Dry brining is a technique that has revolutionized the way we prepare and cook steaks. With its ability to enhance flavor, juiciness, and tenderness, dry brining has become a favorite among home cooks and grill enthusiasts. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what dry brining is, why it's beneficial, which steaks to dry brine, how long to dry brine, the best salt to use, and step-by-step instructions to achieve the perfect dry-brined steak. Get ready to elevate your steak game to new heights!
1 - What is Dry Brine?
Dry brining is the process of salting a steak and letting it rest in the refrigerator before cooking, allowing the salt to penetrate the meat, enhancing its flavor and texture. Unlike wet brining, which involves submerging the meat in a saltwater solution, dry brining uses salt alone to draw out moisture from the surface of the steak, resulting in a more concentrated flavor and improved juiciness.
The process has three positive effects:
- First, the dry brining process helps to keep your steak juicy. The breakdown of protein molecules by the salt allows them to become more receptive to moisture. This means that you'll have a nice and crispy browned exterior without losing flavor or substance in the middle!
- Second, dry brining enhances your meat’s natural flavor. Salt has been shown to be the most influential ingredient when creating a delicious taste. By penetrating deep into the meat and interacting with moisture attached to the protein molecules, salt will naturally enhance your steak's natural flavor;
- Last, dry brining can tenderize your meat. It is the ultimate form of tenderization for your meat. When salt is added to meat, it begins to draw out the moisture. This process of osmosis causes the cells of the meat to swell and break down, which makes the meat much more tender.
Dry brining can seem like a lot of work, but once you get the hang of it, it will become your new go-to method for seasoning steaks (and meat in general). So if you want amazing steaks that are sure to impress your guests, dry brining is the way to go. Trust me, they'll be asking for your secret!
2 - Dry Brine vs. Wet Brine
- What is Wet Brining?
Wet brining is a process that uses a saltwater solution to season meat. The saltwater helps to tenderize the meat and also adds flavor. Wet brining is often used for poultry, but it can also be used for other types of meat, such as pork chops or steak.
- Differences Between Dry Brining and Wet Brining
There are two main differences between dry brining and wet brining:
1 - Dry brining uses only salt, while wet brining uses a saltwater solution.
2 - Dry brining is typically done overnight, while wet brining only takes a few hours.
- Why Dry Brine Steak?
Dry brining steak simplifies the process and yields fantastic results, offering numerous benefits for the perfect steak. By seasoning the steak with salt and allowing it to rest, dry brining enhances flavor, tenderness, and juiciness. It seasons the meat from within, breaks down muscle proteins, and ensures a well-seasoned and flavorful steak. Additionally, dry brining is convenient, efficient, and allows for a better sear, making it the best way to enhance the flavor and tenderness of steaks, and a good idea for achieving a juicy and perfectly seasoned steak.
While wet brining has its merits for certain types of meat, it is not ideal for steaks. Wet brining can result in overly moist and diluted flavors in steak, as the excess moisture hinders the effective occurrence of the Maillard reaction. On the other hand, dry brining allows the meat's natural juices to concentrate, resulting in a more flavorful and evenly cooked steak with a better crust. Therefore, when it comes to steaks, dry brining is the preferred method that ensures the best flavor and overall dining experience.
3 - What Steaks to Dry Brine?
- Top 5 Best Steaks to Brine
Dry brining is suitable for a wide variety of steaks, from smaller cuts to larger roasts. Here are some cuts that are particularly well-suited for dry brining:
- Flank Steak: A lean and flavorful cut that benefits from the tenderizing effects of dry brining.
- Picanha: This popular Brazilian cut, also known as top sirloin cap, becomes incredibly tender and packed with flavor when dry brined.
- Tri-Tip: Dry brining enhances the natural juiciness and tenderness of this triangular cut, making it perfect for grilling or roasting.
- Filet Mignon: While already tender, dry brining elevates the flavor of this premium cut, ensuring a truly exceptional dining experience.
- Strip Steak: Dry brining brings out the natural richness and tenderness of this popular cut, creating a steak that is bursting with flavor.
