Muji Luggage + Brining 101

In this post here, I mentioned I picked up a Tumi Luggage Tegra-Lite International Carry-On Bag, which is perfect for the shorter domestic flights I take but I also want to share what I use for longer international flights, which is my trusty Muji Valise Hard Carry Travel Suitcase. When the handle of the only large suitcase I'd ever owned broke down on me while in Tokyo last year, my good friend suggested I buy either a Samsonite or Muji luggage since she said they're both highly recommended by her friends. Since I  was in Japan anyway, I decided to go for a Muji one. I still remember that rainy day in Tokyo, rushing to the store since my flight was that day, which I ultimately missed by the way. I walked into the store thinking I'd buy the largest one they had but realized the 85L size is huge, as in big enough to swallow me up, and so decided on the 60L, which is the same size as my old one and looks much better with me proportionately. I settled on beige for the color and have to say I am very happy with it so far, having used it for multiple overseas trips since I got it.

Tokyo last year with my old broken suitcase and my new Muji Valise Hard Carry Travel Suitcase :)
Now that the holiday season is here, I want to share a few tips on brining, which I didn't have a chance to do before Thanksgiving. I made a turkey for the first time last year and tried a different recipe this year and I definitely prefer the flavor and texture of this year's over last year's and the main difference between the two is that I brined mine this year, while I marinated it last year. There are those who believe the extra step of brining produce the juiciest birds and I have to say I'm a believer now. So, down to the basics -  when brining, or submerging any lean type of poultry or pork in a saltwater bath, it allows it to abosorb extra moisture while raw so that it won't dry out during cooking. Doing so also flavors the meat from the inside since the water is also seasoned. Here's a handy chart as a guide for brine quantities and times:

2-1/2" Thick Pork Chops1 quart2-4 hours
Chicken or Turkey Parts and Pork Roasts2 quarts6-8 hours
Whole Chicken2quarts6-8 hours
Whole 12-14 lb Turkey1 gallon12 hours
Whole 16-20 lb Turkey2 gallons12-24 hours

And here's a basic brine recipe:

Bring 1 cup of water, 3 tablespoons kosher salt (2 is using table salt), 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns to a boil in a small saucepan. Add 3 cups cold water to cool. (Makes 1 quart. Multiply the recipe 2, 4, or 8 times as needed.)
* When roasting brined meat, make sure you pat it fully dry before coating it in oil and cooking.
* I brined my turkey in a double layer of roasting bags, which you can find at your local supermarket.
* If you don't have enough space in your fridge for the brinig bath, you can always fill a cooler with ice and place it in there and replenish the ice as needed.

One more important thing to note is to give your meat a rest before cutting into it, which could cause a flood of flavorful juices to leak out when done too soon. The reason for this is because during high-heat cooking, naturla moisture inside the meat is forced out of the muscle fibers. If you're patient, the juices will redistribute through the meat as it slightly cools. The first minutes of resting is the most important so even waiting 5-10 minutes is much better than none for large cuts and roasts. Below is a handy guide for approximate resting times:

Burgers5 minutes
Chops and Steaks5-10 minutes
Chicken Pieces10 minutes
Whole Chicken15-30 minutes
Whole Turkey and Other Large Roasts30-45 minutes

I still haven't been able to move back home yet but really hope to be able to before Christmas so I can start cooking again. Happy cooking for the holidays! :)

Leaving you with the quote of the day, "Pull a string and it'll follow wherever you wish. Push it and it'll go nowhere at all." -Dwight D. Eisenhower


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