Save Time On Brining Meats With A Quick Boil

Experienced cooks know that brining is an effective way to enhance the flavor of foods, while simultaneously reducing the risk of them drying out during cooking. (We're looking at you, Thanksgiving turkey!) The problem is that, while wet brining is always a good idea for more succulent meat and poultry, it adds a significant amount of time to your meal prep — after several hours of brining, you've still got to cook those pork chops. Luckily, there's a more efficient method available and it's called a brine boil.

Brine boiling is pretty self-explanatory: The preferred cut is boiled in brine until nearly cooked through. This process extravagantly reduces the cooking time of potentially tough meats like beef short ribs because the normal high-heat cooking process is only used to finish the meat and add a flavorful crust. There's only a little bit of a trick to brine boiling, and it mainly involves tailoring the length of the process to which cut of meat you're using.

Brine boiling 101

A good wet brine consists of little more than salt and water — although sugar and aromatic additions like crushed garlic and herbs are never out of place. Normally, you would bring this combination of ingredients to a boil long enough to dissolve the salt and sugar, then immerse your meat in the brine for several hours (or overnight) in the fridge. Try brine boiling instead: It provides all the benefits without introducing any pitfalls.

You'll make your brine the same way — bring several quarts of water to a boil and add salt, sugar, and whatever other ingredients like garlic, rosemary, and bay leaves will enhance the flavor. Once the salt and sugar are dissolved, add your preferred cut, and don't touch the heat. The goal is to cook the meat through — about 20 minutes for drumsticks, a half hour for pork ribs, and 40 minutes for short ribs. Drain and dry the meat, then finish it off on the grill or in a hot skillet, a 10-minute process at most. Your dinner will be fall-off-the-bone tender, wonderfully flavored, and cooked in pretty short order. What's not to like?