Many barbecue and grills experts would argue greatly that the technique of grilling is one aspect that heavily influences the tastes of your meat, but is not the only thing you must consider when learning how to perfect your grilled meats. This is very much true! While a myriad of factors goes into creating the perfect meat for everyone to indulge in, it is important to remember that the sauces and seasonings that go into your meat are a great part of the tastes and complexity of flavors that make up your protein! For many novice grillers and beginners, the art of marinating appears to be simple. You slab some spices on or soak some sauce in it and voila! Deliciously flavored meat is suddenly at your service. Sadly, this is not the case. Marinating meat is more than just a slab of sauce here and sprinkle of seasoning there. It is an art and a skill of its own that must be mastered and known in order to produce great, quality, grilled meat that everyone desires! If you have hit the grill or barbecue a couple of times and have realized that your protein seems to be seriously lacking in flavor even though you appear to be packing in all the punches (sauces, seasonings, and all) then this is a major red flag. This signals to you that while the ingredients that make up your marinade are absolutely divine, the art of how you let that meat soak up or take in the marinade can be pretty lacking. It is one thing to create a beautifully tasting marinade, yet it is a completely other thing to be knowledgeable of how to ensure that the protein you have chosen is absorbing all that your marinade has to offer. If you are one of those who are lost on how to marinate your meat properly, then do not worry. This article aims to give you the ultimate tips and tricks to marinating like a pro so that you can create the ultimate barbecue hit!
What is Marinating?
Before we delve into the science and art of crafting delicious meat, it is first important that we understand exactly what marinating is, its purpose, and the significance behind it. Normally when one understands this, then they tend to be more cautious and exert more effort into their marinade. Trust me when I say that by being cautious and taking more consideration into how you marinate your meat, the only way is up for you and your marinating skills. Marination refers to the process of soaking foods into seasoned and sometimes acidic liquid before cooking. It alludes to the idea of adding flavor to food through the usage of liquid that is typically made up of herbs, spices, and either enzymatic or acidic ingredients. Sometimes acidic ingredients that can be of use for your marinade can include ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, and even wine. Enzymatic ingredients on the other hand include a handful of common ingredients such as pineapple, papaya, or ginger. These types of foods tend to work in combination with a variety of herbs and spices to create a delicious blend for your meat to absorb. There are numerous benefits that marinating meat can provide for you and possibly listing some of these benefits can help you understand the significance of a good marinade as well as possessing good marinating skills!
Some Benefits that Marinated Meat Can Provide for You!
It Decreases the Amount of Carcinogen
Choosing to marinate your meat, greatly reduces the harmful carcinogens that can often come about as a result of grilling something with high temperatures. There is not much science that has been done on the specifics of why marinating your meat helps reduce carcinogens, but it is thought to be believed that the marinade can act as a barrier against the high heat of the grill. This can help reduce the chemical precursors of carcinogens such as HCAs (carcinogenic heterocyclic amines) and can actually reduce the number of HCAs by almost 99 percent! That is a lot!
Easily Digestible Protein
Marinating your meat can also be beneficial in the sense that it can help to tenderize the meat. This of course makes the meat tastier (because no one wants dry and rubbery meat), but can also make the protein a lot easier to digest in your stomach. Acidic ingredients such as vinegar or citrus juice are infamous for making really tender meats, allowing for the moisture to stay locked within the meat, safeguarding against the horrible taste that dry meat can give (rubbery and inedible sadness).
Safeguards Against a Variety of Bacteria
Marinades can actually help safeguard against harmful bacteria’s that can produce very horrible illnesses. One harmful bacterium that is known to be slowed down in growth as a result of marinated meat is the bacteria listeria. Listeria can produce horrendous consequences to you such as attacking your nervous system, giving you headaches, stiff neck, confusion, convulsion, and loss of balance. It is especially fatal to pregnant women and can cause harm to babies resulting in death or serious infection. While marinating does not kill bacteria, it does heavily slow down the growth of the bacteria should it ever come about and this can be of great advantage to many people!
Marinating Tips for a Delectable Barbecue Fest!
Now without further ado, I present to you the basic tips that you should learn and commit to memory so that the next time you whip out a good grilled feast, you can be ensured that your meat will be an instantaneous hit!
A Lot of Seasoning Means a Lot of Flavor and is the Way to Go!