- Dry Brining Wagyu Steak
When it comes to brining steaks, using high-quality Wagyu beef can take your results to a whole new level. Wagyu beef, known for its exceptional marbling and rich flavor, is the perfect canvas for the brining process. Whether you're working with smaller cuts or larger ones, Wagyu beef's superior quality and intramuscular fat make it an excellent choice for creating a great steak. The key to successful brining is ensuring that the meat absorbs the flavors while retaining its natural juices. Wagyu beef's higher fat content allows it to absorb the brine solution more effectively, resulting in a steak that is incredibly tender, juicy, and flavorful. So, whether you're aiming for a perfectly cooked Wagyu ribeye or a mouthwatering Wagyu strip steak, incorporating brining into the cooking process is a great way to enhance the already amazing qualities of this exceptional beef.
Now, if you're looking for the best distributor of American Wagyu beef, look no further than Snake River Farms. They are renowned for their commitment to providing top-quality Wagyu beef that consistently exceeds expectations. With a dedication to superior breeding practices, careful selection, and expert craftsmanship, Snake River Farms ensures that every cut of their American Wagyu beef is a cut above the rest. Snake River Farms works directly with local farmers who raise their cattle with utmost care and attention to detail. This partnership allows them to maintain the highest standards throughout the entire process, from farm to table. When you choose Snake River Farms, you can be confident that you're getting the best of the best.
So, whether you're brining steaks for a special occasion or simply want to elevate your everyday cooking, combining the exceptional qualities of Wagyu beef with the brining technique is a winning combination. And when it comes to sourcing the finest American Wagyu beef, Snake River Farms stands out as a trusted name that guarantees a truly remarkable dining experience.
4 - Kosher Salt: the Key Ingredient
Choosing the right salt is crucial for achieving the best results when dry brining. Coarse kosher salt or sea salt are recommended due to their large grains, which provide an excellent texture for adhering to the surface of the meat. Avoid using table salt, as its fine grains can lead to over-salting. Experiment with different types of salt to discover your preferred flavor profiles, such as Himalayan pink salt or smoked sea salt, to add unique nuances to your dry-brined steak.
Here is a list of the 3 brands of kosher salt I recommend to use for brining:
If you're looking for a good kosher salt to dry brine your steak, look no further than Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. This salt is perfect for dry brining because it dissolves quickly and evenly, ensuring that your steak will be juicy and delicious.
Another great option for dry brining your steak is Morton Kosher Salt. This salt is also quick to dissolve, making it ideal for dry brining. In addition, Morton Kosher Salt is less likely to leave behind a salty taste, so your steak will be perfectly seasoned.
Redmond Real Salt Kosher Salt is another excellent choice for dry brining your steak. This salt is unrefined and contains more minerals than other types of salt, which means it will add a unique flavor to your steak. In addition, Redmond Real Salt Kosher Salt is quickly absorbed by meat, so your steak will be juicy and delicious.
I personally prefer Diamond Crystal Kosher salt to brine my steaks because of its fairly mild taste. However, feel free to experiment with different types of kosher salt until you find the one that you like best.
5 - How to Dry Brine Steak
Step 1: Thaw and Pat Dry Steaks. Before dry brining, ensure that your steaks are fully thawed if previously frozen. Pat them dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture, allowing the salt to adhere properly.
Step 2: Season Liberally with Coarse Salt and Pepper. Generously season both sides of the steak with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. The salt will draw out moisture and infuse the meat with flavor, while the pepper adds a delightful kick.
Step 3: Refrigerate 1 Hour up to 2 Days. Place the seasoned steaks on a wire rack set on top of a baking sheet. This allows air circulation around the steaks and prevents them from sitting in their own juices. Place the baking sheet with the steaks in the refrigerator and let them dry brine for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days for more pronounced flavor development.
Step 4: Climatize and Cook. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This helps to ensure even cooking and a juicier final product. Time to cook your steaks!
Important! Using a wire rack when dry brining steaks is essential. It elevates the steaks, allowing air to circulate around them. This helps with moisture evaporation and prevents the steaks from sitting in any accumulated juices. It also ensures that the salt can do its magic on the surface of the meat. This results in a flavorful and perfectly dry-brined piece of meat.
Final Takeaway, Should I brine my Steaks?
