if you overcook it, the meat will still be tender and soft.
The key is to not oversalt it. You aren’t trying to cure it so salting it as much as you normally would before cooking is probably going to be too much salt. Instead, use a half teaspoon of salt per pound of meat. If you have a steak that is half a pound, then this is going to end up being very little salt used.
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