Dry curing is the best way to improve the quality of cooked meat. By only using salt we can lock in moisture and flavor in your meat recipes. Learn how to improve your turkey, steak, chicken and pork cuts with our dry salt guide.
No matter what your favorite meat is, you want it to be cooked to perfection. Brined beef jerky is a surefire way to get tender, flavorful and juicy meat that everyone praises.
Here we describe how brining works and give you everything YOU need to know about brining the meat of your choice.
What is dry brine?
In its simplest terms, dry pickled meat means that the meat IS salted and left to rest for a while before cooking. This cooking method allows for tender, flavorful, and juicy meat no matter how you cook it.
You may be more familiar with wet salting, where meat IS left to rest in a liquid solution of water and salt before cooking. Wet curing uses the power of osmosis to flood raw meat with salt water to keep it juicy as it cooks.
Meat dries out because its muscle fibers tighten and contract when heated, causing water to be lost. Salt has the miraculous effect of breaking open and closing the muscle fibers of meat, allowing them to absorb and retain moisture. Lean meats like turkey, chicken, and ham are especially prone to dehydration because they have a higher muscle-to-fat ratio than red meat.
Salt is also an important seasoning ingredient that brings out the authentic flavor of any food. Water, on the other hand, dilutes the taste. Included, the wet brine might hydrate the meat but affect its flavor when cooked.
Dry salting enthusiasts see the method as a superior, hassle-free, and foolproof way to reap the benefits of osmosis and diffusion without sacrificing flavor. Osmosis and diffusion are processes that aim to distribute a solution(salt and water) evenly throughout an organism, or in this case a piece of meat.
What makes dry salting different from wet salting is that instead of using a solution of water and salt, dry salting only uses salt and the meat’s own moisture to create a solution. Salting the meat simultaneously breaks down the muscle fibers and draws all of the moisture in the meat to the surface, creating a gel-like solution. While the meat sits in the salt, diffusion draws the salt and moisture back into the meat to evenly distribute the gel solution.
The result is a moist, tender cut of meat with improved flavor.
What are the benefits of dry brine?
Dry pickled meat has many advantages that demonstrate its superiority over wet salting to ensure you get a juicy, flavorful cut of meat for any culinary task. Here we will examine the main benefits in more detail.
Salt is the flavor enhancer for any dish, so you can think of dry brine as the best flavor enhancer for your meat. Because dry curing uses only the meat’s natural moisture, there is no risk of water diluting the flavor like it would with wet curing.
You don’t have to worry about mushy meat, nor do you have to prepare a tasty sauce to make up for the loss of flavor. Dry salted beef is a game changer of flavors.
Space-saving, hassle-free cooking method
Cured beef jerky takes up very little space since you only need salt and a baking sheet, while with wet curing YOU need plenty of counter and fridge space to accommodate a large, heavy container.
Dry closed brining is a clean and hassle-free method of meat preparation because the salt adheres well and the moisture is inherent. There are no special skills for putting salt on meat, so it’s safe to say that dry curing is foolproof. It’s to be expected, too, since YOU only need salt and a baking sheet.
With wet curing, not only do you need more equipment to hold all of the liquid and your meat, but you also have to lug a heavy container full of liquid around your kitchen, likely causing spills or back pain. You don’t have to worry about spills and copious amounts of sauce contaminating surrounding items in the fridge or on the counter with dry brine.
There’s nothing quite as delicious as crispy skin that opens like a treat to reveal its tender, juicy interior. Brined beef jerky showcases that depth of texture perfectly. Whether you want crispy turkey or chicken skin, or a nice crust on your pork tenderloin or roast, dry salting achieves it through that diffusion process we keep talking about.
When the moisture that has been collected around the salt on the outside of the meat returns to the center, the outside surface remains dry for cooking. Therefore, browning and crispiness occur naturally and efficiently in a dry outer layer of meat.
Perhaps the most unexpected benefit of cured beef jerky, and perhaps the reason for its creation, is that it retains moisture. As mentioned, salting breaks down muscle fibers, which is key to retaining moisture and making sure it doesn’t escape during the cooking process.
Regardless of the size or type of meat in your dry brine, the results will always be tender and juicy on the inside, with a firmer outer layer that seals everything in.
What types of meat can be dried in brine?
Besides ground beef, you can brine any type of red meat, poultry, fish fillets, or even vegetables(think sauerkraut). This meat list really from the dry transport.
Steak and other smaller cuts of meat thrive in dry brine. It doesn’t take much time to dry a brine pickled steak. For best results, SHE can let the steak rest at room temperature for 45 minutes before cooking.
Turkey is perhaps the most popular meat for dry-curing because it’s also the most prone to dehydration, and since most of us only eat turkey once or twice a year around the holidays, we want it to be perfect and juicy. . skin on the first try.
Smoking a turkey takes much longer, with an optimal refrigeration time of 3 full days. We also recommend combining salt and baking soda for the brine layer to ensure good crispiness.
Chicken has the same dry brine requirements as turkey. A rest period of 3 days is optimal to ensure that the muscle fibers are nice and loose and retain fluid. Poultry more likely to dehydrate than engaging meat.
Pork tenderloin and other larger, fatter cuts of meat are great candidates for dry brining because you want juicy cores with crispy, golden edges. We recommend leaving the pork loin in the fridge for at least 24 hours after curing.
Cooking fish to perfection without drying it out is a difficult task that YOU can sabotage in seconds. Dried fish in brine protects against the dangers of overcooking these delicate pieces. It also helps firm them up so they don’t fall apart as they cook or transfer from the pan to the plate.
For fish fillets, you should use a salt and sugar mixture to dry the pickled fish, and just like the steak, it only needs to rest in the fridge for 45 minutes before cooking.
How to dry meat in brine
What kind of salt do you use?
YOU should always use kosher salt as it is coarser and of higher quality than table salt. The finer salt builds up and creates an uneven layer. Kosher salt has larger grains that are evenly distributed throughout the meat. Also, regular salt is less salty than table salt due to the size of the salt grains. If you don’t have kosher salt, you must be very careful not to oversalt the meat as it will end up tasting too salty if you overdo it.
How is cured meat dried?
Beef jerky in brine is a simple process. Start salting your meat by taking generous pinches of kosher salt and sprinkling it over the entire outer surface of your meat. Be sure to salt all sides of the meat. For good measure, use 1 tablespoon of salt for every 5 pounds of meat.
Then place your salted meat on a baking sheet or metal rack. Some people place the meat in large resealable plastic bags before placing it on a baking sheet, but experts recommend letting the meat rest uncovered.
Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for as long as your particular cut of meat requires, which can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 days. You’ll know when your meat is ready to roast when it feels dry.
How long should the brine be dried?
This varies from meat to meat. We break it down for you in this list:
- Chicken and turkey – 12 hours minimum, 3 days maximum
- Roasts, pork loin and large pieces of red meat: a minimum of 12 hours and a maximum of 3 days
- Steak, chops, small pieces: minimum 45 minutes. maximum 24 hours
- Fish fillets – minimum 45 minutes, maximum 90 minutes
Where should meat be stored during curing?
You should keep meat in the fridge unless it’s small cuts like steaks, which you can salt at room temperature for 45 minutes only if you plan to cook them immediately afterwards.
Why not flush?
You shouldn’t rinse the meat after the dry brine, as it will ruin the meat’s chances of browning and crisping. Basting dry-pickled meat with water before cooking results in a soft, moist outer shell, a common complaint about wet curing.