How to Marinate Anything

From: Herbert Eddy (khtspo...)

Everyone loves to have their favorite foods cooked to perfection on
the grill. And learning how to marinate is an important step in
achieving this perfection. marinating is a cooking method - or at the
very least an important prelude to many cooking methods - that needs
to be understood in itself. It is much more than simply soaking your
favorite meat in your favorite salad dressing before slapping it on
the grill. Or at least it should be! There are some tricks to getting
it right and lucky for you, they are simple and you will learn them
right here!
Marinate with a Mission.
You're probably wondering if you really need to learn how to marinate
for great grilling. My general mantra when it comes to cooking is that
there are no unbreakable rules. So I guess, in sticking with that, you
don't HAVE to do anything. But before you decide your reading for now
is over, let me give you some quick reasons why you might WANT to
marinate. marinating meats imparts flavor, adds moisture, and can (to
a degree) tenderize meat. The first secret to great marinating is
learning how to match the correct marinate with the correct cut of
meat and then apply the correct cooking method. This simple formula
will produce great results every time.
Proceed with Caution (but not too much!).
In learning how to marinate, one of the things to determine is what
meat you plan to use. A common mistake is to overestimate the meat
tenderizing results that can be achieved with marinating. Yes,
marinating will provide SOME tenderizing - but only some. You still
cannot take shoe leather, marinate it and cut it with a butter knife.
It's not going to happen - and expecting that will only produce those
disappointing results I mentioned before. Like anything else you cook,
it is always best to start with good ingredients and to consider the
end result you desire. In addition, muscle tissue will absorb marinate
better than fat tissue so using an overly fatty piece of meat will
result in very little marinating actually getting into your product.
There is a Method to the Madness (and to the marinate).
Making your own marinate is easy and ingredient options are virtually
limitless. In most marinates, the essential ingredient is an acid,
which acts as a slight tenderizer, but the type of acid you choose is
completely open to your creativity and the type of dish you are
making. Wine, lemon juice, tomato juice, balsamic vinegar, orange
juice pineapple juice and margarita mix are all fairly common acids
that work great in marinates. Adding oil is also an option, but keep
in mind that the oil itself will not be drawn into the muscle tissue.
Oil in this case is used solely for flavoring so if you use oil,
choose a flavored oil. Fresh herbs and spices can also add flavor to
marinates and you've got lots of choices here, too. When using herbs,
remember that whole herbs release their flavor slowly so they work
best for long marinates. If you are going with a quicker marinate,
grind up the herbs before use to impart their flavor more quickly.
Then you just make it up! Yes, you read that correctly. There is no
recipe here because there are hundreds of recipes for marinates and I
don't know what you like or what you're making. The key to cooking
success is to learn the basic cooking methods, the techniques of
achieving the end result you desire, and then let your taste,
imagination and your unique situation be the guide for making up your
very own marinate recipe, which might be different each and every time
you marinate.
The only Reaction should be a Good One.
Always place the product you are marinating (with the marinate) in an
air-tight container to keep the moisture in. Remember - one of the
reasons we are going through this process is to add moisture so you
don't want to lose it at the same time! How long you let the juices
soak in to the meat depends on how much time you have and the cut of
meat you are using. The thicker the meat, the longer you will have to
marinate to impart the flavor into the protein. Remember to use an
acid-resistant container such as stainless steel. Don't use copper or
pewter as this can react with the acid, making those who eat the food
sick. Finally, always store the container in the refrigerator for the
entire duration - until you cook the meat. Remember to always discard
the marinate after you have finished marinating and never re-use the
marinate during the cooking process because it has had raw meat
soaking in it for a length of time. In these ways, you are ensuring
food safety.
So - what will you make this weekend? Relax. You know how to marinate
and you've got a whole summer of delicious experimentation ahead of
you!

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