The way for more tenderness and juiciness.
People first started brining meat wet and dry for preservation. Which is still how are holiday hams are made. Chefs like to brine to add flavor, tenderness, and more juice. In my most recent years as a professional chef I have created a little pork chop reputation. I of course can't take all the credit I first started with a cut of dry aged meat. When it comes to pork in a restaurant so many people have said to me, " I never order pork because whenever I give a try I am disappointed with it, its dry." I always surprise people that you can convince to try it, the key is brining the pork chop. I also like to make my own deli style turkey or chicken, the key is brine.
So this is what happens.
The brining solution must always contain salt. I like using salt and sugar. It can be that basic, but adding aromatics can enhance and helps those flavors really enter the meat. When you put a protein into a brine the solution will go into the protein itself to equalize the salt levels. Yes salt draws out moisture but when you cook the meat it helps the meat retain moisture by relaxing the protein. Essentially during the brining process it is gaining the brine solution so gaining liquid as well as salt and flavors. When you cook the meat it still loses the same amount of moisture but it gained the solution ending in a juicer piece of meat. The salt as I said relaxes the protein, and cells within are expanded and will not shrink back up .
How to achieve success.
Timing is important. Leaving protein in a salty solution for too long can result in a mushy salt bomb. In the restaurant most of the time it was a 24 hour period of time, but we brined several pounds of meat at a time so, 1 to 1 1/2 hours per pound is a good rule of thumb. Always pat dry before cooking, which will lead to a crisper crust and nice browning.
I hope you give this a try. So many of us are at home right now and this is a nice way to save a bit of money at the grocery store. Deli meat can be quite expensive per pound, and full of nitrites and other not so good ingredients. This is super simple. I left it for around 10 hours and roasted the turkey breasts the next morning, I did add some seasoning on the outside. I would of preferred skin on and bone in turkey breast but the store did not have it. The skin and bone will help with flavor and moisture as well. Then later I made some turkey and apple grilled sandwiches. Yum!
I have included two brine recipes in the recipe tab. Check them out.