The Truth About Marinating Meat
Marinating meat is one of the quickest and most simple ways to enhance flavour and improve texture. Marinated meat is more tender, flavoursome and moist, it is never dry or chewy. Meat marinades are one of the professional chef’s best-kept secrets so here is the truth about marinating meat.
Why do we marinate meat?
- Meat is marinated to ensure it does not dry out during the cooking process, with marinades both retaining and adding moisture
- Marinades introduce different flavours to complement the choice of cut or the recipe
- Marinating meat softens leaner meats, which are the preferred choice of cuts, that do tend to be dryer
- Marinating makes the meat tender, acidic marinades like lemon juice, vinegar or wine will break down muscle fibres for a softer result. Some ingredients like pineapple, ginger and papaya have enzymes that specifically tenderise the meat. Yoghurt and buttermilk also have a similar effect
- Add a gigantic boost of flavour to ordinary dishes by just pre-soaking meat in a range of oils, herbs and spices – there are so many meat marinade recipes available, you can use citric acid, fat, seasonings, herbs, spices and sugar to enhance the flavour of your food
- Marinades can help reduce the carcinogenic compounds from high-heat grilling and broiling, these are called Heterocyclic Amines or HCAs and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons or PAHs. Marinades can provide a buffer for the meat whilst it is cooking
Many nervous cooks pose the key question of how long to marinate beef and how long to marinate chicken and the answer is, overnight is best but even just a few hours during the day will make a huge difference to the final dish.
- Make your own marinades- it is so quick and easy and you can be in complete control over what goes in them
- Always tenderise the cut of meat first using a meat tenderiser
- Cover tightly and chill in the fridge
- Only ever use the marinade once, discard after the meat has soaked
- Don’t overdo the ingredients
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