Pork Loin Brined in Tea
Pork Loin Brined in Tea
I was given the task to cook for fifteen people this 4th of July weekend. They wanted a gourmet meal in the great outdoors. With only a grill as my friend, I wanted to do something different than the usually burgers and brats. Walking through the meat section of the grocery, I saw a beautiful pork loin that would feed at least 20 people and was on sale. The question was, how was I going to cook it camping? Roasting it was definitely out of the question, since all I had was a grill. Just grilling it was out of the question because I would burn the outside before I cooked the inside. After pondering for a few minutes, I decided I need to brine it tonight so it would cook faster and be tender.
A brine, in cooking, is a process similar to marination in which meat is immersed in a liquid before cooking. Whereas a marination is usually a seasoned, often acidic solution, a brine is a salt water solution.
Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked, via the process of denaturation. The brine surrounding the cells has a higher concentration of salt than the fluid within the cells, but the cell fluid has a higher concentration of other solutes. This leads salt ions to diffuse into the cell, whilst the solutes in the cells cannot diffuse through the cell membranes into the brine. The increased salinity of the cell fluid causes the cell to absorb water from the brine via osmosis. The salt introduced into the cell also denatures its proteins. The proteins coagulate, forming a matrix that traps water molecules and holds them during cooking. This prevents the meat from dehydrating.
- 1 gallon water
- 1 cup table salt
- 1/2 cup agave
- 1/4 cup Lapsang Souchong
- 3 TBS black peppercorns
- 1 TBS smoked paprika
- 1 TBS cayenne pepper
- 8-10 lb pork loin, cut into 4 segments
- 1 bunch tarragon, stemmed & chopped (reserve stems for brine)
- 1 bunch sage, stemmed & chopped (reserve stems for brine)
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- In large pitcher, combine all the above ingredients except the pork loin. Stir well to dissolve the salt. Add the stems from the tarragon and sage to the solution.
- Place the tarragon and sage leaves in a small bowl and cover with canola oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Butterfly the pork loin. Place the the herb mixture lengthwise across the bottom of the butterflied loin. Roll it like a taquito and every few inches tie it up with a piece of twine. Place the pork in a garbage bag, you will probably want to double bag it so it doesn’t leak. Pour the brine over the pork, make sure it is completely covered. Tie the garbage bag, place the pork in a cooler and let brine for at least 12-24 hours. Place ice packs in cooler to ‘refrigerate’ pork.
- Over medium-high heat, grill pork on all sides. Cook until a thermometer reads 135-140 degrees. Take off grill and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Remove twine and cut into slices about 1 in thick.