A food stylist friend of mine once told me the super top secret recipe to a very popular chain restaurants chicken sandwich… She said the secret to their chicken’s extra tender and juicy flavor is because they brine the chicken breast in dill pickle juice before breading and cooking.
Pickle Juice? I thought… how strange, yet that salty sour flavor makes perfect sense. I finally tried this pickly-brine technique the other night when I found pork chops on sale at the market, and I tell you- from here on out I’m not sure I will be able to ever eat and un-brined piece of meat again.
You can make a brine out of all sorts of flavors. In some cases sugar and spices can also me added, but salt is what makes a brine a brine (just like acid makes a marinade a marinade). Brining 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.
The science behind a salty brine is what makes the tart contents of your leftover dill pickles the perfect ready-made brine for all purpose uses. It’s a easy, no-fuss way to kick up your boring old chicken or pork recipe. The next time I brave a trip to Sam’s I think I might have to pick up one of those giant economy size pickle jars- just so I can always have a little pickle juice reserved on hand for brining. My favorite tart dill pickle brand is Vlasic or Del Dixi.
Brine Technique Recipe
Take your raw protein of choice (Chicken or Pork)
Place it in a bowl and cover with pickle juice.
Cover bowl and let it soak for about 1 hr- 1 1/2 hrs
When ready to cook, pour out the brine, pat your meat dry and cook as desired.
I breaded and fired my pork chops by dredging in flour first, then a dip in buttermilk (regular milk is fine too), then dredging in Italian seasoned bread crumbs.
Then off to pan-fry in the skillet with a little vegetable oil. Just a few minutes on each side depending on thickness.