When utilizing the most perfect marinade for whatever protein you decide to use, remember that the key to a good marinade is to pick one that produces a myriad of flavors and seasonings. Many people tend to get nervous with overdoing their marinades, but trust me it can be incredibly beneficial to you, to try and incorporate a lot of flavor in there! Cooksillustrated.com actually ran through a series of tests to research the best process for marinating meat and it turns out that meat that is soaked in a high concentration of salt can actually inhibit the meat’s ability to absorb the flavors, if you do not bulk up in quantity on your other ingredients! Since salt is such an important part of your marinade, you really need to amp your spices and flavors in copious quantities, as doing so will yield the best results. This means tossing in maybe 3-4 cloves of garlic and throwing in at least a tablespoon of chopped herbs with absolutely no regrets. The more, the better. If you check out some marinade recipes online and your gut is telling you that the ingredients are not up to par, quantity wise, then it probably isn’t the marinade that you want! Do your research. In this case, more is typically better!
Don’t Let it Sit There on the Counter
It is no lie that marinating meat can take a very long time. You often have to wait a while and be very patient with marinating your meat, before you can grill it! Be sure that you do not make the rookie mistake of letting your meat marinate on the counter! Don’t do it unless you want to deal with everyone getting very sick! Put your meat in the refrigerator, immediately after applying the marinade. Failure to do so, invites microorganisms to feast and spread throughout the raw meat. Gross! If you are someone that typically forgets, be sure to set a reminder or have someone else remind you! Meat in refrigerator is a necessity! This keeps the meat out of the bacteria danger zone that typically falls within the range of 40-140 degrees. These types of temperatures will cause the bacteria to spread rapidly at high rates, leaving you and your guests way more prone to sickness.
Recycling Isn’t Always Your Friend in This Case
I know that for many people, wasting is typically very painful. Food costs quite a bit and it doesn’t sit well within us when we tend to throw away leftovers or food that has gone bad. It becomes a part of our nature to try to save and reuse everything that we use so that we don’t contribute to high amounts of waste and we also get the most bang out of our buck. Trust me; however, when I say that you do not want to reuse your marinade. I know that it is going to be so tempting to use up that leftover marinade for something else. It is too delicious to just go to waste like that, but don’t do it! Used marinade has been filled up with raw meat juice and has become unsafe at that point. If you really want to use extra marinade for after you are done cooking your meat, then be sure to make extra! But do not use up the marinade that had already spent time soaking on your meat. That marinade has to be discarded immediately before cooking so that you don’t contaminate the food and makes people sick!
Get the Low Down on the Basics of Any and Every Marinade
Typically, any marinade that you come across will have the same basic ingredients, give or take a couple of ingredients that have been added or taken out for the purpose of producing different flavors. Some basic ingredients that you should consider in your marinade include salt (but not too much of it), oil, soy sauce, and sugar or honey. Salt is so essential to your marinade. It produces a myriad of great benefits to your meat such as enhancing the taste and allowing the moisture of the marinade to be absorbed in dry parts of your meat through a process called osmosis. In this process, the salt first pulls out the meat juice and reabsorbs the juices with the marinade in tow. It can also help break down the protein structure of meat so that little gaps can be created and filled by the marinade (making for juicier meat!). Oil is the second most important basic ingredient in your marinade for ingredients do not typically reveal their aromatic flavors unless combined with oil. Soy sauce is the third most important ingredient because it helps to reinforce the meat’s flavor through glutamic acid. Lastly, be sure no to skip out on the sweet part of your marinade with sugar or honey. The sweet flavors that these ingredients offer help to intensify the meat flavor overall and gives it a beautiful crust, once it has been grilled. Couple these four basics with a myriad of other herbs, spices, etc. and you will surely have a killer marinade!
Patience is Key for the Best Meat
For beginners, typically when they hear that meat needs to be soaked in marinade for quite a while, their mind tends to gravitate towards the idea of marinating for about 1-2 hours. That is actually not enough time for your meat to really absorb the marinade. The longer you allow the protein to stay absorbed, the better the meat tastes for it has a really long time to soak in more and more of the flavor being offered. It is quite common for many beginners to typically create these amazing marinades that are perfect and flavorful and then end up disappointed because their meat doesn’t taste as flavorful as their marinade. They often wonder how that could be, if the quantities and ratios were correct and everything! In this case, you can boil the mishap down to not allowing the meat to marinate for very long. Do some research! The amount of time that is necessary for your meat to be flavorful will depend on the type of meat you are grilling. If you want to yield delicious meat results in a shorter amount of time then try out the vacuum method. In this method, one typically vacuum seal the meat in a plastic bag and some even swear that the taste is better than the original marinade way. Whichever way you decide to do it, it is of extreme importance that you are cautious and aware of how to do it, so you don’t make common mistakes.
Now that I have imparted some meat marinating wisdom upon you, hopefully these tips can be enough to at least make you feel more comfortable with the idea of grilling meat. The best advice of all the advice that I can give you is to research, research, and research. Typically, you can get more specialized tips on how to properly marinate if you know what meat you are working with. More specific tips and tricks can make you feel more knowledgeable about the right way to go about this, so that you can become the pro I know you can be when it comes to grilled foods! Go and conquer!