This month's "Best New Restaurants" feature spotlights local hotspots where some nuanced culinary tricks help spice up the menu. Since I started cooking more seriously, I've picked up a technique that's improved my roasted pork and poultry and grilled shrimp dishes considerably: brining. Brining is simply immersing meat in a solution of salt and sugar before cooking.
I dissolve salt and sugar in a 2:1 ratio in a pot of water, drop the meat into the solution so it's completely covered and let it sit (refrigerated, of course) for a few hours (shrimp no more than three to four hours).
When you're ready to cook, rinse the meat, pat dry and prepare as directed. For a roast chicken, I use one cup of salt to a half cup of sugar and let it sit overnight. Your taste may vary. Try using brown sugar in your brine or add fresh aromatic herbs like thyme or rosemary to infuse the meat with flavor. Check your cookbooks for other variations. Enjoy the results.