Friday, October 13, 2006


So the photo above may have limited humor with folks. As with most things, I find it amusing. When I was in high school having a Brine sticker on your car was a sign of cool in the prep school circles. Consider it an early 80s version of those little white European Stickers that everyone feels they need to have on their car these days. Nothing says "I am a tool" more then an Escalade from Boston with an OBX or a ACK sticker on it. First off, I doubt you are driving your 'Slade to North Caroline every weekend and secondly unless I fell asleep in 8th grade geography you can not drive to Nantucket (yes you can take the car ferry, but work with me people).

What does this have to do with food? Very good question!

A few weeks ago I made a pork tenderloin with the apple sauce that I wrote about last week. One of the key components of the recipe was 'brining' the pork tenderloin. If you do not know about brining you can get your fill at All About Brining. The jump from a lacrosse stick to making fun of ACK and BOBX stickers is the whole poser component.

Cook's Illustrated has been my go to cooking magazine for years. While there are better 'food' magazines there is no better cooking magazine. Cook's Illustrated has been advocating brining for close to 15 years. With the advent of Food Network and Alton Brown's almost religious devotion to brining it has become vogue in some cooking circles.

When I mention that I brined the shrimp or some pork, people always ask if I saw this episode of that or did I read about it here or there. People spend more time making sure the ration is correct then making good food.

The reality is that about 14 years ago I got a little cookbook on shellfish that recommended brining shrimp. Since then all the shrimp I have gotten I have brined and they are fantastic. The transition to pork and chicken was no big deal.

The point of all of this is that with cooking, food becomes an expression of who you are. Try new stuff but if all you are is a person driving around with a sticker for a place that is thousands of miles away you are probably better off ordering take out.

This is the brine for the pork tenderloin -

3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of kosher salt
1 cup of hotwater
a bunch of ice cubes (until the hot water is cool)
a few bay leaves
apple juice

- Pour the salt and the brown sugar into a bowl and stir a bit with a fork. The hot water is added and the mixture is stirred until dissolved.
- Add ice cubes until the hot water has cooled. This is probably the most important part of any brine, as the hot water will start to cook your food if you do not cool it.
Add the bay leaves
- Place the cut of pork into the brine
- Add apple juice to cover
-Place Saran wrap or the lid on the container and place into the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, I usually do about 20 hours, I make the brine prior to bed and then we cook the meal around dinner time.

Since space is limited at our house we do not have a special brine container or bucket for it. The most recent copy of Cook's Illustrated mentions brining in a XXL Ziplock but I have not tried it. Basically, I take the largest bowl I can find and there we go.

From pork chops to pork tenderloin we get rave reviews at our house. I suspect it is due to two things ; 1) the brine and 2) not over cooking the pork.

The next post will cover the actual tenderloin. What are your thoughts on brining and what has been successful for you?


wheresmymind said...

Damn...does that mean it's time for me to take down my LAX sticker now?? lol

B said...

I have to admit that I alsohad a body glove sticker on the car as well