I like getting creative with brines – it’s the first step in adding flavor to your meat. So I add herbs, spices, sweetness, other liquids…whatever I feel like that day. Here is a list of liquids I add on a regular basis:
Apple Juice, Orange Juice, Cider, Coke, Sprite, Beer, Worcester, Wine, Chicken Stock, Beef Stock, Italian Dressing.
Again, it just depends on what flavor I’m going for that day. The last time I did chicken thighs my brine was:
1/2 gallon water
1/2 gallon mix of applejuice, coke, sprite, white wine.
1 cup kosher salt
1 tbs pepper
sprig of fresh thyme and rosemary
(reduce quantities based on amount of meat)
My brine for turkey’s last Thanksgiving was:
3/4 gallon water
1/8 gallon apple juice
1 can sprite
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbs pepper corns
sprig fresh thyme and sage
Again, it just depends on what flavors you want to penetrate. I’ve used hot sauce in brine and it makes for a delicious Cajun chicken.
Here is a list of herbs, spices and sweets I tend to add:
Brown sugar, white sugar, Honey, pepper, thyme, rosemary, garlic, onion, cinnamon, and rub.
How much of these dry ingredients? As a general rule, no more than a tablespoon of any one herb. Remember, the flavor really will penetrate the meat during this process, so the more you add, the more the meat will take on that particular flavor.
One note: Be careful not to over salt your meat after brining. That would be doubling up on the salt and may be overload. And always remember to rinse the meat thoroughly after brining, before cooking.
Have fun with it! Throughout the site you will see specific brining recipes for specific meats, but if you start with water, salt, some type of sweet and maybe a bit of pepper or another spice – you’re in good shape.