Brining is the key to enhanced juiciness for barbecued pork and poultry.
Brining works based on two chemistry principles: through diffusion and osmosis. Pork and poultry cuts, which tend to be cooked to elevated internal temperatures, benefit most from brining. Beef and lamb cuts, since most are cooked to lower internal temperatures or have more fat in them if they are cooked to higher internal temperatures, do not benefit from brining.
Brining helps to denature meat proteins, which then allows more water to be attached and held during cooking. More held water in the meat results in juicier pork and poultry barbecue.
Basic brine from Cook’s Illustrated:
- 1 quart water
- ½ cup of Kosher salt
- ½ cup of sugar
Amount of brine: 1 quart per pound of food not to exceed 2 gallons brine
Time: 1 hour per pound, but not less than 30 minutes or more than 8 hours.