5 Boozy Brines for Weekend Grilling

Sausage mixed grill © Con Poulos
By Chelsea Morse Posted June 11, 2015

When it comes to grilling, chef Adam Sappington of The Country Cat in Portland, Oregon, is a big-time fan of brining—especially using boozy brines. “Home chefs can sip on a beer or open a bottle of wine one night and have the perfect brining ingredient for the following day,” he says. Here, he shares five recipes to amp up flavor on the grill.

When it comes to grilling, chef Adam Sappington of The Country Cat in Portland, Oregon, is a big-time fan of brining—especially using boozy brines. “Home chefs can sip on a beer or open a bottle of wine one night and have the perfect brining ingredient for the following day,” he says. “Brines not only season the meat, they also add a foolproof method for keeping proteins moist through the cooking process. They are a great way to add or incorporate more flavor and spice to a dish without having to create a sauce or another component.” Below, Sappington shares five versatile recipes to amp up flavor on the grill.

Pro tip: Sappington recommends immersing the meat in these brines for at least 2 and up to 12 hours. Pieces of fish 5 pounds or larger can sit in the brine for 2 days; similarly sized pieces of meat can brine for up to one week.

Cider Brine
Pairs well with: salmon, pork or chicken.

2 cups hard cider (flat cider works best)
2 cups apple cider
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
3 sprigs fresh thyme

Preparation:
In a large stockpot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Cool completely before using.


Beer Brine
Pairs well with: chicken, pork or brisket.

4 cups beer, such as an IPA, flat
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup kosher salt
3 sprigs fresh sage
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Preparation:
In a large bowl or jug, add all of the ingredients and whisk together vigorously to dissolve the salt and sugar. Let sit for 1 hour.


White Wine & Verjus Brine
Pairs well with: halibut, salmon or trout.

2 cups verjus
2 cups white wine, such as Pinot Gris
¾ cup honey
¾ cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole coriander seed
2 tablespoons whole fennel seed
8 stems Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon orange zest

Preparation:
In a large stockpot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Cool completely before using.


Manhattan Cocktail Brine
Pairs well with: pork or chicken thighs.

1 cup unsweetened cherry juice
1 cup bourbon, such as Buffalo Trace
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
Juice of half an orange
¼ cup sweet vermouth
2 cups water
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
8 whole allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod
1 tablespoon whole yellow mustard seed

Preparation:
In a large stockpot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes. Cool completely before using.


Moscow Mule Brine
Pairs well with: trout, chicken or pork.

1 cup vodka
12 ounces ginger beer, flat
1 ½ cups water
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
¾ cup kosher salt
¼ cup grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon whole coriander seed
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 teaspoon chile flakes
1 teaspoon turmeric

Preparation:
In a large stockpot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Cool completely before using.

Related:
Grilled Chicken
F&W Staff Favorite Grilling Recipes
Grilling Tips

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