What Meats Should You Not Brine? Can All Meats Be Brined?

If you are someone who will find any excuse to fire up the grill, look no further. After having some less than satisfactory attempts at brining anything I could lay my hands on, here are some pointers around what types of meat you should not brine.

What Meats Should You Not Brine?

Not all meat is suitable for brining. Soft fatty cuts of meat will turn to mush when brined. Lamb, prime beef, and processed meats are not great for brining. The best meats to brine are lean, firm cuts, like pork loin or turkey. White fleshed fish and shrimp are both well suited for brining.

what meats should you not brine

Let’s find out if all types of meat can be brined for the barbeque. First, we’ll look at specific types of meat that are unsuitable for brining and more suitable options available to us. Then, find out the difference between marinating and wet and dry brining by reading further.

Can All Meats Be Brined?

To brine or not to brine, ’tis the question. If you have ever overcooked a lean type of meat like turkey or chicken, I’m sure you’ve realized that lean meat can very quickly go from juicy and tender to dry. 

Adding moisture to your lean cuts will prevent them from drying out while barbequing. The addition of acid in the brine will also help to tenderize your meat. This process is called brining.

To brine fatty cuts of meat such as lamb is impractical, as the meat already contains considerable amounts of fat and moisture. In addition, because the meat has a high-fat content, it is already quite tender. Therefore, you break down the protein structure by further tenderizing a fatty cut of meat. 

Brining a fatty cut of meat will likely leave you with a filthy pellet grill that can be challenging to clean. 

The best type of meat to brine for backyard barbeques are always leaner cuts. 

The Least Popular Type Of Meat To Brine Is Lamb

The worst type of meat for brining is a fatty cut of meat. Of the types of meat readily available in local butcheries, lamb is probably the fattiest and therefore the least suited for brining. 

The fat in lamb is what gives lamb its distinct flavor. Lamb is a lovely type of meat for other types of barbequing, but not for brining. 

Some sturdier forequarter cuts of mutton could possibly be considered, but avoid sheep altogether as a rule of thumb. 

Prime Cuts of Beef Are Not Suited For Brining

Beef is also considered fatty meat. That’s why steaks and burgers are so delicious and flavorful. Though beef is a popular and versatile type of meat, the more luxurious cuts of beef are not suitable for brining.

Some beef roasts and forequarter cuts tend to be dryer. A brine of your choice, such as a pickle juice, can be beneficial for the longer cooking time needed for these cuts. An oilier marinade will do the trick just fine.

Only brine sturdy forequarter cuts of beef. As an added benefit, these cuts tend to be more economical. Don’t be intimidated by the perceived difficulties around preparing tougher cuts of meat. With a simple brine, you are already halfway there. 

Don’t Brine Processed Meat

Most processed meats are already brined or tenderized in some way already. Some processed meats are made with a type of meat suitable for brining in its raw form, but because the meat has already undergone processing, it is not suited for home brining.

Oilier Types Of Fish Should Not Be Brined

Brining is a popular preparation method for some types of seafood. If you live by the seaside and are planning on barbequing some fresh fish, please consider the oil content of the variety of fish you have at hand.

Oilier fish like sardines and mackerel are well suited for barbequing, but brining them will turn them to mush. Only brine firm white fish like Cod or Seabass.

Pork Is Great For Brining

Because of the anatomy of pork, we can easily trim unwanted fat off any cut of pork as the fat is not embedded in the muscle but sits between the muscle and the skin. 

Pork has a high protein content and is low in fat. 

Many pocket-friendly cuts don’t compromise on taste. For example, pork is lean and firm and is perfect for home brining. 

Pork tenderloin is the most popular cut to brine for the barbeque.

Brine Turkey For A Juicy Barbeque

Turkey isn’t only for thanksgiving. You can pick up a frozen bird very reasonably outside of the festive season. Your guests are sure to be impressed by this American classic.

Chicken Is Great for Brining

Poultry can be brined whole or portioned, with or without skin. Chicken is a very popular meat for brining as it is easy to come by, and about everybody enjoys tender chicken pieces. The possibilities are endless, from hot wings, chicken tenders, beer can chicken, and spatchcock.

Brine Shrimp Before Barbequing

Shrimp is super easy and quick on the grill. Only a short brining time is needed. Rinse and devein shrimp before placing in brine. Reduce the salt content of your usual brine recipe for shrimp, as shrimps are naturally salty. Grill until your shrimps turn a soft pink color.

Does Brining Make Meat Tough?

By brining meat, you lock in moisture and flavor. The addition of acidity in brine will help break down protein structures in your meat. As a result, the brine will turn tough cuts of meat into fall-off-the-bone juicy and delicious dishes. Brine can also prolong the life of fresh produce and has been used as a preservation method for centuries.

In short, the brine will not make your meat tough, but rather the opposite is true of brine. The brine will soften your meat and help ensure it stays juicy after grilling.

Dry Brine Compared To Wet Brine

Dry brine works in the same way as wet brine, except it doesn’t require any liquid. Rubbing salt onto your meat will not add any moisture to your meat that could dilute the flavor. Instead, by rubbing salt, you ensure that the salt fuses with the meat’s natural juices, creating a concentrated flavor.

This method is prevalent for turkeys as you don’t have to find a large enough container to hold both the turkey and the brining liquid. 

Is Marinating The Same As Brining

Marinades and brine differ because brine is a high salt content acidic pickle, whereas a marinade is typically a combination of oil, acid, and flavorings. The rules we learned about bringing don’t apply to marinades. Marinades pair well with fatty cuts of meat too, make sure the marinade is not too acidic.

Final Word

Now that we know why certain types of meat don’t do well in brine, firing up that grill and preparing a hearty feast for your loved ones seems so much more within reach. 

Happy barbequing!

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