Why? It makes the meat soggy. It ruins the texture and tone of a properly-raised, wicked expensive piece of swine or fowl. Screw f*ing Cook’s Illustrated and all the gastroporn publishing industry.
“But BLC! (Damn, what did she say her name was again?) How else will we ensure that our flesh of the animals will be tasty, that our victory over the food chain will be savory?”
Ladies and gentlemen (there’s at least 3 of you fellas out there that I know of, besides my husband), I introduce to you… Judy Rodgers, and The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. In this wise and wonderful book, this statement of the local, organic, real yet gourmet food aesthetic, Ms. Rodgers sets forth the technique of pre-salting the meat, from 2 hours to 24 before the actual cooking part. You mix in whatever other herbs and spices you’re going to use, rub it all over your dead beast, and then… wait. Right before cooking, you brush off the extra salt and herbs, and then cook away.
No mushiness! No wateriness! And… wait for it… drumroll, please… DRIPPINGS! And drippings means pan sauces, and gravy, and other delectable stuff to put on potatoes (or gnocchi, or rice, or noodles, but I am Irish and we are a potato house). Because friends, the problem with brining aside from the mushy texture is this– there are no drippings, because the meat sheds all sorts of salty water in the cooking process, rendering said drippings too watery to caramelise properly and too salty to be edible, if you try to boil them down. With Ms. Rodgers’ pre-salting technique, your poultry and pig are flavorful and gravy-licious, while still preserving all the tasty texture created during their free-ranging days. Good food is too precious to ruin with bad techniques.
Salt, used properly, is your friend. And it is definitely the friend of your meat– they want to do a little dance of deliciousness together on your tongue.
And also? It’s MEAT, not a marshmallow. It’s supposed to require some chewing.
(Prompted by the 9 millionth food blog I read today that was all “Oooh, I just discovered brining, and I can cut my pork chop with a spoon!” Gah!)
P.S. I follow Ms. Rodgers’ proportions religiously, so I don’t want to be accused of violating copyright by reproducing them here, much less be accused of trying to make money or something, when all I am trying to do is preach the Gospel of Judy. However, I will be glad to email you the proportions I use for whole chicken and pork roasts and my approximated proportions for chops and cuts if you’d like.
P.P.S.– I should also clarify, for those who might question my prior brining technique, that when it comes to biochemistry stuff like brining, I always follow the “experts'” recommendations– or at least what’s printed in the recipes as to temperature, proportions, storage, etc. So yes, a brined turkey is better than an unbrined turkey. But… a presalted turkey is ever so much better, in taste, in texture, and in gravy/dripping production.