My sister-in-law and I share a serious love of cooking, so her gifts are always spot on. For my birthday she sent me something really unique, called “The Briner.” It’s a large, plastic container designed for brining meat.
As you can see in the below right photo, there is an inside “lid” that holds meat down inside the container and keeps it submerged in the brine. It’s ingenious!
To quote from The Briner website, this patented product “resolves the #1 challenge to successful brining – floating food! Simple design, easy to use, easy to clean, works great.”
Previously, I’d used my largest, deepest pot for brining, and had to stack heavy plates on top of the meat in order to keep it from floating, especially the few times I brined a whole turkey or chicken.
Not being an expert briner, I looked to Paul from That Other Cooking Blog, who is obviously a proponent of brining. I’ve followed Paul for years now; his blog is also a great resource for sous vide cooking. Plus, his professional photography is featured in a cookbook entitled, “The Essential Sous Vide,” published in 2016.
Isn’t that one gorgeous photo on the cover??!!
So I asked Paul some basic brining questions. In a nutshell, here’s what he said.
“Everything is brinable.”
Paul said a lot more than that – he’s quite generous with his knowledge, but that’s the gist of what he said. And I guess, why not?!!
He also brines and then uses his sous vide. That almost hurt my brain to think of how exceptional protein could turn out with everything going for it!
And again, why not?!! So I decided to brine with The Briner, and sous vide a pork loin chunk.
Those of you who don’t own a sous vide machine, I highly recommend you look into one.
This is the model I own. (above) It’s half the size as the commercial sous vide, less expensive, and perfect for a small family.
To me, it’s an essential appliance, especially for tough cuts – brisket, flank and hanger steaks – and easy-to-overcook cuts, like pork and chicken.
Here’s what I did for the brine.
1 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
8 cups water
1 1/2 pound pork loin
2 oranges, quartered
1 onion, quartered
A few smashed garlic cloves
Some crushed juniper berries
Using a large pot, combine the salt and sugar with the water and heat until dissolved. Set aside the pot to let the mixture cool.
Place the pork loin in The Briner, or a large pot. Pour cooled brine over the top.
Add the remaining ingredients, squeezing the orange pieces a bit into the brine.
If the meat is not covered by the brine, add some more cold water.
Then add the lids to The Briner, place in a cool place like a cold garage or refrigerator for 24 – 48 hours.
After brining, rinse the pork, and dry off well.
Vacuum seal the loin and keep chilled until the sous vide is ready. You can season the pork, add more herbs, and even add butter to the pork before sealing, but I did not.
Preheat the sous vide to 135 degrees. The pork will be done after 12 hours. Plan according to whether you will be removing the pork and immediately browning it and serving it, or if you plan to refrigerate it overnight first.
Here’s what it looks like after the sous vide process.
Brown the pork in a little oil, seasoned with a good garlic pepper or seasoning of your choice. You can brown the whole chunk of loin, but I decided to slice it into serving pieces first.
Honesly, the pork is ready to eat after the sous vide’ing, but most people are put off by pink pork!
I served the pork with a creamed spinach.
Then I tasted the pork. Oh my.
I tasted the brine ingredients!
I could taste the onion and orange, specifically. The depth of flavor was tremendous.
And, of course, the pork was super tender from the sous vide process.
So young Paul was right. Why not take advantage of all the tools and tricks we have to create the best food possible!