How Chefs Are Cooking with Pickle Brine

© Abby Hocking

By Elyse Inamine Posted February 13, 2017

It’s an amazing flavor booster.

Packed with antioxidants and electrolytes, pickle juice has been touted for the past few years as a health elixir.

Now chefs are cooking with the sour stuff, using it to to add depth and complexity to all kinds of dishes. Here’s how:

Soup: Kimchi-spiked cioppino at Maybeck’s

Chef Erik Lowe doesn’t waste any of his homemade kimchi at his San Francisco restaurant. He chops it up and adds the brine to the cioppino broth for a more flavorful seafood stew. “We use the kimchi brine because it’s slightly spicy and acidic, which helps balance the dish,” he says. maybecks.com

Marinade: Cured duck at Juniper

Beet-cured pearl onions dot charcuterie plates at Nicholas Yanes’ popular spot in Austin, while the leftover pink curing liquid goes into the smoker. Yane soaks duck breast in the brine for 24 hours, then smokes it while spritzing the duck with more brine to keep the cooking environment moist and temperature even. juniperaustin.com

Sauce: Venison with blueberries at Sepia

Pickled blueberries modernize an old-school French sauce at Andrew Zimmerman’s Chicago fine-dining institution. Peppery poivrade sauce is finished with pickled blueberry brine to add tanginess to the bacon-wrapped game meat. sepiachicago.com

Poaching Liquid: King salmon at 5&10

Hugh Acheson has a thing for full-sour pickles. So at his restaurant in Athens, Georgia, he repurposes the dill pickle brine as poaching liquid. As the fatty salmon cooks, it gets an infusion of funky flavor. fiveandten.com

Brine: Confit pig’s head at Maison Pickle

At the new sister restaurant to Jacob’s Pickles, this New York City chef puts pickle brine to work as it was intended. Chef Harold Villarosa submerges pig face into hot sour liquid before basting it with brown butter in the oven. maisonpickle.com

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