Brine for 4 to 7 pounds of meat or poultry 4 quarts cold water 1/2 cup kosher salt 2/3 lightly packed cup brown sugar 1/4 to 1/3 cup medium-hot...

Brine for 4 to 7 pounds of meat or poultry

4 quarts cold water

1/2 cup kosher salt

2/3 lightly packed cup brown sugar

1/4 to 1/3 cup medium-hot to very hot chili powder

20 large garlic cloves, unpeeled and puréed

3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine water and seasonings in an 8-quart deep glass or stainless-steel container. (I use my soup pot.) Stir to dissolve salt and sugar.

2. Immerse the meat or poultry in the brine and refrigerate four to 12 hours. Remove from the brine to cook. After brining, foods can be flavored with dry rubs or marinades and refrigerated up to 24 more hours. Discard the brine after use. Do not reuse.

Variations:

White Wine-Herb Brine: Substitute 2 quarts dry white wine for half the water. Add 1/3 cup dry basil and 1/4 cup dry thyme.

Excellent with lamb, poultry and seafood, but with seafood, brine only for 20 to 30 minutes. Otherwise, you will have pickled fish.

Orange-Ancho Chili Brine: Use 2 quarts orange juice for half the water, and use 1/2 cup ground ancho chili. Include all the other ingredients, but add, too, the grated zest of 3 large oranges.

Talk about a brine for all foods, this is it. Pork, beef, lamb, poultry and game all shine with this.

Note: Caution: Discard brine once its job is done; do not reuse it.

From Lynne Rossetto Kasper