I always look to Martha Stewart when I need a recipe, and I have been receiving Martha Stewart Living for more years than I care to count. I get so excited when I see a new issue in my mailbox, and I burn past the home and garden articles straight for the recipes. The June 2009 issue had an article about grilling, and this gem of a brine was included. It is incredibly simple and results in meat that is perfectly salty sweet.
1 whole chicken cut into parts or 6 1" thick bone-in pork chops
6 c. water
1/2 c. coarse salt
1/2 c. honey
Bring water, salt, and honey to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until salt dissolves. Let cool completely. Place chicken or pork in a bowl and pour cooled brine over top. (Erin's note: I prefer to use a ziplock bag.) Refrigerate, covered, for 2 - 3 hours. (Erin's note: I have refrigerated for up to 48 hours, and it was spectacular. With chicken, that might be too long). Remove meat from brine, rinse under cold water, and pat dry. Season with pepper before grilling.
Grilling is always best done on an outdoor grill, but living in Portland means you can't always venture outside. My cast iron grill is worth its weight in gold. Well, it's pretty heavy, so I might take the gold on that one, but you get my drift. It is a necessary item for grill lovers in rainy climates. I mentioned this in my Tira de Asada post, but you want the grill to be hot enough to make grill marks on the meat, but cool enough that the meat won't scorch while it cooks. This means taking your time and letting the grill heat up before throwing on the meat. You only need a medium to medium-low setting on the stove.
I whipped up a very simple pasta caprese as a side dish. This is another one of those dishes for which I don't actually have a recipe. I'll do my best.
1/2 lb penne
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella di bufala, cut into 1" pieces
1 c. loosely packed fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350F. Place tomatoes and garlic in oven-proof skillet (such as cast iron) and toss with ~1 Tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook in oven until tomatoes are beginning to soften and some of their skins split 6 - 10 min. Remove from oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, boil penne to al dente, drain, and place in a large bowl. Stir in tomatoes, basil leaves, and mozzarella. Add 1 - 2 Tbsp olive oil, season with salt and pepper, mix and serve.