Brine or not to Brine: the answer is … YES

Greetings Carnivores,

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago called Brisket 101 for my buddy Steve and, he has since asked another question: To brine or not to brine a Brisket?

And, last week I wrote something I called The Grim Reaper tour 2016 and, the best Turkey you’ll ever cook where I mentioned the simple “Brine” I used to infuse flavour into my Turkey. My friend Gwennie asked me to elaborate on that one as well.

Well Steveo and Gwennie, two birds with one stone … here you go   🙂

When you introduce Beef, Pork, Poultry … anything really to a brine, something magical happens and it’s mainly boring old food science (Google it here) but, in essence the salt helps to prevent moisture loss. Moisture loss is inevitable during the cooking process so, if we can do something to slow that down … Hellllooooooooo brine.  🙂 🙂

I’m going to deal with Steve first and address the Brisket question.

When putting  anything in a Brine, not only are you adding flavour but you are essentially “Curing” it as well, and in the case of a fresh Beef Brisket, the end result (depending on the spices you use) is either Corned beef or Pastrami. Now, … before I have every Deli from coast to coast yelling at me, … there are many differences between the two but, it all starts with the BRINE.

Corned beef generally comes from the Brisket portion of the carcass, while Pastrami can come from the Brisket, Navel (Brisket Plate) or even the Outside Round.

The Brine I use for making both is basic and as follows:


Use these measurements to double or triple the recipe.

*Basic ratio: 1 Cup of water per 1 Tbs salt*


8 Cups of cold water

8 Tbs kosher salt (you “may” want to adjust the salt more or less to suit your own taste)

3/4 cup  Brown Sugar

1 level tsp per 5 lbs meat, Prague Powder #1

2 Cinnamon sticks

2 Tbs Whole Mustard seeds

2 Tbs whole Black Pepper corns

15 Juniper Berries

1 Tbs Ginger powder

15 Whole cloves

15 Whole Allspice Berries

5 Large Bay Leaves

4-5 Whole Garlic Cloves

Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil making sure all the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and shock with 2 lbs of ice.

When the Brine is COMPLETELY cooled, pour over the Brisket and refrigerate for up to 14 days.


I like to use 2 LARGE zip-lock bags (doubled) to make sure the meat is completely submerged and no leaks. 

Rinse, then to cook the cured Corned Beef, I chop the Holy Trinity of celery, carrots and onions and layer them on the bottom of a roasting pan to act as a rack for your Brisket to sit on top of. Next, you need moisture and water is a natural but, why stop there? I use chicken stock for added flavour or, even apple juice. Go ahead and experiment.  🙂

Fill pan half way and cook, covered for 3-4 hours at 300 degrees.

Now for Pastrami, it’s important to desalinate the meat before proceeding by soaking it in a pot of fresh clean water for at least 8 hours prior to rubbing and smoking, otherwise you’ll be drinking gallons of water after your meal.

The rub I use is pretty generic and goes something like this (you can change it around to suit you own tastes) and, depending on how large your piece of meat is, you’ll want to double or even triple the measurements:

4-6 heaping Tbs course ground black pepper

2 (ish) Tbs ground Coriander

1 tsp (each) Brown sugar, Dry mustard

2 tsp (each) Onion and Garlic powder

*you can leave any of these out EXCEPT the pepper and coriander*

Combine all the dry ingredients and rub liberally all over the meat and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Smoke indirectly at 225-230 degrees until the meat reaches what the BBQ gods refer to as the “stall” (150 degrees) then, finish by steaming it gently (covered) for 3 hours being careful not to let the pot boil dry.

There you go Steveo … let me know how you make out buddy.  🙂 🙂

Now Gwennie … my basic brine for poultry is as follows: (and the spices change regularly, depending on what I’m wearing)  🙂 🙂


8 Cups of cold water

8 Tbs Kosher salt

2/3 Cup Brown sugar

3/4 Cup Soy sauce

1/4 Cup Olive oil

1 Tbs Black pepper corns

2 Tbs Rosemary (fresh is best)

2 Whole oranges (halved)

2-3 Bay leaves

Combine everything in a large pot and bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar, remove from heat and shock with 2 pounds of ice.

When the brine is COMPLETELY cooled, submerge the bird and cover, refrigerated for at LEAST 24 hours or longer. If you don’t have anything large enough to completely submerge the bird, try using two oven roasting bags (doubled) and tie the bags off securely then place in a pan in case of leaks and refrigerate.

To cook, rinse thoroughly, stuff the cavity with oranges, onions, fresh thyme … whatever you like and cook, low and slow referring to this post: Carnivore Confidential

There you go Steve and Gwennie … please enjoy, like and comment … 🙂 🙂

Oh and, by the way … Gwennie, you can share this post with your peeps by following my Blog … otherwise, just scroll down to the “share” area below and “click” on the “email” button … that’ll take you to an email page and … share away!!  🙂 🙂

That’s it for today Carnivores but please, stay tuned and … please click “follow” on this page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new. And, … no need to worry about being bombarded with junk … WordPress is VERY responsible.  🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook