The first time I ever heard about brining was when my grandma (Dad's mom) took me into her kitchen to teach me how to fry chicken. She filled a bowl with ice cold water and dumped in a handful of salt. Then she told me how when you butcher a chicken it is important to soak the cut up pieces in salt water to draw the extra blood out.
What people quickly learned is that your chicken tastes much better after being brined. The salt flavor is inside the meat, and the meat cooks up tender and moist. Now days I brine chicken and lean cuts of pork on a regular basis.
Brines can be like Grandma's salt and water only mixture or can be a complex mix of flavors. There are many family secret brines out there passed down from one generation to the next.
Sunday I decided to fry some pork chops, but they were frozen hard. The best way I've found to quickly defrost meat, without losing quality, is in a cold water bath. So why not defrost them in a cold water brine?
Deciding to go with asian flavors I mixed up this brine:
4 cups cold water
1/2 cup soy sauce (not low sodium)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 pieces of star anise
1 teaspoon of dried lemon grass pieces
After a couple hours of soaking in the brine the pork chops were completely defrosted, but quite cold. I breaded them with a flour, salt, pepper mixture and fried until done in canola oil.
The chops were tasty and moist with a hint of Asia in the background. Served with a simple scalloped potato casserole they made a hearty Sunday supper. Enjoy!