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Hickory Smoke Brine Formula

Want to make your next barbecue a huge success? Here is a simple formula you can use to do just that. You will have your dinner guests complimenting you on the wonderful hickory taste of your meal and it is sooo easy to do ... (did I mention that we love 'pure and simple' ways to prepare foods?)

Brine Formula: (for beef, pork or chicken)

  • distilled water, tepid
  • sea salt, (or salt without iodine)
  • 1 lb. dark brown sugar
  • 4 oz. Colgin liquid smoke, (natural hickory)
  • 1 fresh uncooked egg, in shell 

You will want to combine all of the above ingredients in a non-reactive vessel (glass, plastic, porcelain or stainless steel). I've used the bottom pan of my refrigerator for this from time-to-time and it works well.

In whatever soaking vessel you choose, you will add your meats and enough water to cover it by a couple inches.

Next, remove the meat and set aside a few minutes until you have found out how much salt to add to the brining solution.

You do this by testing it with an uncooked egg. After stirring and dissolving enough salt into the tepid water the raw egg will float to the top. When that happens, remove the egg and put it back in its carton (its job is done), and dissolve the sugar and liquid smoke into solution and re-immerse the meats.

Remember, the longer you let meat soak in the brine solution, the saltier and more smoke-flavored it will become. My aqua-smoke formula, (that's what I like to call it),  was used recently to pre-flavor 2 hind-quarters of a feral hog which I slow roasted in an outdoor cooker. I soaked the meat (around 25 lbs.) for about 24 hours to get the required flavor and it came out great.

Be careful not to over do it by soaking the meats (especially chicken) for too long and with too much salt because you can ruin it. The first time I brined 10 lbs. of chicken quarters over night it turned out to be too salty and smoky and had to be tossed.

So,  use your own good judgment when it comes to brining your meats. The above formula will produce a taste similar to a smoked store-bought ham - without all the fuss.

Here is a guide which you can personally tweak to suit your own taste:

  • 5 - 10 1bs. of chicken quarters -  soak 1 hour
  • 5+  lbs. beef  -  soak overnight in the refrigerator
  • 5+  lbs. pork  -  soak 6 - 12 hours or more in the refrigerator

After removing the meat from the brine solution lightly rinse your cuts with regular tap water and pat dry with paper towels before placing them on the barbecue grill. You can proceed grilling your meat in the usual fashion knowing that you are going to enjoy a savory hickory-smoked meal when you are finished (saves you money on buying expensive and special charcoal, too).

Reminder: The number one rule for chicken is less salt and less soaking time. The flesh of chicken is less dense and more stringy (my words) than the flesh of beef or pork and is able to absorb the solution more quickly. Nothing is more embarrassing than having to tell your guests that you screwed-up their meal, right? (I humbly speak from personal experience.)

Enjoy! ... Couchon! Lache pas la pomme! ... Ahheee!

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1 comment:

  1. Just a few comments:
    When I first tried to access this post by clicking the list to the left, the link was broken and it said it couldn't be found-nothing named 'brine formula'; I got to it by searching in the bar for hickory smoked brine.

    Checking the brine solution strength with an egg is well known; nowadays, with people's clamoring for free-range or organic eggs, some may not be washed, so wash that egg off before checking your brine.

    You could dissolve the sugar first, but this will slightly reduce the amount of salt required for the solution to float the egg. I prefer your way, with just a salt and water brine to float the egg.

    Distilled water can be expensive. If you have good tap water (not a lot of iron, or calcium carbonate, aka really 'hard' water), you can boil a bunch of water to drive off chlorine and dissolved air in the water and let it cool to use in your brine. Bring it to a hard, rolling boil for 5 or 10 minutes. It'll taste 'flat' afterwards because there's no air dissolved in it, but it works, and is less expensive than buying distilled.

    Great site, I'm wading through everything I can of it. - Phil


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