>> Salt is important because it is a flavor enhancer and it is good at penetrating
meat and pulling the other flavor components in the marinade by osmosis.
>> Acid can break down protein slightly. Typical acids are fruit juice (lemon juice, apple juice, white grape juice, pineapple juice and orange juice work well), vinegar (cider vinegar, distilled vinegar, sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, raspberry vinegar or any old vinegar) and even soft drinks.
>> Typical flavorings include herbs and spices such as oregano, thyme, cumin, paprika, garlic, onion powder and even vegetables such as onion or jalapeños. It's a good idea to add some 'umami'. That's the meaty flavor from glutamates found in meat stocks, soy sauce and mushrooms.
>> Oils are used in marinades because many flavorings are not water soluble, and oils are needed to release their aromatics. Most green herbs are oil soluble. Oils on the surface of the meat aid in browning and crisping. Don't use olive oil because it solidifies at refrigerator temp. Use a corn, canola or peanut oil. Other oils might work but give them thought because some, such as walnut are very flavorful.
>> No sugar. While you're concocting your signature marinade, skip the sugar. The big fat sugar molecules just thicken the liquid and clog up the pores in the meat. Keep your marinade thin.
>> No alcohol. A lot of folks like to use wine, beer and spirits in their marinades, but this may not be a good idea. "If your marinating anything with alcohol, cook the alcohol off first. Alcohol doesn't tenderize; cooking tenderizes. Alcohol in a marinade in effect cooks the exterior of the meat, preventing the meat from fully absorbing the flavors in the marinade. Raw alcohol itself doesn't do anything good to meat. So put your wine or spirit in a pan, add your aromatics, cook off the alcohol, let it cool and then pour it over your meat. This way you have the richness of the fruit of the wine or Cognac or whatever you're using, but you don't have the chemical reaction of "burning" the meat with alcohol or it's harsh raw flavor."
>> Use a nonreactive container. The acids in a marinate can react with aluminum, copper and cast iron... will give the food an off flavor. So do your soaking in plastic, stainless steel, porcelain or best of all, zipper bags. Pour the marinade and meat in the bag and squeeze out all the air possible. The meat will be in contact on most surfaces.
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>> Marinades are seasoned liquid mixtures that add flavor and in some cases tenderize. A tenderizing marinade must contain an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice, yogurt, wine or vinegar, or a natural tenderizing enzyme found in fresh papaya, ginger, pineapple and figs.
>> A rub is a blend of seasonings, such as fresh or dried herbs and spices, applied to the surface of uncooked beef steaks, roasts or ground beef patties for flavor. Paste-type rubs often contain some oil, crushed garlic or mustard.
>> Always marinate in the refrigerator, never at room temperature. Tender beef cuts need only is marinated 15 minutes to 2 hours for flavor.
>> Less tender beef cuts should be marinated at least 6 hours in a mixture containing a food acid or enzyme.
>> A tenderizing marinade reaches about 1/4 inch into the cut surface.
>> Marinating longer than 24 hours in a tenderizing marinade can result in a mushy surface texture.
>> If a marinade is to be used later for basting or served as a sauce, reserve a portion of it before adding the beef.
>> Marinade that has been in contact with uncooked meat must be brought to a full rolling boil before it can be used as a sauce.
>> Never save and reuse a marinade on raw meat.
>> Allow 1/4 to 1/2 cup marinade for each 1 to 2 pounds of beef.
>> Marinate in a food-safe plastic bag or nonreactive container. Turn or stir the meat occasionally to allow even exposure to the marinade.
>> Grilling is a form of dry heat cookery (along with broiling, oven roasting, pan-broiling and stir-frying).
>> Although more suitable for tender cuts of beef, less tender cuts can be cooked with dry heat if marinated first in a tenderizing marinade.
>> Less tender beef cuts include those from the chuck and round, such as beef top round and flank steak. A flavoring marinade is used with tender beef cuts for a short time 15 minutes to 2 hours.
>> Popular in many grilling recipes, marinades can add unique flavors from around the world.
>> A tenderizing marinade contains a food acid or a tenderizing enzyme. Acidic ingredients include lemon or lime juice, vinegar, Italian dressing, salsa, yogurt and wine. Tenderizing enzymes are present in fresh ginger, pineapple, papaya, kiwi and figs.
>> Marinate in a food-safe plastic bag or a non-reactive glass or stainless steel container. Turn steaks or stir beef strips occasionally to allow even exposure to the marinade.
>> ALWAYS marinate in the refrigerator, NEVER at room temperature.
>> Less tender steaks should be marinated at least 6 hours but no more than 24 hours. Marinating longer than 24 hours will result in a mushy texture.
>> If a marinade will also be used later for basting or served as a sauce, reserve a portion of it before adding the raw beef. Marinade that has been in contact with uncooked meat MUST be brought to a full rolling boil for at least 1 minute before it can be used as a sauce.
Most commercial seasoned bread crumbs are full of preservatives and sodium. Bake or toast slices of Italian bread until they are crisp but not dark brown. Add seasonings of your choice, such as oregano, basil, onion and garlic powder, and whatever you have available. Run them through a food processor and you have your own made seasoned crumbs that are rich in flavor and devoid of chemicals. You can further customize your bread crumbs for the type of ingredient that you are breading.
MORE... WET MARINADES AND DRY RUBS...
A marinade is a combination of liquids and/or spices while a dry rub is just that: a mixture of dry ingredients. For tougher cuts of meat such as London broil, flank steaks, skirt steaks, etc definitely go with the marinade. The marinade will help tenderize the meat somewhat. On tender foods you can use either. Steaks and chicken are best if marinated overnight. Fish on the other hand should not be marinated more than an hour. It's delicate meat will break down and turn to mush if marinated too long. For dry rubs, coat the food with olive oil, apply the rub and allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
The number, type and ratio of ingredients for marinades and rubs are endless and largely depend on your preference. (We're talking about making them from scratch of course. The store bought processed stuff is needlessly high in salt, calories and chemicals... certainly will not taste like homemade). Typical marinade ingredients include various oils, vinegar, wine, citrus juices, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and hot sauces, in combination with aromatics (onion or garlic), herbs and spices. Dry rubs can include any and all dried spices you can think of. I like a combo of salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and thyme.
ON THE OUTDOOR GRILL...
Do NOT slide your Meat across the grill grate! You'll scrape OFF all the Seasoning!
To flip or not to flip? Many people place their food on the grill and then immediately start moving it around and/or flip it frequently. They think this will prevent sticking but actually they are encouraging it. Just as in a sauté pan, high heat is what prevents sticking, (in addition to wiping the grill with oil beforehand). High heat sears the outside of the food and creates intense flavor. This is what grilling is all about. The seared exterior also prevents sticking. Frequent flipping lowers the temperature of the food and prevents a proper sear. To summarize, wipe the grill with oil, get it very hot, place the item on the grill, leave it alone and flip it once half way through.
Heat level depends on the type of food and your objectives. As stated, high heat is necessary for searing the exterior of most grilled items. However, a thick 'on the bone' chicken breast will take some time. If you leave it on high heat the exterior will look and taste like an ash tray by the time the center is cooked enough to prevent a salmonella outbreak! Start it on high heat to create the sear, then move to the rack above the grill or turn the gas down to low for the remainder of the cooking. You would also not use as high a heat for more delicate items such as shrimp, vegetables or fruits.
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