Marinating your meats and fish before cooking them is very common to impart as much flavor as possible. Although I love to marinate, there is another way to bring out the flavors of food. Dry brining is the answer.
Although there is nothing wrong with marinating your food, dry brining is far simpler and way more effective.
Dry brining involves salting food, particularly meat, in advance. When investing in high-quality ingredients, it’s sensible to use techniques that enhance their flavor and texture – this is precisely what dry brining achieves. In this article, I’ll go over some fundamentals of dry brining and discuss why you should incorporate it into your cooking routine.
Dry Brining vs. Seasoning
Dry brining differs from merely seasoning meat with salt. You should still salt your meat even after it has been dry-brined. The purpose of dry brining is not only to infuse a salty flavor into the meat but also to break down its fibers and tenderize it.
Cooked, dry-brined meat won’t taste overly salty. Instead, it will accentuate the dish’s natural flavors. Seasoning adds flavor to the meat and its natural taste, so you’ll still need to include some salt.
After grilling a dry-brined Wagyu ribeye, for example, use your finest steak seasoning salt. The result will be impeccably seasoned and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Specialty salts, such as sea salt, should be used after cooking. Just check out this steak grilling guide outdoors to get more information on how to grill a great steak.
When to Dry Brine
Ideally, dry brine your meat up to 24 hours before cooking. Allowing it to brine overnight is still beneficial if this isn’t possible. In a pinch, you can even dry brine a few hours before cooking if you can’t prepare a day beforehand.
Dry brining chicken and fish require less time. A whole chicken can be dry-brined the day before, but chicken pieces should only be brined for a few hours. Fish should be dry-brined approximately an hour before cooking.
Does It Dry Out the Meat?
Contrary to popular opinion, dry brining does not dry out the meat. Instead, the salt breaks down the proteins, making it tender. Even if overcooked, the meat will remain tender and soft.
The key is not to oversalt. You’re not attempting to cure the meat, so using as much salt as you typically would before cooking may result in excessive saltiness. A better guideline is to use half a teaspoon of salt per pound of meat. For a half-pound steak, this equates to a minimal amount of salt.
Apart from tenderizing and enhancing the flavors of the meat, dry brining offers several other benefits that make it a valuable addition to your cooking routine.
The process of dry brining can improve the Maillard reaction – the chemical reaction responsible for browning and developing a flavorful crust on the surface of cooked meats. It’s also a far less costly method to flavor meat than using a marinade since all you essentially need is salt.