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Brining Mythology?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey guys,

I am doing some turkey legs tomorrow and just got through brining em for six hours in some slaughterhouse brine. I've only brined once before so now I'm curious: if I brine poultry, do I still need to give it a rub and honestly guys, of all those seasonings I put in my brine, the only one I tasted after the fact was salt.

Can you guys really taste your seasonings deep down in the meat when you brine? And if so, then why bother rubbing afterwards...why not just put your rub ingredients in the brine and let it get deep down?

post #2 of 12


You say slaughterhouse brine im guessing what you have is meat cure. It will give you poultry that tastes like ham and it will be pink like ham. We cured lots of turkeys at Christmas and thanksgiving then smoked them.
post #3 of 12
I've not tried slaughterhouse brine but I like adding lots of garlic and red pepper flakes in my poultry brine.
You can add anything you like to a basic salt/water mixture. Add your favorites. :)
post #4 of 12
I'd do some with rub and some without rub.
post #5 of 12
Slaughterhouse brine is just that, a brine, not a cure. The tastes are there, just very subtle. It contains less salt then most brines do, cause some of us really have ta watch that.

I do brine an rub. It's kinda a system. Ya sure welcome ta change up the brine ta anythin that suits ya. I sell alot a smoked chicken an folks really like it an keep comin back fer more.

Now, I do smoke my chicken with maple wood, which is lighter then say hickory er mesquite. The heavier woods will tend ta cover up some a yer flavors, nothin wrong with that, I actually prefer hickory, but, ya gotta please the customer too. Apple er other fruit woods would be great to.

Rub will not penetrate in ta the bird like a brine will, one a the reasons fer usin the brine, rub will give the outer layers a bit more flavor, ya have ta be carefull with injection cause thins can get strong in a hurry, but certainly is another option yall can try.
post #6 of 12
I have been finding the same thing. It's one of those things you have to experiment with until you get the flavor you want. Last weekend I brined some leg quarters the size of turkey legs. they were huge. Some I just sprinkled with some cajun seasoning and the other I rubbed with a sugar paprika base meat rub. You get a mix of flavor when it hits the table if you spice the outside. I tried two other brines and methods this weekend with no outside seasonings, and again like your experiance most of what I could taste in the meat was the salt and any other flavors were covered by the smoke. Like our cajun brother here said, the wood from the smoke can cover up a lot of what you put on or in. The fun is in the experiment in finding out the combination of brine, spices, woods, and methods.
post #7 of 12
Must be another lost post here... here's a post I made on the differences

Curing Vs. Brining
It seems much confusion and mis-information about these two processes abounds- I shall here endeavor to clear this up- for both discussion and saftey purposes.

A brine is NOT necessarily a cure. It CAN be, but it typically means just a salt/sugar/spice mix used to season and "jucify" meats.

A CURE is a process whereby the meat undergoes certain chemical changes beyond a mere salt osmosis brining. Additional chemicals in a cure allow the meat to be stored for extended periods at room temperatures.

Notice in the second article--- all you 'Salt only" jerky folks...that nitrates WERE typically in salts in ancient times..thereby making the process a valid "cure".

Below are excerpts from the reference lit I have given links for. I suggest that anyone curing and/or brining set aside a few min. and check it out.

The brining process: Excerpts from "Cooking for Engineers" site:


What does brining do?
Brining is the soaking of meat in a solution of water and salt. Additional flavorings like sugar and spices can also me added, but salt is what makes a brine a brine (just like acid makes a marinade a marinade). This soaking causes the meat to gain some saltiness and flavoring while plumping it up with water so that after cooking it still contains a lot of juices.

Now for curing...Excerpts from an Oklahoma State's meat dep't. publication:


The salting and smoking of meat was an ancient practice even before the birth of Christ. These early processed meat products were prepared for one purpose, their preservation for use at some future time. Salt was used at concentrations high enough to preserve the meat. Preservation by smoking is believed to have been developed inadequately by the primitive tribes. The American Indians preserved meat prior to settlement by Europeans by hanging it in the top of a teepee to maximize contact with campfire smoke.

The origin of the use of nitrite is lost in history. Salt containing nitrates was used in Homer’s time (850 B.C.) to preserve meat. Nitrate was present originally as a natural impurity in the salts used in curing but, unknown to the users, was a key ingredient in the curing process. The Romans, who learned the art of curing meat with salt from the Greeks, were the first to note the reddening effect now attributed to nitrite. Although the role of nitrites in cured meat was not really understood until early in the 20th century, it is clear that for thousands of years nitrite has played an important role in meat curing.

Nitrates and nitrites, either potassium or a sodium salt, are used to develop cured meat color. They impart a bright reddish, pink color, which is desirable in a cured product. In addition to the color role, nitrates and nitrites have a pronounced effect on flavor. Without them a cured ham would be simply a salty pork roast. They further affect flavor by acting as powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that prevent the development of oxidative rancidity, which would reduce the keeping quality. Sodium nitrites also prevent the growth of a food poisoning microorganism known as Clostridium botulism,
the bacteria that causes botulism.

Nitrates and nitrites must be used with caution during curing. They are toxic when used in large amounts. The Federal and State Meat Inspection regulations limit the amount that can be used in curing. It is important that exact amounts are used and the curing mixture is thoroughly mixed. The use level of sodium nitrate or potassium nitrate (saltpeter) is 3 1/2 oz. per 100 pounds meat for dry cure or 7 pounds nitrate per 100 gallons pickle (liquid cure) at 10percent pump level. The use of sodium or potassium nitrite is limited to 1 oz. per 100 pounds meat for dry cure, or 2 pounds per 100 gallons pickle (liquid cure) at 10percent pump level. Nitrites combined with nitrates should not be greater than 156 ppm ingoing into hams or 120 ppm ingoing into bellies.
post #8 of 12
It would seem that when brining the water solution is pulled into the meat. Any flavorings need to have flavored the water for them to be of any use. I also find many additives do not transcend to the final product so most of my brining is just salt and maybe sugar. For flavor an added rub will make a big difference. I would typically not use much if any salt in the rub.
post #9 of 12
I would recommend using a rub after brining. And yes, you will mostly taste salt after using a brine. I have tried using large amounts of flavorings in brines without too much difference in the final taste. The rub will add flavor that you can taste. This has been my experience with brines and birds.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the great replies guys. I tend to agree with Richoso1, that brining is mostly for juiciness and you're most likely just going to taste salt. Just like in beer can chicken, I never taste any beer, regardless of what type I use. I think I will start making brines with sugar/salt only and use rubs to impart any desired taste. It's just a shame to see so many brine recipes out there, when none of them really seem to make any difference on the final taste of the product (other than saltiness).

And also, thanks for clearing up the difference between brining and curing. That helped alot.
post #11 of 12
Are you heatin yer brine mixture up an then lettin it cool before yall use it? That makes a big difference as well, lets them seasonins dissove inta a solution better.
post #12 of 12
One of the tastiest smokes I ever did with turkey legs I brined them in a basic brine with some mashed up garlic cloves, heated and cooled. After brining I threw a bunch of rough chopped garlic and some lightly cracked peppercorns. My though was that as the steam came out of the water it brought along the garlic and peppers, well it sure did. MNot so much on the pepper but the garlic came through, not as strong as I would have liked (I love garlic) but it was still delicious.
You could also try adding some garlic juice to your brine, I haven't tried that yet because I never thought about it but now that I did I'm gonna pick some up and see how well it works.
Shame I can't smoke for at least 3 days, rain rain go away...
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