When it comes to brining your steaks, there are important factors to consider for the perfect outcome. Brining, particularly dry brining, offers a range of benefits. By generously seasoning the raw meat and allowing enough time for the flavors to develop, you can achieve a tender, flavorful, and juicy steak. It's crucial to use the right amount of salt, typically around a teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat. Whether you're working with smaller or larger cuts, the process remains the same. Dry brining can make a huge difference in the tenderness and taste of your steaks. So, if you're looking to elevate your steak game and enjoy the main benefits of brining, give it a try. With the right techniques, you can create a delicious steak that will impress your guests and leave you craving more.
For The Steaks
- 2 10 oz. Snake River Farms Filet Mignon (Black Grade) OR any other steaks of your choice. Such as ribeye, strip loin, etc.
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper Per taste.
- olive oil As needed.
For The Rub (Optional)
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Thaw and Pat Dry the Steaks
- Take the steaks out of the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. This ensures even cooking.
- Pat the steaks dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
Dry Brine the Steaks
- Season both sides of the steaks generously with kosher salt, ensuring even coverage. The salt will draw out moisture and penetrate the muscle fibers, enhancing the flavor and tenderness of the meat.
- Place the steaks on a wire rack set over a cutting board or a baking sheet to catch any excess moisture.
- Refrigerate the steaks uncovered for at least 1 hour, up to 24 hours. The longer you dry brine, the more flavorful the steaks will be.
Prepare the Rub (Optional)
- In a small bowl, mix together paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, and ground black pepper to create a flavorful rub.
Preheat the Cooking Surface
- Skillet: Place a cast-iron skillet over high heat and let it preheat for 5-7 minutes.
- Oven: Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C) and place a baking sheet or a cast-iron skillet inside to heat up.
- Grill: Preheat the grill to high heat (around 450-500°F or 232-260°C).
Season the Steaks (Optional)
- If using the optional rub, sprinkle it over both sides of the dry-brined steaks and press gently to adhere.
Cook the Steaks
- SKILLET: Drizzle a little bit of olive oil into the preheated skillet and swirl it around to coat the surface. Place the steaks in the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare, adjusting the time based on your desired doneness.
- OVEN: Carefully remove the preheated baking sheet or skillet from the oven. Place the steaks on the hot surface and return it to the oven. Cook for 6-8 minutes for medium-rare, or adjust the time based on your preference.
- GRILL: Brush the grill grate with oil to prevent sticking. Place the steaks directly on the hot grill and cook for 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare, adjusting the time as needed.
Rest the Steaks
- Once cooked to your desired doneness, remove the steaks from the heat source and transfer them to a cutting board. Let them rest for 5-10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful steak.
Slice and Serve
- Slice the steaks against the grain into thin strips for maximum tenderness.
- Serve the dry-brined steaks as they are, or pair them with your favorite sauces, such as a balsamic reduction or a garlic herb butter.
- Enjoy your perfectly cooked, flavorful, and juicy dry-brined steak!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can absolutely dry brine a Butterball turkey or any other type of turkey. Dry brining involves generously seasoning the raw turkey with a mixture of salt, herbs, spices, or other desired seasonings. Once seasoned, the turkey is refrigerated for a specific period of time. This allows the salt to penetrate the meat and work its magic. This process enhances the flavor, juiciness, and tenderness of the turkey, resulting in a delicious and succulent final product. Dry brining is a popular technique for preparing turkeys, including well-known brands like Butterball.
Dry brining is not limited to turkeys alone. It's also an excellent method for enhancing the flavor and tenderness of chicken. Whether you're working with a whole chicken, chicken breasts, or smaller cuts, dry brining can make a significant difference. Generously sprinkle the chicken with salt, making sure to cover both the skin and flesh. Then refrigerate the chicken for a period of time. This allows the salt to penetrate the meat and infuse it with flavor. The result is a chicken that is more flavorful, juicy, and tender.
Dry-brined turkeys do not necessarily cook faster than non-brined turkeys. The cooking time for a turkey depends on various factors such as size, cooking method, and desired level of doneness. While dry-brined turkeys may cook more evenly and yield juicier meat due to improved moisture retention, it's important to monitor the turkey's internal temperature and follow recommended cooking times and temperatures specific to the size and type of turkey being prepared. This ensures a safe and perfectly cooked turkey that will impress your guests.