I don’t often do this for “regular” meals, but I am very excited for Friday’s dinner in the J Lethal household. Now don’t get me wrong: I am so happy just to be able to eat. And cook. But there are just sometimes that I get an idea and I cannot wait to try it. And you might be thinking “What’s a ‘regular’ meal?” Well I’m glad you asked. Here, I am classifying a regular meal as one just for my wife and I. No extra family. No Friends. No Rules. Just right.
If you know anything about me from my posts so far, or if you happen to work with me, you know that I am very fond of cooking pork. I’ve gotten pretty dang good at it, so I plan on exploiting this on Friday. The faux marketing major in me wants to add here that you should be on the look out after Friday because there will be pictures a plenty.
Pork. I’ve cooked it 100 times, and every time it’s at least slightly different than the time before. I think that’s both a testament to A. Trying new things and B. The nature of cooking itself. I think it is nearly impossible to simulate the exact same meal or dish more than once. You can come close, and this is where big restaurants make their profits, but I don’t think it’s ever identical, no matter how much you pay for that steak. Or pork. Or whatever.
Slight tangent there, but I think it’s an important point to note that cooking is an ever evolving experience. We all learn new things, or at least remember old things. And for everything else, there’s Mastercard…..so you can go to that restaurant and get a not-perfectly-simulated meal. I find that I digress far too often here.
Is it possible to digress from a digression? I think I just did. I’m supposed to be talking about food here, right?
Of course. And that brings me back to my pork roast that I’m going to be cooking on Friday. Oddly enough, if I can get everything uploaded and posted on Friday, it will be just in time for the Fired Up Friday post. But if not, it will be Fired Up Saturday. Or Sunday. Just depends on when I can get to it.
So here’s the plan. I’m gonna brine my roast again. I’ve got a 2.5 pound boneless boston butt roast. Another side note here: It’s not actually the “butt” region of the pig. Butchers have just named it that for some ridiculous reason. It’s actually the shoulder of the beast. But back to my point. Due to the nature of the cut of meat, it’s going to need a pretty long cooking time to ensure that all of the intramuscular fat has a chance to break down and become edible. Usually, this cut of meat becomes pulled pork, or some other type of stewed pork dish….but i’m throwing it on the rotiserrie! And if my plan goes well, it’s gonna be pretty awesome.
So it starts with the brine. A few people have asked me what specifically a brine is, so I shall explain. It’s salt water. It’s really that easy. Due to the chemical properties of salt, it can be used in this application to help a cut of meat retain moisture during cooking (mostly because a huge amount of moisture is infused into the meat during the brining process), so that it does not dry out. Typically, you would brine chicken, turkey and pork. I plan on using a very basic brine for this roast because I want the seasonings to be applied directly to the meat by way of my super rub. But my basic brine is going to look something like this:
- 3/4 of a gallon of water along with 1 cup of Kosher salt into my sauce pot to boil. I’ll probably add 1/4 cup of brown sugar just to infuse a little bit of sweetness into the meat.
- Once boilage has been attained, kill the heat and add enough ice to bring the mixture down to a cool temperature. And I don’t mean “cool” like “James Dean” cool. I mean “cool” like “you can touch it and it feels like something below average room temperature.” Basically, you don’t want to cook the meat with this mixture.
- You can either put the meat directly into the pot now, cover and refrigerate, or transfer to another holding vessel. Either way, this needs to stay in the refrigerator for a few hours….but that depends on the meat also. For my 2.5-pounder, I’m probably going to try to have mine in the fridge for at least 4 hours. If you brine some pre-cut pork chops or something, time to brine is going to be a lot less since you have a lot less mass to deal with. It is also worth noting that if you add herbs and seasonings to the boiling brine mixture, you’ll want to have it on the heat for a bit longer so that you have enough time to extract all of the flavors.
- When ready to cook, make sure to pat down the exterior of the meat and get it dry before cooking. Do not add salt prior to cooking. You will ruin your dinner and waste your money. The meat is plenty salty at this point. In my case, I will be patting down the roast and then applying my patented (I wish) pork rub. Then I will rotisserie. Probably with an ample application of mesquite smoke.
So there you go. What started out as a mis-guided post regarding my dinner on Friday has transformed into a semi-informational guide to brining. Hope it helps, and as always, I’m willing to answer any inquires that you might have regarding this process. There’s really no harm done in under-brining something, but for heaven’s sake, please don’t over-brine it either. You’ll be left with a super salty cut of meat…and I will be left with angry comments.Stay positive, love your life, and play with your food 🙂