Soaking your meat (and fish)Chef's Skillet Thursday, August 18th, 2011
Marinating food is the key to getting more intense flavors in the finished product at the table. While all kinds of foods can be marinated, the process is usually associated with meats and fish. The one thing about marinades is that you need to plan ahead. Meats usually require a minimum of two hours for the marinating process, while fish requires at least a half-hour.
There are some essential rules to ensure that you are soaking your meat in something that will ultimately be flavorful. First, there must be an acidic or enzymatic element like citrus, vinegar, pineapple or wine. Then there is an addition of an oil, herbs and/or spices to complete the flavor profile.
Making a marinade allows you to exercise your creativity. You can add garlic, onion, zest, shallots, paprika, cilantro or any herb or spice that you enjoy. You can also use oil that has a flavor profile of its own; try peanut, sesame, walnut, grape seed or even chili oil to add additional flavor.
The most important ingredient in the marinade is the acid because it helps to break down the meat. So no matter what you need – citrus, vinegar, wine or an enzymatic like pineapple, mango or kiwi, once the tissue in the meat has broken down, moisture is absorbed. Therefore you get a much juicier and tender end product from the grill, broiler or sauté pan.
It is important to marinate foods in glass, ceramic or stainless steel containers to ensure that the flavor of the food is not affected by the container. Resealable freezer bags are also a great option. Never marinate foods in aluminum as it will negatively affect the taste of the end product.
Recommended marinating times:
• Fish/shellfish: 30 minutes to one hour
• Boneless chicken breast: Up to three hours
• Pork loin: Up to four hours
• Lamb: Four to eight hours
• Beef: Up to 24 hours
• Full turkey/chicken: Eight to 12 hours
Note: Times should be shorter for smaller cuts of meat and longer for roasts and full birds.
Always cover and refrigerate foods while they are marinating. The food should be completely submersed in the marinade or it will be necessary to turn the food over halfway through to ensure the flavor is getting into all of the meat or fish. Remember, if you marinate fish or shellfish for longer than an hour you will end up with ceviche! The fish begins to “cook” from the acid in the marinade, so be sure never to marinate fish longer than an hour.
It is customary to discard marinades after the food is removed. However, some marinades can be brought to a boil for five minutes and then used to baste the meat, or fish while cooking.
Once you are ready to cook, it should be noted that foods that have been marinated may have shorter cooking times than foods that have not been marinated. So check on your meat or fish frequently to avoid overcooking.
lgbt weekly recipe
4-6 boneless chicken breasts
1 bottle of Girard’s Champagne Dressing (Yes, it’s cheating but it works great!)
Place chicken in a glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowl. Cover with champagne dressing. Marinate up to three hours, but a minimum of one hour. Grill. Enjoy!
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons distilled rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 cup olive oil
2 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
4 six ounce pork chops
Mix all the ingredients, except pork chops, in a glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowl. Place meat in a large resealable bag. Pour in marinade. Place in the refrigerator for 4 hours, turning the bag over halfway through. Grill to your desired doneness. Chow down!
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