Different Types of Pheasant Brines
ALL ABOUT BRINES
Brining is a process quite similar to marinating wherein a poultry is treated brine for hours to days before cooking. Unlike marinating which only adds flavor to the outside of the meat, brining allows the flavor to seep deep inside the meat giving it a deeper flavor.
The length of time needed to brine depends on the type and the size of meat. The primary component of brines is salt and it has two major purpose: one, is to trap in moisture and prevents meat from dehydration while cooking and two, to add flavor to the meat.
Basically, brine is just salt water however people add spices and other types of flavorings for enhanced taste. We will learn about the different styles of pheasant brines as we go through this article.
In preparing pheasants, some people prefer to refrigerate their birds for several days up to weeks to tenderize their meat. Brining addresses this concern because it allows shorter time to prepare the bird for cooking.
While it locks in the moisture inside the meat, brining kills any harmful bacteria that resides in the meat especially when you keep the meat brined in a cool environment (such as inside the refrigerator). Be sure to use a container that is nonreactive to salt solution such as glass.
The meat must be soaked completely in brine for at least 8-24 hours and is most effective under 34 degrees, therefore, you must double check the temperature of your fridge beforehand. If a refrigerator is not available, half of the water must be replaced with ice to keep the brining cooler in safe temperature limits.
After you finished brining, pat the meat dry and set it on a paper towel to absorb the excess brine. Do not in any way, attempt to rinse it. Cook the meat immediately.
BRINE RECIPE STYLES
Many people prefer a simple taste to their birds without the complications of other flavors. While a simple brine adds a salty taste, using a basic brine will lock the moisture inside the meat without altering the taste of the meat. A basic brine is made with water, salt and sugar which is optional.
Salt plays a major role in brining and different kinds of salt produces different kinds of results. Table salt contains iodide and anti-caking agents to prevent clumping which gives out a slightly clean taste. Sea salt, as the name suggests, comes from the sea, and it is unpredictable to use. The weight, saltiness, and even the size of each crystalline structures. When using it, it’s anyone’s guess of how much saltiness it can give you. The most preferred and commonly used salt is Kosher salt. Kosher salt doesn’t contain ingredients that can potentially alter the taste of food like iodine or anti-caking additives. It dissolves in water easily compared to other types of salt.
To create a basic brine, mix a cup of kosher salt to 1 gallon of water or you can alter the mixture to 2 cups of kosher salt to one gallon of water ratio. The Kosher salt will dissolve easily in water but if you prefer a faster way, mix the salt with hot water. You will need to cool down the brine before you immerse your pheasant. Refrigerate the meat as long as you prefer. Remember, the longer you brine, the more tender, moist and salty it will be.
Fruit Flavored Brines
Some cooks prefer a fruity taste in their brines. The easy way to prepare this is to mix fruit juices (preferable apple and orange juices) or the fruit itself cut into pieces (as dictated by other recipes) and soak it in the brine together with the meat.
If you prefer a sweeter taste, add brown sugar or maple syrup. Molasses is also a preferable choice. The amount of sugar depends on the recipe and other brine ingredients. You will have to check your recipe for the specific amount.
However, the pH level of the fruit or juice may alter the effectiveness of the brine so to prevent it, it is better if you add a little amount of baking soda to neutralize the pH content especially on acidic brines.
Enticing flavorings can be added to the brine which is absorbed by the meat giving it an added nuance to the finished pheasant dish. The perfect savory flavors that works well with brines are those that are water soluble. Some recipes call for fresh vegetables and popular herbs such as rosemary, thymes, bay leaves and more.
Other recipes require vegetables stock to replace half of the water in the brine for much complex taste. Juniper berries also works well with pheasant meats.
People who love spice especially those who prefer Indian cooking can add any type of spices in the brine. Some preferred spices include peppercorns, any variety of chili peppers either dried or fresh and curries. Some variations of curries contain a hint of ginger, cayenne, cinnamon and cloves. However, you must exercise caution especially if you are planning to use strong flavored spices.
There are a lot of recipes in the internet or even in cookbooks that are readily available for you to explore and experiment depending on the style of pheasant brines that you prefer. Whatever your preference in style and taste, always follow the guidelines and instructions as dictated in your recipe to avoid unnecessary taste in your pheasant dish.
If you are a free-spirited person and want to do things on your own bidding, try to experiment with other liquids in your brine. Add a little flavor here and there to make your own style of brine. However, always exercise caution in mixing ingredients in your brines. The rule is too little or too much is always not good. Remember that the purpose of preparing a pheasant feast is to enjoy the meat, not the spices itself.
An additional note, do not reuse your brines. Although some other brines can be reused as stock, pheasant brines contain a lot of bacteria from the pheasant meat. It is unsafe for consumption thus it must be discarded once the brining process is done.